There’s a new post-Newtown mentality – a consensus that our country is troubled – but varied viewpoints as to what “the answer” might be. As a two-time survivor of violence, a licensed psychotherapist and someone who has effected positive change in the past (spearheading a movement to eradicate Joe Camel, for instance) I have some thoughts as to what we need to do.
1. Be aware. A local movie theater manager recently said to me “Thank you for heightening my awareness. I used to walk past that video game (Time Crisis) as if it was furniture. There’s no place for it in our theater. ” An executive of a major toy retail chain recently told me he was unaware that Grand Theft Auto is featured in a display entitled”Best of the Best” at the eye level of a 4 year old. He said he’d get back to me later this week about changing it. We discussed the possibility of a special section specifying “Gun-Related Violent Videos” so that people who really want (!?) that for their children and grandchildren know what they’re getting and don’t buy it by mistake. This may not be enough for some, but it’s a start and we need to build on areas of consensus.
2. Realize these tragedies are “multi-determined” (a popular word at Columbia when I trained). Kids are gettingguns too easily (I was held hostage by two teenagers – one with an assault weapon and the other with a pistol); our society is too stressful with too little available mental health help; parenting’s de-prioritized and de-glorified so that parents either cannot or do not give their children the attention they need; the list goes on and on. We all need to search for solutions, exploring and embracing multiple answers for society’s ills.
3. Reach out to each other. Deborah Tanner, Ph.D., the noted linguist, wrote in “The Argument Culture” of our lost ability to listen – especially important now because true discussion and debate leads to learning. In Congress, academia, and social settings, it’s time for questioning the status quo in a creative way, pulling in those of different minds and respecting what we all have to offer.
The Post-Newtown mentality must include more sensitivity and respect for the varied viewpoints of each other. Only then can we move forward to find some meaning in this tragic loss.
All my best,
Arlene B. Englander, LCSW,MBA,PA
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