Given the tragic events of today, I wasn't sure that I wanted to write. But then I logged on to facebook and was bombarded with prayer circles, praises of god(s) and finger-pointing to every social problem or politician. Everyone wants to figure out how to prevent something like this from happening ever again. And I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but the truth is: we can't.
There's no way we're ever going to prevent something like this from ever happening. Can we reduce our odds? Of course. But not by banning guns or punishing parents or censoring video games or any other agenda being peddled. Even improving the mental health care system won't prevent it from ever happening, and I'm a mental health care student! The truth is, crazy people do crazy things and crazy people will continue to do crazy things no matter what sacrifices we make or freedoms we give up. The good news is there are far more good people out there than crazy people. The vast majority of us are good, decent people trying to make the best of our lives. This is not a time to beat ourselves up or try to pass the buck to someone else. We need to offer our help and condolences, then continue to make our world a better place.
I know that I'm a bleeding heart liberal, but I believe in the Constitution. It may be the greatest thing our country has going for it and we can't just try to tear parts out whenever something terrible happens. The Second and Fourth Amendments are there for a reason! Look at the TSA agents who chip away at our rights a little more every year so they can offer the illusion of safety in a post-9/11 world. Look at the gun detectors in schools that we put in after Columbine. These actions don't stop crazy people from doing crazy things, they only punish the vast majority of good citizens. If you "ban" guns, that means only the crazy people who are willing to break the law will own them. And if it's not guns it will be home-made explosives or some other awful thing. There is no law that will obliterate violence and tragedy from our lives.
That being said, the best thing you can do to reduce the chances of something tragic happening are to reach out to those around you. We're all social creatures and sometimes even the worst of us need a hug. Don't pray for someone, help them! Prayer is lazy. It's a way of feeling like you're involved and making a difference when all you're doing is closing your eyes and wishing. Wishes aren't going to take away the pain that families are experiencing today, but a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen will make the world seem like a slightly less cold and forbidding place. When something like this happens, you need to remember that for all the tragedy in the world, there is a lot more good.