A Conversation We Should Have Following Newtown

In the aftermath of Friday’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., that tragically took the lives of 26 people, including 20 children, it seems many Americans are ready to have a conversation about how to prevent these acts of violence from taking place again.

For many, the conversation centers on guns and their availability. Some believe that the country should pass gun control legislation that would limit access to guns. Others argue that if schools were armed with guns that they would be safer. There are others who believe that our focus should be on mental health reforms. That if we spent more money and energy on caring for those with mental illnesses that these acts of violence would not occur as often.

I’m not sure there is one single way forward. We should have a conversation about the availability of guns in our country. We should also have a conversation regarding mental health reform. As a country, we are capable of having multiple conversations regarding the issues in our country that Newtown and other tragedies have made clear. I also think there is a third (or more) potential conversation we should engage in following Newtown. That conversation deals with how we view one another.

Do we recognize the commonality that we share with one another, or do we see each other as competitors for the same space (whatever that space might be, ranging from the personal, financial, or cultural)?

I don’t have the answers or the suggestions for this one. I’m not going to articulate a response that is thought out with several different substantiating points. The reason is that I am still wrestling with this question myself. There are times when I believe we see each other as our brother and sister, but then there are others when I believe we see each other for who is in and who is out.

I’m sorry that I cannot offer solutions, but there are no easy answers following Newtown. It is a complex issue that requires the ability to think about the complexities of why violence exists in our country. We need to have a deep conversation about why these things happen. I hope within the conversations we will have in the weeks to come is one about our shared humanity. It is a harder question and it does not have an easy victory point (the passage of new legislation, for instance), but it is one that needs to take place.

If you are willing to engage in this conversation, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share them in the comment space. My honest belief is that if we are willing to engage in this conversation, at the same time we are discussing the other issues, then I believe lasting change and growth will be possible.

I pray that it happens.

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