This is not an attempt to be lighthearted about a very serious subject. I am, just like many of you, a person with a lot of feelings about all the shootings in our country, just another person who feels like we’re all banging our heads against the wall over and over with nothing accomplished but a bloody, pulpy mess. Whatever process our government needs to get through to change gun laws; whatever lobbying walls must be broken through; whatever drawn out political war is happening within America’s own boundaries, the rest of us regular human beings are sitting here trying to figure out what we can do besides wringing our hands, shouting our support of this idea or railing against that. Short of making social media proclamations and writing think pieces, it feels like there is nothing immediately meaningful, we can do.
Though it might sound incredibly naive or stupid, this is my small way of at least trying to communicate, human being to human being, a few tiny thoughts about what a person who feels the need to shoot at other people could possibly do instead of killing someone. They’re simple things; things anyone could come up with, but maybe a person who is filled with so much rage or hatred that killing another person seems the only recourse; maybe that person could slow down for one long breath, and head in a different direction. It’s possible none of these things would work, but who knows? Just one of them could.
1. If you are a passionate, fervent person who strongly believes in something you would even consider becoming violent over, support that cause in a non-violent way. If you believe abortion is wrong, volunteer at a counseling center, or work at an adoption center; create informational pamphlets, work at any kind of organization, religious or otherwise, that shares your ideals and allow you to make an impact in a positive way. That is a powerful way to share yourself and support your cause. Give yourself to people who believe as you do and allow yourself to positively effect change.
2. Talk to someone. Anyone. Your best friend, your mother, your lover, your dog, your fish. If you have no one to talk to, call a help line; domestic violence, suicide prevention, 911, walk into a church or a temple, a counselor’s office. It doesn’t matter if it’s the “right” person or organization, just tell them it’s an emergency and what you’re feeling.
3. Think about someone who fills your heart with love. Please. Let it wash over and envelop you; let it take the place of the hatred.
4. Run as fast as you can. Anywhere — around the block, into the woods, up and down the stairs in your house — it doesn’t matter where, but run as hard and fast as you can. Get those endorphins going, and let whatever’s bouncing around in your head out a different way. In that time, you can gain control of your thoughts enough to truly think, and then go talk to someone about those thoughts.
5. Scream at the top of your lungs. Yell it out, cry it out, scream “Fuuuuuuck” as loudly and angrily as you want, as many times as you need to. You know how babies cry themselves out, sometimes even to sleep? Do that. People might look at you strangely, but it sure as hell beats the alternative.
I grew up in a house with exploding tempers and anger, and as an adult I’m not immune to losing control of my own anger (yelling, road rage), but neither have I ever thought of using a gun to resolve my feelings. I know the power of having a gun in my hand but for me, that power is terrifying, not something I want to direct against another person. That said, I certainly can’t comprehend what someone who’s mentally ill, or what an extremist might think and obviously in such cases, the suggestions I’ve made are inappropriate. This is simply me, desperately pleading with my fellow humans to stop what we’re doing to each other. Just, please. I love you all.