By Debra K. Waranch, LCSW-C
Every time a new mass shooting takes place…it gets people thinking. Recently some news organizations tallied up that there were 74 incidents in this country since the devastation at Sandy Hook. A recent one that caught our attention happened on a college campus in California.
When everyone talks about the tragedy on Santa Barbara, many say: we should improve our gun laws, we should improve our mental health laws, we should do more in our schools…we should and we should. However, these are not the only answers, and sadly there is no one answer, rather, it’s a puzzle, a painful one, that we all need to work on together.
All of our hearts go out to the young adults who lost their lives, the parents of these children, and even the parents and family of the perpetrator, and the entire community of Santa Barbara. All of this affects us, even if we didn’t personally know those affected.
There’s a value in Judaism that means taking of care of others, and saving the world, for what happens, to one person, happens to all of us. Tikkun Olam, is our right, and our responsibility. This is what we need to focus on: within ourselves, our families, our communities, and all communities throughout our nation and the world.
We need to continue to teach our children to reach out to others, those like us, and those different from us. We need to teach ourselves as adults to reach out to all children, the ones that make it easy for us, and the ones that don’t. They all need our love, friendship, and listening ear. The ones without love, guidance, social skills, and often all alone without friends, need us. The loneliness that develops through years of pain, and sadness, eats away at us.
To me, the key piece of the puzzle is empathy- teaching it, knowing it, feeling it, expressing it. When we know and experience that touching others, experiencing others, being connected to others, changes us positively, it alters our brain. It makes us much less likely to strike out at others, as we see them as real, we feel them, and feel their pain.
There’s a lot that parents and teachers can do.
- model empathic behavior
- do not talk negatively about any child – yours or others
- teach tolerance: of differences, physical and emotional
- branch out of your community and volunteer
- be kind: practice kindness to everyone, especially those that test you
- care for others and show it
The little steps we can take can pay off big dividends to the ones who need it the most. Maybe then, we can find the right pieces to this very painful puzzle.
By Debra K. Waranch, LCSW-C, JCS Therapy Services
To learn more about how JCS can help you solve life’s puzzles please visit our home page or call 410-466-9200.