It's my personal soapbox, a place for me to express thoughts and feelings, musings and rants, reflections and recollections; to have fun with words -- about things spiritual, environmental, social, political, economic, and, from time to time, personal. And of course about peace. Soapboxes are in public places (as London's legendary Hyde Park) on purpose, and so I invite conversations with you, for it is through civil discourse that we can gain some perspective on the seeming chaos of these changing times and learn together how to shape a positive future for ourselves, our communities, and the generations to come.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Thoughts and Prayers Are Not Enough

And so here we go once again, almost a weekly ritual of so-called leaders (and all of us) offering thoughts and prayers for bereaved families. When are we going to take some action to avoid future such bereaved families? And by action, I'm not just talking the usual litany regarding controlling the prevalence of guns in our society. Nor am I talking about giving more attention to mental health issues. Yes, both of those are absolutely necessary and long overdue. But even that wouldn't be getting at the root causes of such mass shootings.

What we really need is some serious collective self-reflection, as a nation supposedly dedicated to "the pursuit of happiness", as to why there are so many unhappy people in this country. Mass shootings are "only" one manifestation of that unhappiness. Others are epidemics of opioids and other drug addictions, teen suicides, domestic violence. We are a nation of perpetual PTSD - of both military and domestic origin. 

What is it about our culture that creates such feelings of despair and estrangement? Much more than mental illness, it's emotional and even spiritual emptiness, feelings of not belonging, not having meaning or a  purpose in life. What does it say about us, about our culture, to have had a president who, as a palliative for our national trauma, grief, and disorientation following 9/11, can only advise us to go shopping?

The root cause lies there, somewhere deep within our cultural norms and values, and we will only get at it through some deep national soul-searching and self-reflection. Cultures are supposed to be the mediums for growing things, for nurturing life. Ours clearly is falling short.

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