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Rethinking the Power of Peace

by ericarunsamerica on December 22nd, 2012

Hey Stony Brook-

One week ago today, our nation stood witness  to one of the most devastating mass-shootings in our history.  On December 14, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, 26 people lost their lives, 20 of whom were young children.  Additionally, the shooter took the life of his mother and then, ultimately, his own life, bringing the grand total to 28 shot dead.  These children had their whole lives ahead of them-with their years cut short, they missed out on milestones that most of us take for granted: getting their driver’s licenses, graduating high school, going to college, starting a career.  Even worse, they fell prey to a disturbed young man who was the same age as many of us here at Stony Brook.  Though we may never know for sure what compelled 20-year-old Adam Lanza to engage on his reign of terror in his small-town community of Newtown, this event reiterates the need for Americans to change our relationship to violence, in particular, our obsession with guns.

Recent polls have suggested that gun ownership has reached nearly 90 guns per 100 people in the United States (Reuters).  Among Americans who do report having a gun in their home or on their property, 62% own more than one firearm! (UNODC)

For what reason?  These weapons, especially semi-automatic and automatic rifles (which require less re-loading to shoot more bullets than non-automatic weapons), are extremely powerful.  Such weapons were once reserved for use exclusively by the members of our military and police forces.  However, guns and our violent culture have mainstreamed: now millions of Americans over the age of 18 exercise their right to “bear arms,” purchasing guns for personal use.  In addition, wars involving the US have become more frequent, and have escalated in recent years.  Blockbuster movies, hit songs, and popular video games perpetuate this culture of murder and death.  The NRA is proposing to have armed guards on school campuses nationwide to help “keep the peace,” which would put guns in the faces of children on an everyday basis (and would cost approximately $8 billion, or $80,000 per guard {NPR}).  We as humans should be ashamed.

Why do Americans feel compelled to buy guns and be violent?  What is holding us back from recognizing that, our neighbors–despite our different ethnicities, ages, socioeconomic statuses, religious or spiritual beliefs–are people, just like you and me. Instead of jealousy and contempt, why don’t we focus on peace and understanding?

We need not “love” every person we meet.  We need not agree with every idea we hear.  However, we need to tolerate, respect, and be kind to each and every human, animal, and plant we encounter on this earth.

On this December 21, 2012, we may not have experienced the Mayan Apocalypse that was predicted.  However, if we are to succeed as a culture, a nation, a people, we must learn to unite as one, instead of driving wedges between us and our fellow humans.  Our current emphasis on guns and violence is destroying our country, our planet.  We need to change, and I am confident that, at Stony Brook in particular, we can work to foster a kind and caring environment where we support our fellow students, not shoot them down.

Instead of drawing differences between you and your neighbors, look for the similarities you share.  When you look for the best in others, they will undoubtedly see the best in you.

peace. love. run.


From → Erica

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