One month has passed since I last posted and as far as I can tell most of us are still here. There has been another terrible tragedy that rocked my world, since I have lived near Newtown, CT, just as I now live near Aurora, CO. I didn’t know any of the victims in either of these shootings, but my heart aches just the same.
Each of these incidents are more horrific than the one before. Such a loss of innocence for the elementary school children who witnessed this autrocity. As a professor of childhood development and positive psychology the mornings following terrible shootings, including those at Virginia Tech and Tuscon, AZ, Columbine and Minnesota, I face a classroom full of scared and unhappy students. As a practitioner of meditation since 1972, my unique perspective on the integration of Western psychological theory and Eastern practices helped me to calm them as we discuss several issues such attacks bring up about human nature.
In April 1999, the academic community learned something about about the effects of bullying from the students who carried out the Columbine massacre. As a result many high schools initiated programs to quell this growing trend. The VA Tech shooting in April 2007 awakened educators across the country to pay more attention to early warning signals of mental illness, and put additional safety nets in place. In January 2011, we became more aware of the harm that can be caused when a young man took his political views to the extreme in the AZ shootings that killed six and wounded U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. What we as a society will learn from these two most recent violent attacks is yet to be determined. We can hardly find a place in our hearts to assimilate this level of hatred gone so out of control.
Perhaps, as a society we need to take responsibility for the violence we allow young children to witness through movies like Batman and video games that teach how to kill, such as “Angry Birds.”
A whole genre of media glorifies violent attacks by showing good overcoming evil, but unfortunately what is “good” is often in the eyes of the beholder. What is good to me, may not be what you think is good. In this era of situational ethics, groups of people define good or evil and then teach that to the next generation. As the stories around these two most recent massacres unfold, we may learn what groups influenced the actions of the young men who carried out these unbelievable crimes.
What did they endure in their childhood to plan the hurting of others in such destructive and violent ways? The Aurora shootings were the worst mass killing in US History, and now Newtown has topped that one in less than six months! And this group of victims is even younger and more vulnerable. This trend must be stopped. In the past, many of us have turned our heads and looked the other way when the questions come up, “Does violent entertainment cause violence?” or “Will gun control laws be the answer?” The usual academic argument is that billions partake in violent media and millions have permits to carry guns, yet do not go out and shoot people, so these things alone cannot be the cause.
I alone can do nothing about the mega bucks earned by an industry that perpetuates violent media enjoyed by so many as a catharsis. However, for those of us who do not see the value in this method of relief, I offer a solution for working within our individual hearts and minds to clear the internal fear energy many of us experience after such violent attacks.
I would love to schedule a FREE Discovery Session with you to see if we are a fit to work together to ease our collective pain. Please give me a call at 303-428-0968 to schedule 30 minutes of your time with me. I look forward to serving YOU!