What hap­pened to peace and love in Amer­ica?

South Florida Times - - OPINION -

When a White man mur­ders 58 peo­ple, and in­jures an­other 527 in Amer­ica, he is not con­sid­ered a ter­ror­ist. Maybe a ter­ror­ist must have a dif­fer­ent skin color, or maybe an Is­lamic name, but he surely can­not be white with a Euro­pean name.

As the in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ues, peo­ple are won­der­ing, how this could hap­pen in the land of the free? But, there are over 300 mil­lion guns owned by Amer­i­cans. When a cit­i­zen can own 47 guns, and no one asks any ques­tions as to why he needed so many guns, some­thing is wrong. All over Amer­ica, there are or­ga­ni­za­tions and in­di­vid­u­als that own an ar­se­nal of fire power, and no one is ask­ing ques­tions. As long as Amer­i­cans can have their money, guns, a Bi­ble, their sec­ond amend­ment rights, and the National Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion (NRA), things are good.

It re­ally does not mat­ter if there is a mass shoot­ing ev­ery day in Amer­ica be­cause this is con­sid­ered nor­mal, and no one is sup­posed to say any­thing. It has al­ready been es­tab­lished that the shooter, Stephen Pad­dock. had a “his­tory of psy­cho­log­i­cal prob­lems.” As more adult Amer­i­cans buy guns, soon our chil­dren will also own guns, and set­tle dis­putes by who has the big­gest gun. In cer­tain in­ner city schools, the metal de­tec­tors are not able to de­tach all the guns com­ing into schools, and some­one is shot ev­ery­day around the coun­try.

If a gun is not brought into the school, it can be hid­den near the school and ac­ces­si­ble to the stu­dent once they are dis­missed. In 2017, gun vi­o­lence and gun pur­chases are as­so­ci­ated with men­tal sick­ness, and mil­lions of Amer­i­cans don’t feel fully dressed with­out their guns.

This sick­ness is man­i­fested in the mass mar­ket­ing of guns. Ev­ery­where you look on the in­ter­net, guns are be­ing sold, and very few ques­tions are asked about the age and men­tal com­pe­tency of the buyer.

Even though he was in Las Ve­gas and there was re­ally no en­emy, he was pre­par­ing to end the lives of many Amer­i­cans, and his own life, but again, he’s not con­sid­ered a ter­ror­ist. So the FBI and other po­lice or­ga­ni­za­tions will spend the next months look­ing for a mo­tive, but in­san­ity can be dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand.

The same Amer­i­cans who tell us that our found­ing fa­thers give us the right to bear arms are also psy­cho­log­i­cally un­sta­ble, and at any time can snap and com­mit mass mur­ders.

As men­tal health is­sues im­pact mil­lions of Amer­i­cans, peo­ple are hurt­ing, and they have no place to dis­cuss their prob­lems. Men­tal health storms are rag­ing in ev­ery cor­ner of ev­ery com­mu­nity, and many are trav­el­ing on the road to hate.

It is easy to blame Mus­lims and so-called ter­ror­ists, but very few Amer­i­cans are re­ally ob­serv­ing their crazy neigh­bor, Joe, who hates ev­ery­thing and ev­ery­one. Crazy Joe gets drunk the en­tire week­end, and goes out shoot­ing his 10 guns at the gun range.

Peace and love are two pow­er­ful words that are not dis­cussed in Amer­ica be­cause our lead­ers are fix­ated on war. Amer­i­cans are hurt­ing, and the path to hate will never pro­duce love and peace.

Amer­ica is con­sumed with too much vi­o­lence, and the need to buy more guns. Many of us live in fear. What hap­pened to love and peace in 2017?

As com­mu­ni­ties across the na­tion grap­ple with an in­flam­ma­tory racial and po­lit­i­cal cli­mate, there is an in­creased need for spa­ces where peo­ple can find com­mon ground through shared ex­pe­ri­ences and open di­a­logue. That’s a main driver be­hind The Mi­ami Foun­da­tion’s My Mi­ami Story con­ver­sa­tions, an ef­fort to get thou­sands of Mi­amiDade County res­i­dents to sit down with each other on Tues­day, Oc­to­ber 17, over a meal, snack or cof­fee, and share their per­sonal sto­ries about life in the county. By un­der­stand­ing how we each came to this com­mu­nity, why we stay here, what we value about it and how we can make it bet­ter, we un­cover the com­mon nar­ra­tive about what mat­ters to us as Mi­ami­ans and con­nect around so­lu­tions that en­hance life in Greater Mi­ami.

Javier Al­berto Soto, pres­i­dent and CEO of The Mi­ami Foun­da­tion, in­di­cated that My Mi­ami Story con­ver­sa­tions are about dis­cov­er­ing how our con­nec­tions to this com­mu­nity ac­tu­ally unite us as res­i­dents within it. It’s an im­por­tant step to in­creas­ing our un­der­stand­ing of each other and help­ing ev­ery Mi­amian take own­er­ship of im­prov­ing qual­ity of life here.

Now in its sec­ond year, My Mi­ami Story is a com­mu­nity en­gage­ment ini­tia­tive driven by The Mi­ami Foun­da­tion with ad­di­tional sup­port from the John S. and James L. Knight Foun­da­tion. In 2016, close to 2,000 Mi­ami­ans par­tic­i­pated in the in­au­gu­ral My Mi­ami Story con­ver­sa­tions. More than 160 res­i­dents and or­ga­ni­za­tions signed up to host 6 to 12 peo­ple in homes, restau­rants, class­rooms, of­fices and out­side in neigh­bor­hood parks. Dis­cus­sions ranged from lo­cal tran­sit to hous­ing af­ford­abil­ity, the need for more equity across Mi­ami-Dade and other is­sues in the 2016 Our Mi­ami Re­port. A post-sur­vey dis­trib­uted to par­tic­i­pants found that more than half spoke with peo­ple they didn’t al­ready know and many of them ex­changed con­tact in­for­ma­tion. About a quar­ter made spe­cific plans to work with each other on civic ef­forts. Par­tic­i­pants also found the dis­cus­sions clar­i­fy­ing with a ma­jor­ity say­ing they bet­ter un­der­stood com­mu­nity is­sues

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