By now you might have heard about the shooting in Jacksonville, Florida that ended three people’s lives. Including the shooter’s.
By now you might have seen the hundreds of tweets and posts flying around calling for harder gun laws. You might have even seen a few people blaming the accused shooter for being a white male.
By now your head might just be spinning in rage and confusion by all of it.
But instead of blaming guns and whites and males for what happened, we should take a look at the situation and blame what is really the cause. The lack of love and respect.
Before you post a response, though, hear me out.
If you look at all the shootings that have happened not only in the United States, but around the world, you will see a connection between all the shooters, terrorists, etc. They all have lack love and respect for others. And for themselves.
Anyone can blame the amount of gun control for the shootings that we’ve seen on the news in recent years, but that isn’t the main problem. Even in countries that ban guns altogether, there are still terrorist attacks and crimes being committed. And if you take a look at history, even before guns existed people would still harm and kill others for various reasons. So to say that banning guns altogether will get rid of the devastation mass shootings leave behind is ignoring that if a person really wants to harm others, he or she doesn’t need a gun. And even if guns are outlawed completely, do you think a person willing to kill would also be willing to abide by the law?
But, then, how do we stop these attacks from happening? How do we keep safe in a scary, terrifying world that just seems to get worse by the day?
With love and respect. The same two things that these shooters are lacking.
When I mention love, I don’t mean romantic or idealistic love. I mean agape (a-gah-peh). Agape is selfless love. It’s where you think of others and how your actions will affect them. It’s the reason I help my mother, even when I’m tired and just want to sleep. It’s the reasons I hang out with my friends, even when some of them think that me being a Christian is just wrong. It’s the reason I shut my mouth when I think of a great come back. It’s the reason I try my hardest to think of why others do the things they do or think the things they think, even if I don’t agree with them.
And when I mention respect, I mean the action that stems from agape love. For when you start to love others with agape love, you go beyond tolerating them. You start to respect them for being a person, just like you. Even if you are worlds apart from them.
But how does this apply to those shooters? For one reason or another, they don’t know or don’t care about agape love or respect. For one reason or another, their lives have not been the best. They were never taught these important aspects. Or if they were, something in their lives made them change their minds. I know from one look at the internet – especially on certain social media sites – that it does make sense for there to be more and more shootings in recent years. I rarely see love or respect on sites where people under the guise of anonymity can say anything they want.
Now I don’t know the story of each and every shooter of recent years, whether in the United States or throughout the world. But I can bet that something or someone in their lives led them to commit the crimes they did. That doesn’t mean I can’t do something to try and stop further crimes.
Let’s go back to the questions I had above about how we can do something to stop attacks. One of the first things to do is to always be prepared for attacks. Be on guard and listen and watch those around you. Pay attention to the world outside your phone, laptop, etc. Paying attention will help you get out of the way when it’s necessary.
The most important thing to do, though, is to treat those around you with love and respect. And not just the people you converse with on a daily basis. Yes, it is good to be kind to your family, friends, and colleagues. But also think about those you pass on the street, or the customers you have to help at work, or even those you talk to online. Showing just a smile or complimenting them, or trying your best to serve them best is showing love. Not saying harsh, cruel words, even if the situation you’re in validates it, shows respect. And if you show them love and respect, they are more likely to show others the same.
Now, some of you might be thinking that love and kindness won’t get this world anywhere. But I promise it will. Kind words can save lives. Keeping harsh ones back can save lives. Doing good deeds to just do them can save lives. Not doing harsh ones can save lives!
A great friend of mine just saying that I was something special to her saved my life. And I try to repay that each and every day.
If these shooters were shown love and respect – if they got the help they needed when their minds went to dark and deadly thoughts – maybe they wouldn’t have committed their crimes.
If we show love and respect to the victims, instead of using their pain and deaths as a way to outlaw one category of weapon, maybe their wounds could heal and losses could be put to rest properly.
If we show love and respect to the outsiders, odd ones, loners, and weird people of our community, maybe there would be no reason to pick up a gun, or any weapon, in hatred.
Let’s not focus too much on the guns and gun control, but how we as individuals talk and do to others. It may seem optimistic . . . but maybe that’s what the world needs right now. Love and respect in all we say and do.