Who wasn’t shocked and disheartened by yet another tragic mass shooting, this time in Aurora, Colo.?
Like millions of Americans, my wife, Gena, and I send our heartfelt condolences and prayers to the victims of this murderous spree and their families.
We, too, commend the heroes who gave their lives to save others. Truly, every victim of this reprehensible executioner is in some way heroic, for the victims were injured or died in the midst of a culture war in which even our theaters and schools have become battlegrounds.
Moreover, we salute and support the Colorado peace officers, emergency medical and relief personnel, bomb squads, counselors, crises management workers, etc. — all of whom care for violent crime victims and rally to reduce the increasing tides of illegal conduct and misguided behavior, just as their colleagues across our country do.
As Americans, we are all concerned with figuring out what we can do about the increase in violent crime. Marisa Randazzo, a psychologist who contributed to an extensive study of school shootings for the Secret Service, said, “The intensity and frequency of the attacks have increased since the events at Columbine.”
So how can we continue to help reduce and prevent violent crime in our communities?
First, as with most societies’ ills, the key to curbing crime is not more government expansion and spending. Nor is the answer dissolving our Second Amendment rights; countries with super-strict gun ownership laws have equally violent crimes and also proved that taking guns from good guys doesn’t prohibit bad guys from obtaining them. Our Founding Fathers had a far better solution than more government and taking away guns from law-abiding citizens.
Though our founders initiated our government, they didn’t expect it or the law of the land to establish and maintain civility. As proud as they were of their newfound republic, they would turn to and trust in God and “We the People” to usher in life, liberty, happiness, decency, respect, morality, honesty and restraint, to name a few.
George Washington warned us in his Farewell Address about a time in America’s future in which we might be tempted to discard the pillars of civility: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
Curbing violent crime is still more about what we do than it is about what government does. The answer is still more about nature’s law within us than it is about man’s law outside of us.
We must return to being a nation in which mutual respect is king — in which I am my brother’s keeper and we agree to disagree agreeably. It’s time to renew our commitment to the basic premise of humanity: Do unto others as you would have them do to you, and love your neighbor as you love yourself.
In today’s world, each American also must be vigilant against crime. We must have zero tolerance for our volatility to violence. We must come together as community leaders to brainstorm solutions rather than expect our politicians in Washington to come up with the answers. We must be equally willing to reach out to those lost souls who feel marginalized and disenfranchised by the world around them. We also must reconsider the power of our own models on our families and realize that our children likely will model our treatment of others.
Beyond enhancing these internal and inherent qualities, we need to come together as individuals, families, community groups, schools, churches and local law enforcement to strategize and communicate, educate community residents about victims’ rights, enhance public awareness about what we all can do to increase our survival in the midst of fatal crimes, make plans to offer victims assistance (via intervention, food closets, temporary shelter, mental health counseling, legal help and other emergency services), track violent offenders, further crack down on family violence violations, ensure additional necessary securities and network through the Internet with other help agencies.
I might play a tough guy who protects victims from bad guys on-screen, but in real life I’m also an advocate for those who are at risk, particularly through our KickStart Kids foundation. Gena and I consider KickStart Kids our lives’ mission. KickStart Kids means building strong moral character in our youth through the martial arts. Its purpose is to help raise self-esteem and instill discipline and respect, which so many children are lacking today.
Two other warriors who are raising the bar of societal and youth decency are our dear friends Darrell and Sandy Scott, who spearheaded Rachel’s Challenge in memory of their beautiful and kind daughter, Rachel, who was murdered at Columbine High School in 1999. Rachel said, “I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion, then it will start a chain reaction of the same.” KickStart Kids and Rachel’s Challenge recently partnered to further help American youth and families.
Lastly, regarding the victims of the Aurora shooting, let us remember this promise in the Bible: “What others mean for harm, God will turn around and use for the good.” The Bible also says that “God is near to the brokenhearted.”
May God’s nearness be a comfort to the Colorado victims and their families.