THINKING DIFFERENTLY ABOUT A NATIONAL CALAMITY

 

calamity

We have two more unfortunate data points from which to become motivated for change. You already know the names of the cities.

Yet, what seems to happen as in each incident of previous tragedy, the solutions proposed by various factions or anyone with an opinion become the battleground for disagreement – and therefore inaction.

Two more cities are now in the temporary cross hairs of national attention. Dozens of families with an equal number of funerals, all suffering in their grief of what could have been; the lost potential of what the world would have gained collectively through their lives of the victims well lived.

And here we are. News outlets globally cover the story. The President makes a rare appearance before a national audience and his critics disassemble his comments immediately upon the conclusion of the speech. Calls for amendments to be changed – or not. The breakdown of the nuclear family, an indictment on our nation’s handling of those struggling with mental health issues and even a question about the role violence in the media and in video games receives some blame.

Yet no progress is gained. If we don’t act when more than a dozen children are innocently taken at a school, will we really act as a nation on the latest events? I am not optimistic.

I propose we – “we” means all of us with thoughts on solutions to the problem – hold our solutions with loose grips for a moment and attempt to agree on a couple of simple, basic observations:

  1. This is a really complicated problem that we have yet to positively impact
  2. Complicated problems typically don’t have simple (or single) solutions
  3. We don’t listen to others ideas well when we don’t agree

It seems to me this is a battle that must be fought and won on many fronts. When I have worked with leadership teams in business to help them uncover potential solutions for a problem, many times we have to dig hard to reveal the “root cause” of the situation. When this is done successfully, it opens the door to solution paths that we may never have considered. And some of those solutions may not be obvious or self evident.

A read of one of Malcolm Gladwell’s books would demonstrate, in the rear view mirror, how circumstances converge to create an outcome that may not have been clear from the start.

I think some of the “inputs” that should be considered while excavating for root causes in these tragedies could be:

  • The impact bullying has on youth
  • How we treat (or don’t) those suffering with mental health issues. I know from first-hand experience in my chaplaincy work, that homeless shelters and incarceration are the two primary destinations – and this is not effective
  • What should be done with automatic weapons and accessories, or access to them
  • Glorification of violence as entertainment or perhaps through video games
  • Internet as a tool for propagation of hate or lifting up those who do so
  • Racism – a big topic – one upon which we must continue to battle

I do not suggest a weighting so far as the impact each of these inputs has on the problem, nor do I suggest these are all the inputs. What I am suggesting is that we urge those who serve in our government – state, local or national – to be willing to enter in a serious discussion about each input, dig for the root issue, then formulate an action plan that would be comprehensive, moving us forward in perhaps an ever so small way towards affecting each input in a positive manner.

This is a big problem. This is a complex problem. Complex problems need comprehensive solutions. Complex problems need creative and perhaps risky solutions. Attacking this on multiple fronts improves the likelihood of having a positive impact.

And compromise is a must.

 

 

[image credit: cana cope gdl dot com]