Who wasn’t shocked and disheartened by yet another tragic mass shooting in Aurora, Colo.?
As with millions of Americans, our heartfelt condolences and prayers go out to the victims of this murderous spree and their families.
We, too, commend the heroes who gave their lives to save others. Truly, every victim of this reprehensible executioner is in some way heroic, for they were injured or died in the midst of a cultural war in which even our theaters and schools have become battlegrounds.
Moreover, we salute and support the Colorado peace officers, emergency medical and relief personnel, bomb squads, counselors, crises management, etc. – all of whom care for violent crime victims and rally to reduce the increasing tides of illegal conduct and misguided behavior, like their colleagues across our country.
As Americans, all of our concern is: What we can do about the increase in violent crimes? As Dr. Marisa Randazzo, a psychologist who contributed to an extensive study of school shootings for the Secret Service, concurred, “… the intensity and frequency of the attacks have increased since the events at Columbine.”
So how can we continue to help reduce and prevent violent crimes in our communities?
First, as with most societies’ ills, the key to curbing crime is not more government expansion and spending. Neither is the answer dissolving our Second Amendment rights; countries with super strict gun ownership laws have equally violent crimes, and it’s also been proven that taking guns from good guys doesn’t prohibit bad guys from obtaining them. Our founders had a far better solution than more government and taking away guns from law-abiding citizens.
Though our founders initiated our government, they didn’t expect it or the law of the land to establish and maintain civility. As proud as they were of their newfound republic, they would turn to and trust in God and “We the People” to usher in life, liberty, happiness, decency, respect, morality, honesty, restraint, to name a few.
George Washington warned us in his presidential Farewell Address about a time in America’s future where we might be tempted to discard the pillars of civility: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation deserts the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
Curbing violent crimes is still more about what we do rather than government does. The answer is still more about nature’s law within us rather than man’s law outside of us.
We must return to a nation where mutual respect is king – where I am my brother’s keeper and we agree to disagree agreeably. It’s time to renew our commitment to the basic premises of humanity: Do unto others as you would have them do to you, and love our neighbor as ourselves.
In today’s world, each American must also be vigilant against crime. We must have zero tolerance for our volatility to violence. We must come together as community leaders to brainstorm solutions rather than expect our politicians in Washington, D.C., to come up with the answers. We must be equally willing to reach out to those lost souls who feel marginalized and disenfranchised by the world around them. We must also reconsider the power of our own models on our families, and that our children will likely model our treatment of others.
Beyond enhancing these internal and inherent qualities, we need to come together as individuals, families, community groups, schools, churches and local law enforcement to strategize and communicate, educate community residents about victims’ rights, enhance public awareness about what we all can do to increase our survival in the midst of fatal crimes, make plans to offer victims assistance (via intervention, food closets, temporary shelter, mental health counseling, legal help and other emergency services), track violent offenders, further crack down on children and family violence violations, ensure additional necessary securities and network through the Internet with other help agencies.
I might play a tough guy who protects victims from bad guys on screen, but in real life I’m also an advocate for those at-risk, too, particularly through our KickStartKids foundation. My wife, Gena, and I consider KickStartKids our life’s mission. KickStartKids means building strong moral character in our youth through the martial arts. Its purpose is to help raise self-esteem and instill discipline and respect that so many children are lacking today.
Two other warriors who are raising the bar of societal and youth decency are our dear friends, Darrell and Sandy Scott, who spearhead Rachel’s Challenge in memory of their beautiful and kind daughter, Rachel, who was murdered at Columbine High School more than a decade ago. Rachel said, “I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same.” KickStartKids and Rachel’s Challenge have recently partnered to further help American youth and families.
Lastly, regarding the victims of the Aurora shooting, let us remember there is a promise in the Bible, “What others mean for harm, God will turn around and use for the good.” It also says, “God is near to the brokenhearted.”
May God’s nearness be a comfort to the Colorado victims and their families.