Northern Illinois Bahá'ís

After Newtown

Location

Northern Illinois USA Glen Ellyn, IL

In the aftermath of Newtown it can be frustrating when looking at the news.  And I'm sure my $.02 worth is not going to make that much difference, but we, as a nation need to make some difficult changes in order to do something about what is truly going on in a society where such carnage is becoming more and more commonplace.

When I turn on the news the most popular action that is focused on after the Newtown tragedy is the attempt to have legislation passed on gun control.  I will agree that the proliferation of guns does have a bearing on gun violence, but the same can be said for automobiles and vehicular homicide.  Personally I do not own a firearm (but I will admit to owning a pump air rifle), which is my own personal choice. I know there are hunters out there who use their firearms as they were meant to be used, and there are people who own firearms for personal protection. But when it comes down to it, where there is a will, there is a way, and when someone is determined to cause harm to others, they will make the effort to make it happen. After all, the firearms used in the Newtown tragedy were legally acquired and licensed by the perpetrator’s mother (who was the first victim).

Besides the gun factor, another aspect that needs to be addressed, though there has been a bit more “talk” about it, is the state of our mental health system (or the lack of it).  My wife and I have a daughter who is paranoid schizophrenic and is mentally challenged. Our introduction to the mental health system here in Illinois is that you are basically on your own until the individual becomes violent. Also, with the lack of resources that the government is having to deal with, one of the first things that gets cut is assistance to the mentally ill. On top of that the treatment of those with mental/emotional difficulties can be hit-or-miss at best so there are a great many people who are not getting the care and assistance they need.

This is a complex problem with many contributing factors. In a discussion with friends today a viable solution to the problem came up.  The real problem is society’s lack of spiritual focus.  Society, especially American society is anti-spiritual. We pride ourselves as being a non-religious nation though our motto is “In God We Trust. The ills of society continue to increase as we look at what is valued over what needs to be valued.  The disparity between rich and poor has increased drastically while the middle class is becoming an endangered species as many people have had to deal with the ramifications of the greed driven policies and “maneuverings” of those in positions of power.   

As the rich man enjoys his life surrounded by ease and luxuries, so the poor man must likewise have a home and be provided with sustenance and comforts commensurate with his needs. This readjustment of the social economic is of the greatest importance inasmuch as it insures the stability of the world of humanity; and until it is effected, happiness and prosperity are impossible.
                (Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 240)

Society needs to make a change, and since we make up society this means that “we” need to make changes, changes in how we see each other. We have to bring “God” and spirituality back into our lives. We need to live as we were created to live, with peace and love, being our brother’s keeper, working to bring God’s Kingdom to Earth.  Instead of seeing our neighbor as the enemy, we need to see him as a fellow human being, deserving of our love, our respect, working for the good for all of us. 

We are at our best when we work together.

It is incumbent upon thee to summon the people, under all conditions, to whatever will cause them to show forth spiritual characteristics and goodly deeds, so that all may become aware of that which is the cause of human upliftment, and may, with the utmost endeavor, direct themselves towards the most sublime Station and the Pinnacle of Glory.
                (Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 27)

(Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/dougtone/. Some rights reserved.)