Cliff Schecter’s 2014 article from Moyers & company suggests 5 excellent ways ordinary citizens can have an impact on gun violence. I encourage you to read the article and do what you can.
But I also suggest a 6th way all of us, regardless of political affiliation or position on the issue of gun violence, can have an impact. I suggest we all need to breathe deeply and reset our respect attitude. We all need to look for and nurture the value in every person we encounter. The sweet little child across the street. The difficult bagger at the grocery. The aggressive driver in our trunk. The grouchy neighbor next door.
What would that do?
1) Every person would be valued and supported and less inclined to turn to violence for attention or validation.
2) By paying better attention to all those around us, we would likely identify those in great need of help before they turned to violence.
3) The very difficult subject of gun violence could be discussed rationally by all sides of the topic, and an acceptable resolution reached.
4) The big picture of mental health/mental illness would not get lost in the debate and could actually be addressed.
5) The polarization in this country would be significantly reduced and we could approach and solve other divisive issues as well.
As I said in Resetting Respect, being respectful to all people, ideas and things seems simple. It IS simple. And profound. It only requires an attitude adjustment, a shift from, “Show me,” to “You are valuable.” We can start slowly and build the habit. It is contagious — respect begets respect. There is no penalty for slip-ups other than the status quo. Respect doesn’t hurt anyone or anything. It doesn’t cost anything other than a little mental effort to establish the habit. Worst case scenario is that by living respectfully we lower our collective stress level. Best case scenario is that respect becomes the norm and much of the rancor and posturing and pain and hatred in our society are eliminated. Then we, as individuals, as a society, and as a world can begin to address the major problems confronting us with a real chance to do something about them. In fact, our respectful attitudes will already have begun the process!