Change and Sandy Hook Elementary

by Scott Morrice on 12/19/2012

You know its almost hard NOT to write about the recent tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut.

The horror of what happened on December 14, 2012 is almost overwhelming. And it will certainly be burned into our collective consciousness for a very long time. Hopefully.

I say hopefully because, as I suggested in my Choosing How To React post, albeit in a much different context, I sometimes worry that our world, with our penchant for being plugged in 24/7, is getting somewhat desensitized to horror.

There have been many, many other world scale, and recent, tragedies that have stopped us all in our tracks for a time as we struggled to comprehend what had just occurred. But just for a time.

And many of these involved guns. As an easy example I point to the Aurora, Colorado movie theatre shooting in which 12 people were killed and 58 others were injured.

And amazingly, and unfortunately, I think you would have to agree that we all seem to have moved on from that event.

So I really want to express the hope that this terrible event will not be lost from our consciousness quite so quickly. I really hope that it will act for a catalyst for change—and for meaningful change.

And this is a good segue into what I really wanted to write about here.

I think that the events at Sandy Hook represent an opportunity for change. And if you think that these events underline a need for change, then this is important.

I believe that effecting real change sometimes requires a slightly more subtle approach than might otherwise be the case. And this is especially true when you are trying to change behavior and belief systems.

And I also don’t think that affecting change involves blaming.

Most of the time I don’t think you are going to cause the change you are seeking by hitting people over the heads. You are not going to convert the “other side” by telling them how stupid and wrong-minded their ideas are.

When you engage those kinds of tactics you are attacking them as people, their self-worth, their sense of who they are. You are cornering them, blocking them in, you are not allowing them a face-saving “out”.

And by so doing, you are actually forcing them to vigorously defend their positions—against your attack.

And that is not going to go anywhere.

In a sense, I reach back to what I was trying to express in my Individualism—Is This A Problem? post. We have to stop seeing things as “us vs. them”. There is no one completely right answer—here, or anywhere.

And it is not compromise that will carry, truly carry, the day. As I quote Lynne McTaggart as saying, to move forward we need to focus on the glue that lies at the centre of relationships between people—we need to focus on sharing what each side of the relationship has to offer the other.

Having said that, I don’t know where that takes us in this instance. Except that it does take us away from approaching this on an “us vs. them” basis.

But as I mentioned earlier, to affect change we must also avoid blame.

Blame often also results in strong and aggressive defenses. And again, this is not going to help achieve the results you want.

Although I understand it, I found it interesting and a bit sad to read that there were 26 Christmas trees and 26 teddy-bears lined up at the memorial at Sandy Hook.

But—there were 27 victims.

Clearly what was not being acknowledged was the death of the shooter’s mother.

I am assuming an element of blame here.

And yet, the reports all seem to indicate that notwithstanding the fact that she did own a collection of guns—which arguably is not out of place in an area that apparently had an active community of gun enthusiasts—she was also a fairly typical mother. It appears that she was very involved in her gardening, was sociable and fairly active in her community, and was generous to strangers. And she apparently was also burdened by worry about her son who suffered from a developmental disorder.

And then her son shot her four times in the face.

I know it is hard, but I think we should be remembering her too.

I believe it is all part of moving forward, and effecting the change we know is needed.

I’ll keep you posted.

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