Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Dream of Peace for Our Children

Did I hear the man from that gun organization correctly?  The only thing that beats a bad man with a gun is a good man with (I presume a bigger) gun?  Well, I guess, if you're making trillions by selling weapons and representing the armament cartels around the world, that would be a good solution for you.  Everyone knows that the only reason to fight gun violence with more guns is to make money for gun manufacturers.  If you want to hunt, you don't need assault weapons.  But, If your government scares you so much that you need automatic weapons to defend yourself from it, maybe you need another country to live in.   

In March of 1990, Jim was watching the news one evening, when I walked through the room and caught a report about the little Brooklyn boy, David Opont, who was set on fire by kids in his neighborhood for refusing to try crack.  I flipped out.  We lived and worked in Bridgeport, CT at the time with many urban kids and we needed to do something to make life better for them.  Certainly, I felt, this great country can offer its children safety and protection.  So, Jim and I sought funding and over four years produced  "Child’s Play: A Violence Prevention Media Resource" for schools and the community, including  an hour TV documentary, “We The Children: Violence in the Lives of Inner City Children.”

In December of 2012, still living in CT, we experience the tragedy of Sandy Hook. I’m sad, shocked and outraged, but not surprised.  For "Child's Play" we interviewed two of America’s leading authorities on violence, it's impact on children and violence prevention as a public health issue: Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Stith and Dr. James Garbarino. They both said the same thing; people across America aren’t feeling this problem because it’s happening mostly in urban communities, but the problem of angry young men, violence and too many guns will hit the suburbs.

In a recent MS Magazine blog post on the Sandy Hook massacre, Soraya Chemaly, points out that the problem of angry young men wielding guns and murdering people is quite common in our country.  "Domestic" violence doesn't get the attention a mass killing does, but it is a problem of epidemic public health proportions. After all, she points out, the first to die that day in Sandy Hook was the 20 year old assailant's mother. (Ms. Blog,"Why won't we talk about violence and masculinity in America?")

This gun ad is reprinted from the MS article, it's for one of the guns that made the Sandy Hook massacre possible.   "Consider your man card reissued?" Really? How does this play in the psyche of a disturbed, conflicted, enraged 20 year old male raised on the glamor of guns and the adrenalin of violence?  

Perhaps we have reached the tipping point, there is a lot we can do to make sure Sandy Hook is never repeated again.  As then Chief of Bridgeport, CT Police, Tom Sweeney, states in "We The Children; " America's going to have to choose between keeping children safe and its love of guns. Stop wringing your hands, there are no new arguments, they've been the same for the past 25 years, (and he's talking almost 20 years ago); make a decision."
Motivated by love and the desire to protect our children, we can make effective changes that don't force them to carry the burden of our problems.  I shudder when I think of all the sweet boys diagnosed with Aspergers, Autism or even ADHD who might become the scapegoats and focus of this crisis because the powerful gun lobby can spin the PR and buy a public approach that takes the "heat" off them; even if it is, as usual, blame the victim. 

The idea that we should fight gun proliferation in our communities with more legally sanctioned gun proliferation is ludicrous.  What does it do to your educational experience to have armed guards roaming the corridors? Ask inner-city children or just consider how you feel about flying these days.  Gun control legislation, especially laws controlling public access to military style assault weapons, ammo and mandating careful background checks for licensing is desperately needed; yet, there is no one factor and no one solution to our epidemic of violence.

Together, using many approaches and our combined effort we can create the culture we want for our children.  In my dream of how we respond to this crisis, we each pick something we are passionate about, something that will do the community good, and do it. Here's how the most eloquent among those we interviewed put it:

We can demand accountability of our legislators and tell them to grow a pair and champion our children's interest over the gun lobby or we'll choose someone who will.   As our experts pointed out, the entertainment industry, with its penchant for gratuitous violence aimed at boys and young men, can be held accountable by the American public.  Let's use our imagination to figure out how we can enjoy beauty and goodness as much as we do blood and gore.  Let's figure out how to make sex sweet, safe, and real and how to reclaim it from the predatory sex industry.  Let's animate and film entertainment for our children that's fun, but doesn't involve all the violence for laughs, shock and awe.  

We can organize community resources so we have things to do together - places to dance, sing, drum together, whether we're single, a couple or a family.  I know a lot of people will point to their church and say, we've got all that right here in our faith community.  With all due respect, if Westboro Baptist Church or Mike Huckabee is what comes with church suppers and socializing around bible studies, I think we need alternatives.  Let's create community centers that aren't focused on creed, but on bringing diverse groups together for the good of all.

One big move at home would be to turn off TVs, computers and other wired devices long enough to be present with the people we love.  Be inventive, find other things to do together - games, word puzzles, story telling contests, nature adventures and walks.

I'd like to suggest that, especially in the evenings, instead of watching TV, a family can play with dreams the way we do in Active Dreaming: creating theater from dreams, writing stories and reading them to each other from dream themes or making up a story from just the title and first line of a dream, each person taking turns adding a line. Pull out the art supplies and draw or paint from dreams, share the pics and talk about them, hang them on the refrigerator. With stories and pictures, we can practice resolving dream conflicts or fears in creative ways.  Always, we respect the dreamer as the only owner and authority of his or her dream, no matter her or his age. 

It is possible to dismantle this culture of violence, if we want to. We can dream a culture we want to bequeath our children for many generations to come and we can set about creating it right now.


  1. This is a heartfelt and articulate essay in response to the Newtown massacre. Moreover, it gives practical suggestions for individuals and families to work together to reduce the disordered thinking that underlies gun violence. Thank you, Adelita, for your inspiring words!

  2. This is a wonderful and insightful post. I love your take take, as always, on dreaming a better world. If Sandy Hook doesn't prove to be a tipping point, I don't know what it will take.

    1. We all gain weight and sit on one side of the boat?:-)

  3. Prospero ano nuevo, amiga! I can't figure out how to do a spanish n on this keyboard!

  4. Funny - the word verification was: I am seer.

  5. Igual, a ti, Trish. I have the same problem, there must be a way.

  6. Gaining weight now, left's sit on the left side of the boat, so ur right brains are affected??

  7. Good idea; we are talking about metaphorical weight, of course:-)