Why what the President asked … is so important

This post is not meant for speaking on any of the following: recognizing the shooter, his actions, or the reason for why he did what he did in Newtown, Connecticut. This is an extremely hard topic to talk about, seeing as how I’m tucked away in another state and not a member of the community that’s been affected by this. The truth is that I don’t completey understand what has transpired and though I’ll read news stories for the next few days or so, I’ll still be left at a loss for how to react.

I feel saddened more than anything else. Saddened that this has become a familiar pattern in the heart of the U.S. A disturbing event takes place, the media explodes with up-to-date coverage, experts weigh in on what “went wrong” and then after two weeks of honoring those who committed heroic acts, the world goes back to apparent normalcy. It’s fast-becoming a reality that what’s normal was once considered to be a once in a lifetime occurence. And through it all, we focus on the past rather than focusing on the future. We wish to explain the past in order to establish a better future. The fact of the matter is that the past is over and it’s a new day. And that is where we should be headed.

After watching President Obama’s address at the Interfaith Vigil tonight, I felt compelled to reiterate some of his words. Rather than criticize the man, I wanted to touch on what he spoke of towards the end of his speech. It was the question he asked to all who were in attendance or listening at home: “why are we here?” It’s probably the crucial question to be asking these days. Not just as a nation, but for every individual residing within.

Why are we here?

Are we here to spread darkness? Or are we here to perpetuate life? Are we here to create confusion? Or are we here to spread the good news? The core of every human heart is asking these questions. But instead of asking these of ourselves when the terrible strikes, why not ask this question every day? And if we continue to do this, we can recognize what is important. And in doing so, we’ll be able to prevent the terribly impossible long before it even has a chance to occur.

DGT: “Gun control? We need some bullet control!” – Chris Rock

For future reference, DGT merely stands for “Downright Good Thought” (I’ve gotten tired of always typing that out and plus, my pinky is still broken so any time I can type less, I’m going to take it).

This post will hopefully be quick to the point but bear with me if I get a little wordy. I wanted to start off with a quote from comedian Chris Rock who did a standup act quite a few years ago in which he talked about the state of gun usage in America. He addressed about how people could just walk around shooting up folks due to the right to bear arms and so forth. In order to parody the situation, he claimed that what we really needed was “bullet control”. One bullet would be worth a million dollars, or more even. That way, if someone was really out to get you, he’d know for certain that he wanted you dead due to impact it would have on his pocketbook. It’s relatively morbid humor, but I remember laughing along with Mr. Rock during this particular show of his. It was funny since who could imagine paying such a large sum of money just to have bullets in a gun? Honestly, who could?

However, in light of the recent tragedy befalling Chiefs linebacker Jevon Belcher and his now-passed girlfriend, it seems like the cost of the bullet really wouldn’t matter. If you are unfamiliar with this sad story, the former linebacker had apparently murdered his girlfriend last week and then promptly took his own life later that day. He did so right outside the stadium at which Kansas City plays their home football games as well. Yet another unfortunate and sad tale synonymous with professional athletes and the inherent pressures linked therein. I am sorry to those close to this family during a time of grievance. It’s something that no family ever dreams of or wants to endure.

Getting back to Mr. Rock’s argument, bullet control seems like the right answer here. Make the cost of something so ridiculously high that nobody could buy a dangerous weapon in the first place. For an individual who plays professional sports though, money can be an expendable thing. The cost of the bullet is of no consequence; only accessibility in retrieving said bullets. Any celebrity, pro athlete, or person of authority with enough capital could buy these so-called million dollar bullets at his leisure. There’s no denying that.

So what to do now? Following this situation, the Chiefs decided to go on and play their regularly scheduled game on Sunday, the 2nd of December. During the national broadcast, acclaimed reporter Bob Costas took a few moments to do something that most TV journalists never do – he spoke out on the issue from a personal level. He called for increased gun control across the States and if there were greater restrictions (dare I say, like bullet control) then these two individuals might still be alive today.

In hindsight, he may have a point, but that’s only hindsight speaking. What’s done is done.

I’m sure that Mr. Costas had the best intentions in mind when he made that statement to the public this past week. I’m almost 100% certain of that. Somewhere in his heart he felt compelled to voice genuine concern and since he had the resources available to him, he made a plea to do something about a growing epidemic in not just sports, but in all facets of American livelihood. I applaud Mr. Costas for speaking out but what I was really waiting to hear from him did not get mentioned at all.

You see, merely taking away the gun does not solve the problem at hand. True, if it were illegal to have these guns, then maybe this event wouldn’t have transpired. But it wouldn’t have happened via the use of a gun. It could have been a knife, or a sling, or who knows what. The point is, there was a deeper issue at hand which drove this individual to make such a rash decision. Regardless of having the gun at all, it was likely Mr. Belcher’s wish to inflict harm to not only himself but to another close to him.

The burning question left for everyone else then is this: WHY. Why did this happen? Who is responsible? And what can we do to alleviate this from happening in the future? Is it bullet control? No, we know that people will find ways around that since money is a material item which can be bartered for, worked for, or accumulated. Should we just take all guns away and outlaw them? No, we know that people will still commit heinous crimes without the use of a gun.

So where does this leave us? I’ve meditated on the subject and can only find one real solution: transformation of the individual. What does that mean? It means a change in the way we live our lives; all the way from the ground up. Our morals, our values, our beliefs; the whole nine yards and then some. It means proactively seeking those who are tortured and broken. Give this person the support he needs because we know, deep down, that this person matters. For if someone can feel love, then he’ll be awakened to alternatives that don’t spell the end of his own life (or the life of another). Am I asking people to sit in circles, hold hands, and sing “Kum ba ya” with one another? No, absolutely not. There is far more work to be done than simply telling a troubled person, “Hey, I care and guess what, you matter.” It’s much, much more than that, but we need to recognize this step first if we are ever going to turn potential tales of tragedy into retellings of rebirth and redemption.

My hope is that you would read this and understand what I’m talking about.