When the Sandy Hook tragedy happened, I was more than a little distraught. At the time, my kids were 4 and 7 years old. My friend — having seen all my Facebook posts on the matter — called to ask if I really thought my kids were going to be in a school shooting. She wasn’t being cold-hearted, just realistic. I assured her that I knew the odds were slim.
Unfortunately, the odds seem a lot less astronomical now than they did then. Still pretty unlikely, but definitely in the realm of possibility. By the way, it was just the realm of possibility that had me so distraught in the first place. I mean… how could this happen? And how does it continue to happen?
I’d venture to say that events like Sandy Hook don’t just HAPPEN. Violence needs a breeding ground, one void of mindfulness. One actually nourished by what seems to be the opposite of mindfulness. Can that be a thing we talk about? In addition to gun control, individual rights, mental illness, violent media etc… can we talk about the opposite of mindfulness as a possible root cause?
What would that be called? This opposite? A quick search on antonyms brought up: apathy, carelessness, disregard, idleness, ignorance, indifference, negligence, thoughtlessness… to name a few. While we don’t have a single word, the opposite of mindfulness is most certainly a lot of unpleasantness. And I imagine — when mixed in with a few other ingredients (fear and shame) — the end results are aggression and violence.
So what can we do? Nothing is going to eradicate violence completely — but can we do something? Can we nourish the soil with something better? Empower children with the tools to live happy and healthy lives? After all, kids (and adults) that feel good about themselves — ones that are mindful of themselves, others and the larger world around them — are not even going to bully others… much less pull a gun on them. Why? Because you can’t be centered and angry at the same time.