Don’t deflect the blame, stand up to evil
By Stacy Washington
After the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., I had sudden and irrational thoughts about pulling my children from the very school district where I serve on the school board.
Even knowing all the procedures, safety measures and plans for such crises, the events in Newtown raise instinctive fears. I felt a deep sense of concern for my children’s safety and the safety of their friends and teachers. In the end, I realized they are as safe as humanly possible.
Watching the Newtown story unfold, I was in a state of disbelief. My heart pounded as I felt a parent’s panic. I don’t know how it feels to lose a child, but it’s my worst nightmare.
To hear that so many children were gunned down in their home away from home and how their teacher stood her ground in their defense — it’s still difficult to comprehend.
Yet that is the nature of evil. Evil comes when you least expect it. Evil takes.
Evil takes lives. It takes innocence. It steals our sense of safety and contentment.
Evil doesn’t care if the bullets hit children. It doesn’t care if bullets are the weapon of choice. Evil plans on the unpreparedness of the victims.
Gun-free zones are meaningless. They only ensure evil is more likely to do its bidding there because evil is a coward. Evil doesn’t want to face the consequences of its actions. It often kills, maims and destroys and then kills itself to avoid answering to why it destroyed hopes and dreams and shattered the delicate balance of a community’s daily routine.
Evil knows that, long after it’s dead and gone, partisans will debate the in-animate objects used to perform the heinous deeds. If it chooses guns, cries for gun control will ensue. If it uses bombs, the ingredients will be more tightly regulated and controlled.
Evil knows that it’s easier to demonize guns than address the truly serious issue of mental illness. Evil knows politicians have an aversion to address something so difficult in a meaningful and definitive manner. And if we leave this discussion to angry mobs screaming for gun control — which solves absolutely nothing — evil wins.
But we can address root causes and develop sensible solutions without — as happened through radical tweets — calling for killing National Rifle Association (NRA) members. Besides, why go after NRA members who own guns, are trained in their use and prefer to hunt than be hunted. The NRA also promotes respect for the proper use of firearms and provides training in their safe handling. Scapegoating won’t save lives.
Mental illness is the issue. The very nature of our mental health system, and it’s “treat-and-street” attitude, leaves families ill-equipped to deal with mental illness and coping with a de-ranged family member. Addressing this won’t be fun and it’s not great for media, so many politicians won’t even bat an eye at it. But, once there’s another tragedy such as Newtown, they’ll scream about America’s “gun culture.” Politicians are free to have a media-friendly tantrum, but adults must engage in serious discussion. The facts don’t support the assertion that owning a gun leads to more violence.
It’s also odd that President Obama and his supporters created an immensely unpopular health care takeover that seemingly lacks mental health reform that might stop another Newtown.
Preparedness is also important, yet often overlooked. Having someone in a school who is armed and trained in tactical weapons seems sensible. Any zone deemed gun-free is naturally a target for a coward seeking to harm a large group. That’s now an undeniable truth.
We must be cognizant we will never be completely rid of evil. And evil won’t go away if the government bans guns.
Let’s try to steer this tragedy into a productive problem-solving mode.
Let’s stand up to evil. That’s the only way to deal with it.
Stacy Washington is a member of the national advisory council of the Black leadership network Project 21 and co-host of the “He Said, She Said” program on BlogTalkRadio. Comments may be sent to Project21@nationalcenter.org.