20 Feb

The outrage in the media over gun control and protective mental health to keep our children safe has affected us all. Schools now prepare by having practice drills to protect our children from shooters. We hope and pray the minute our children leave for school that God will watch over them. Today, we’ve learned to pray more. We have to.



As parents, we try our best to put ourselves in the places of those parents who’ve lost a dear child to this unspeakable madness. We just can’t wrap our minds around their loss, pain, suffering, and sorrow that they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives, which we now share. And as parents, we must all together ask God for a solution. The possibility of gun control and keeping our schools safe are great goals but until now, these goals haven’t been reached. But in addition to trying to reach those goals, we must also ask ourselves how those children became shooters. We need to ask ourselves where we might have been insensitive to their falling into mental illness and how we might help prevent this from ever happening again.



I’ve read that most of the shooters had a history of mental health problems. And I ask myself these questions: How were they cut off from the wisdom of their hearts? Were they never taught the love of God? Or were they never shown the love or the protection of their family or another caring adult, such as a teacher or coach? When did they begin to disconnect from other people and isolate themselves? And how might we change this pattern, knowing how lost we all are and how impossible it is for any of us to cope for very long without love.



I say to all adults: Please stop for a minute and think about how broken you would feel over the loss of someone who once protected you without someone else quickly stepping in to replace their love or concern for you! Having to live with that level of anxiety for only 24 hours might feel like an eternity unless someone opens their heart to you. This kind of emptiness touches us all at one time or another, and I still feel it myself even in my late 60s. Think of what this might do for a mentally ill young person. Multiply your 24 hours of emptiness and anxiety by the shooter’s years of absence of connection, of protection, and what this absence of love might do to any one of us, what it might make any of us do or become.



We too have the responsibility to make our children feel safe and protected by our daily dose of love and concern for them without measure. Unconditionally. Especially if there is any kind of mental illness or imbalance. Sadly, most people with mental health problems and even drug addiction are not given the empathy, protection, or support while they’re healing, things to help make them stronger, to help them cope, unlike those suffering from cancer or any other physical disease. Maybe the place to start, to help those with mental illness is to give them more love and deeper connection with others. If we can begin to do that as a society, AND meet the other goals of sensible gun laws that nearly everyone in this country wants and demands, then we will really accomplish something significant.



As Leo Buscaglia said, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”





About the Author

Written by Catherine Nagle

Catherine grew up in Philadelphia with 16 brothers and sisters, reared by loving, old-school Italian parents. Catherine's artist father's works graced churches and public buildings; her mother was a full-time homemaker. A professional hairdresser, Catherine worked in various salons while studying the Bible and pursuing spiritual growth through courses, seminars, lectures, works of Marianne Williamson, and conferences, including the National Theology of the Body Congress. She is also an Ambassador of the Society of Emotional Intelligence. The mother of two children and now a grandmother, Catherine lives in Pennsylvania with her husband. She is the Author of Imprinted Wisdom, Absence and Presence, Amelia, and a contributor to Anne Born’s These Winter Months: The Late Orphan Project Anthology.

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