I wanted to share a brief response to the Wisconsin shooting that occurred on Sunday. CBS News reported that the shooter killed three people and injured several others, thus marking the second mass shooting of its kind in Wisconsin over the past year.
Upon hearing of such atrocities, many people respond with anger or sadness. They wonder how an individual could commit such a callous, violent act. They make political stands about how gun laws are too lax and pose questions about the perpetrators’ mental conditions and childhood upbringings (thinking of the buzz around the Aurora shooter here).
Rather than rushing to assign culpability to some ‘evil’ wrongdoer or to the faults of the ‘system,’ I instead wish to point out this habit of rushing to blame other people for the crimes we hear about on the news. Yes, Colorado or Wisconsin may be hours away, in communities of which you may not know a single person, yet these places and people are not as distant as you might initially think. Each action one takes should be viewed in the grander scheme of things, for it is impossible to know how far a rude gesture to a fellow driver or an unnecessary temper with a waitress might go. You and your action just might be the last thing to set off someone’s horrible day, propelling their anger even further to influence even more people’s lives in a negative way. I don’t believe in karma, but I do believe that hatred begets hatred. And the only surefire way to stop the propulsion of hate is for you, yourself to do something about it.
I do not mean to blame us all for tragedies such as the one in Wisconsin. I do realize that, realistically, many situations are out of our immediate control. But taking the time to do a little self-reflection surely brings perspective on how influential our individual actions can be.
As the election draws closer, and as we feel strained to choose the “right” candidate to fix America’s social problems, I hope that we, as Americans, realize that the solution to many of our troubles does not only lie within reformed policy or sharp legislation. Many of the solutions lie right in front of you in your home or community. With a little care for others, consideration for strangers, a sincere “thank you!” to the postman, or even just a smile rather than a grumpy scowl to your neighbor, you hone the potential to bring about palpable, positive change in the world.
I think we’ve all heard this lesson before, but it never hurts to hear it again—especially in the wake of such a tragedy. Yet focusing on our hurt or anger toward the situation does nothing to alleviate the bad. To truly compress the bad, we must overcome it with good.
By: Nicole Grinstein
(Photo courtesy of sxc.hu)