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Community & Behavioral Health | Recovery | Social Change


Changing the Conversation

Too Much Hatred, Too Much Violence

10/3/17 11:01 AM | Jeff Olivet | Social Justice, Violence

Candle in hand.jpg

It is with great sadness, and with great anger, that I write a few brief words about the tragic shooting Sunday night in Las Vegas. At least 59 people have been reported dead and more than 500 injured, making it the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

We should all hold the victims and their loved ones in our thoughts, in our hearts, in our minds, in our prayers, in our silence...not just today, but in the days ahead and in the years ahead. We should hold alongside them all victims of past shootings--Pulse Nightclub, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Mother Emanuel Church, and all the others. Long after these events leave the front page of the nation's papers and the crawlers across the bottom of the TV screens, family and friends of those dead continue to mourn. The accumulation of pain and loss is staggering.It is a time for sadness and for mourning, not just for the loss of life and the suffering inflicted on so many, but also for the state of our nation. Hatred and violence have become normalized, even sanctioned by those in power. Easy access to deadly assault weapons has provided a way for that hatred to result in mass murder.

Yes, this is a time for sadness. But it is also a time for anger. It is morally reprehensible that our laws value gun ownership over human life. We submit to hundreds of other checks on our individual freedoms--from taking off our shoes at the airport to speed limits on the highway--yet gun ownership is held sacrosanct. And the problem is not just that gun ownership is prized. It is the notion that civilians should have unfettered access to military weapons that have been designed for one and only one purpose: to take the life of another human being. Such public policy is no policy at all, but instead the lack of courageous leadership to do what it takes to keep the people of this country safe.

I hear many say that these laws will never change. I refuse to believe it. They were crafted by people and can be changed by people.

It is certainly a time to mourn, and it is a time to speak out, yet again, for gun control. It is also a time to recommit ourselves to love and kindness--the only forces powerful enough to overcome hatred and violence.

Image by Lucia Sanchez (CC by 2.0).

Jeff Olivet

Written by Jeff Olivet

Jeff Olivet is the CEO at the Center for Social Innovation. He is a national leader on homelessness, poverty, affordable housing, behavioral health, public health, and HIV. He has been a street outreach worker, case manager, housing director, coalition builder, writer, teacher, and activist. Jeff is a recognized expert in bringing innovative technologies and solutions to complex social problems.