Breaking the Cycle

Written by Founder and CEO, Sara Potler LaHayne

Yesterday it happened again.

There’s been, yet another, school shooting.

What kinds of statistics do we need to see? How many shootings have we witnessed since Sandy Hook? How many children’s lives have been tragically cut short? How many teachers have sacrificed their own in order to protect their students?

There have been 18 school shootings this year.

There have been, roughly, 28 school days.

By now we know the script. We will pray for the victims. We will argue with one another about gun control. We will stay mad until the next news cycle brings along headlines of nuclear weapons, climate change, a government shutdown or the latest sexual harassment scandal. And then, most of us will likely move on.

But what does all of that tell you? How can we allow ourselves to move on and continue to lose innocent lives? This is the warning sign of what we are missing.

Regardless of varying perspectives, at the end of the day, laws will only prevent so much from happening. It is empathy and compassion that will carry us so much further.

We had similar reflections, in the wake of the mass shooting at Fort Lauderdale Airport, just over a year ago:

The fact is, most people overlook triggers, stress points, and often physical pain, just to make it through the day–even those who haven’t experienced the hellish violence of war. 70 percent of Americans take some form of prescription drugs, most commonly for anxiety, depression, and pain (as well as diabetes and heart disease).

Like the shooting, it’s actually not difficult to identify the problem, but providing a real, long-term solution? That’s much tougher. It is easier to take a pill or to blame ISIS than to really dig deep, which calls for self-reflection, dedication, and vulnerability.

This is still true today.

When are we going to break the cycle of violence? When are we going to replace apathy with empathy? When are we going to slow down and realize the problem is not the system, but how the system divides us? When are we going to take responsibility for our role in a system that continues to fail our children?

We will continue to issue calls to come together because we know it is the preventative measure that matters most. Mental health does not occur in a vacuum. Warning signs are often present. As long as we continue to ignore them, we will continue to suffer.

We cannot live in a country where parents fear sending their children off to school, the place where students spend more awake hours than at home. We cannot live in a world where we warn our kindergarteners of students at school with guns, and protecting teachers looks like metal detectors and safety vests instead of tools for empathy and understanding.

It’s time to end our suffering. It’s time to talk about our problems. It’s time to support one another. It’s time to listen, reflect, and love. Especially in schools, where we hope to be growing the next generation of discerning, empathetic, empowered leaders.


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