Saturday, January 25, 2014

Too Close to Home

I live in a town right next to a town that has been touted as a racial utopia.  Columbia, Maryland has been the center of Howard County.  An ideal place to live.  Filled with good schools, safe streets, and a community that embraces several different, races, cultures, religions, and sexual orientations.  At the center of Columbia, is the Mall in Columbia.  One of the few strong traditional malls still left in the area.  It is literally at the center of the town.  I remember joking that if you are ever lost you can still make it back to the mall from any direction.  Today this quaint town and a place where I basically call home experienced a shooting at that same mall.  And it is all really too close to home.

I know what is going to happen.  It is the same thing that happens after every major shooting tragedy.  There will be talk of gun violence.  A surge in people calling for gun control measures, while there is an equal response of pro-gun lobbyists.  Maybe some laws are changed, maybe not.  But it will all be forgotten, as with any other tragedy in a few months, only to remember in each annual memory of the tragic day.

Today is different.  Why?  Well the shooting comes on the cusp of numerous public shootings in the past few days and weeks.  In fact, I was commenting with my friend just yesterday about how it seems like there had been a college shooting each day this week.  We are becoming so plagued by violence that each CNN alert I receive is referring to a shooting somewhere.  I never thought that today's shooting would be five minutes from my house.

Don't worry this post is not going to be a call for gun control legislation.  And no I am not about to declare that I have a pro-gun stance.  No this post is about compassion and love.  You see to me, all of these shootings across the country are a sign for help.  It shows to me that many people are hurting and are in turn hurting others.  I am convinced that we as a nation need to show more love and caring for each other despite our differences.  It is time that we all realized that we may be individuals in this state, country, and world, but that does not mean that our loves are not interconnected.

I also think it is time that we really start to take a serious note of mental illness.  In many communities mental illness is treated as a taboo never to be talked about.  Mental illness is not a sign of weakness.  It does not make you any less of a person.  Treating mental illness can no longer have such a stigma attached.  We all need to become comfortable with both noticing the signs and helping friends, family, and co-workers receive the help they need.  

So today I ask that we stay prayed up.  I ask everyone to show more compassion to both those who you know and to those who are strangers.  You never know what is going on in someone else's world.  Maybe a a smile, laugh, a hug, or just simply treating someone like a decent human being could be the difference between a tragedy and just another day.


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