There was a shooting in the mall two miles down the street from my house today. Chaos ensued. It was a Saturday morning, families everywhere. Facebook and Twitter lit up, texts were flying, everyone worried about loved ones. Some friends were there. Some other friends’ relatives were there. “Too close to home,” everyone thought. “What has the world come to?” everyone asked.
I’m not here to talk about gun rights or gun control. I want to talk about how we got to this place where anyone, regardless of his or her access to guns, believes a definitive, irreversible act of violence is the answer to a problem. I believe we are losing a generation of resiliency.
I believe it sucks when someone feels a really bad feeling–be it anger, frustration, grief, sadness. Or it sucks if someone does not like the answer or turn of events, or feels life circumstances aren’t fair or just. Yeah, usually it more than sucks. It can be personally devastating. You may feel like you want to die, or you may feel like you want to hurt someone, or even want to kill someone. But see, feeling suicidal or homicidal is very different than being suicidal or homicidal. How does someone cross that line?
I believe it happens when the person believes there is no other alternative. When desperation sets in, and they have run out of coping skills. When they no longer feel like they can tolerate sitting in that bad feeling. When they do not know how to use their words to tell someone how they feel, or use their words to ask for a compromise. When they feel like they’re not being seen or their point of view not validated. When they can’t tolerate life’s turn of events and have no capacity to see that this too shall change and there is always hope for another day.
We need to do a better job with teaching people better coping skills. Teach them the ability to tolerate negative emotions and crises. Teach them how to tap into internal strengths to weather life’s storms. With or without gun controls, we need to arm our citizens with resiliency and coping skills. Otherwise, sleepy suburban towns will continue to make national headlines every week. Otherwise, it will continue to be too close to home. We need to start teaching coping skills and resiliency in our homes.