Why Can’t We Just Get Along…
Thanksgiving morning seemed so full of hope. Nearly 6000 people gathered to celebrate life, running, family, charity and food. All shapes, sizes, colors and personalities. All were sharing a goal of getting from the start to the finish of one of four races and most enjoying the experience with family and friends. No one is excluded from participating. It makes you think there really is enough good in the world to prevail.
Those thoughts were shattered by the reality of the rapid fire from a weapon of mass destruction that ended so many young lives in the cruelest of ways at Sandy Hook Elementary school. Like so many of the perpetrators of such violence, this person seemed marginalized from society and unable to deal with its morals. Whether that detachment came from his own desire, his family’s behavior, his community’s inability to bring him into its fold or some mental illness, the results were tragic. I write this not to provide some list of excuses for his behavior, but as part of my own anguish about hearing what happened and wanting to understand how it could happen and to find ways I can do my part to stop this senseless plague that seems to strike at least once a month somewhere in our country. Of course the numbers killed in these mass attacks are only a small part of the daily violence we see across our country, a number that seems to average a little over 31,000 deaths by gun per year. The most shocking thing is that way more than half of these deaths are suicides.
Somehow we have to learn to understand how someone can drift so far away from that sense of community and the values most of us have for promoting, preserving and protecting life that they can commit such acts. Our lives move so fast and are often so intense and sometimes we have to fight so hard for our own survival or well being, we don’t have the time or strength to understand what is going on around us. Sometimes we simply cover it up in ideology. While I have no doubt that our nation’s policy on the use and control of guns is an important part of the discussion in finding solutions, I also have no doubt it is not the most important and it often distracts us.
December 24th is one of my favorite running days. It is the Run to Posey’s. Members of the Tallahassee community and their family and friends will gather in the morning along the St. Marks Trail, with the majority of them starting near the corner of Capital Circle and Woodville Highway. They will work their way along the 15 and ½ mile bike path to St. Marks, once the home of Posey’s. Many others will start along the way and run a shorter distance, some will bike and others will start at the end and run out and back. But all along the way there will be laughter, good conversation and a sense of community. And at the end, there will be a gathering at the Riverside Café. Everyone is welcome.
I am not silly enough to think things like the Run to Posey’s will prevent all school house shootings. After all, the run has been ongoing for many years. But I do believe it is a great example of the kind of community spirit that can, if pushed out far enough, do more to prevent senseless violence than anything else I know. We have to find what it is that polarizes us, destroys our civility and reduces us to solutions that require a gun – whether we point the gun at ourselves or at a school full of children. It is not a problem that will be solved through the political battles over gun control, even if there are important things to be done there. It is a problem that we must learn to address one race, one PTA meeting, one volunteer coach and one tutor or mentor at a time.