A Time For National Introspection

I sat down last weekend to write this week’s post and I had a topic in mind. For some reason, I really struggled with writing it. The words just didn’t come freely.

When did devastating violence become routine?

Ask any writer and he will tell you that sometimes you have to fight tooth and nail for every word and writing feels like an insurmountable task. And yet, other times, the words flow like a raging river and your fingers just can’t keep up.

This was not one of those easy weeks, and I held off sending in my post because I just wasn’t happy with it. Then the Boston Marathon bombing happened, and part of me believes there was a reason that post was so difficult to write; its time to be told had not yet come.



Why do people hurt innocent people? What do they gain by doing so? Why have we seen so many acts of violence committed recently? What can we do to make it stop? Will we ever find any answers? Will we ever truly know peace?

These are just a few of the many questions that have been swimming around in my head the last couple of days. I don’t have any answers. I don’t know if we will ever get any answers, either.

Sometimes I wonder if the violence will ever stop.

After the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut last December, there was a nationwide outcry, and rightly so, to try to stop these senseless killings from happening over and over again.

In the months that followed, the political debates around gun control and background checks have raged as angry Americans demand change. I don’t think it matters what side of the gun debate you are on, and that’s not what this post is about; I think we can all agree that the tools these killers use are not the problem.

The problem is something much larger.

It seems to me that over the last 50 to 60 years, something within our culture has eroded to the point where it now is possible for tragedies like this to happen every few months. And with each senseless tragedy our tolerance for violence grows just a little more.

It makes me sick to think that not only are these tragedies happening more and more frequently, but that we, as a society, are unable to prevent them.

To me, the debate isn’t about background checks for people who want to buy firearms, nor is it about the number of rounds of ammunition a magazine can hold and still be legal to purchase. I don’t think that passing new laws will ever stop these senseless killings. What would compel someone who is intent on harming others to obey these laws in the first place?

First, I think we are asking the wrong questions. Second, I think we are trying to solve a larger problem by addressing symptoms of the problem and not the problem itself.

I think that first and foremost, we need to re-evaluate our morals as a country and ask ourselves what it is we hold most dear.

When I recall the stories my parents and grandparents told about their childhoods, I do not remember ever once hearing them express fear about an act of terrorism. Unfortunately, for today’s children, this fear is a reality.

I fear that there has become a huge disconnect between the morals of our parents’ and grandparents’ generations and the morals of our children today. And for that, with whom or what, do we place the blame?

There are so many things in our world that are so vastly different than they were 20 to 30 or even 50 years ago,; it is no wonder our children have to deal with things that were unfathomable to us when we were their ages.

I do not know what we need to do to realign this country’s moral compass in order to make things as safe and good as they once were. I do not know how we bring an end to the violence and tragedy that we seem to read more and more about on a more frequent basis.

I do think that the change we seek can one day be obtained. I believe it will take an immeasurable amount of work to get there, but I believe it can be done.

I think we must honor the victims of these senseless tragedies by keeping their memory alive and not becoming complacent to the escalating violence that seems to plague our country. But that is just the first step.

I believe that to obtain the change we seek, we must begin by looking within ourselves and making changes in each of our lives that will better our community. As I said before, I don’t have all of the answers. I think we have a tough road ahead of us, but I do believe that together we can make difference.

What will you do to keep their memory alive and make your community a better place in the weeks that lie ahead?

Boyd Coleman is a landscape architect in Phoenix, Arizona. He can be reached on twitter at @CDGLA or email: bcoleman001@gmail.com