By Dr. Stewart Bitkoff
Initially I wrote this piece in 2013 (after a mass shooting in Arizona) and offer it again as a beginning solution to the world’s problems. Gun control and gun violence is one aspect of the larger problem. The larger problem: Is how to make better people?
Better people make a better world and collectively, we must work on this together. Solutions are possible and may take a long, long time; but it is time for more action and movement forward. I hope you enjoy this piece and share it with others. Perhaps, then, we can continue our conversation about how to accomplish this goal.
Better People- Better World
The book of your life
Is filled with many blank pages.
You are free
To write on them
Whatever you choose.
As you start reading, a word of caution. I have an ‘axe to grind’ and am going to offer solutions and say things that you may not like. Perhaps this will get you so angry that you will focus your anger on taking one positive action toward solving our collective problems; perhaps today you will further use your own abilities to make your community/world just a little better.
The only solution to stopping and preventing tragedies like we have just seen, again, in Orlando is to create better people who are able to work and live in their community- helping each other. Let me say this again- the only solution to preventing tragedy after tragedy- like the one in Orlando, Florida is to collectively work toward creating better people. By this, I mean people who know who they are physically, mentally and spiritually; have enough to eat; feel part of their community; and work toward the greater good.
- Collectively we need to focus on the individual and have all our systems- educational, religious, governmental- working toward creating structures and an environment that supports individual freedom, and helps young people grow into healthy adults; a healthy adult is someone who knows how to balance their own personal need with the needs of others.
- Second we need a society that demands personal responsibility in making the world and community better. Everyone needs to help each other realize that we are inter-dependent. It matters what my neighbor does and if they are hungry/sick. Daily it matters what I personally do.
Look as a society we have sent people to the moon; sent robotic droids and I believe people down to the bottom of the deepest ocean. Don’t tell me we cannot solve problems that are highly complex and seemingly impossible. The reason problems aren’t solved: is either collectively we see no solution (give-up), believing a solution not possible or just don’t focus our energy/resources on solving the problems.
Here’s a couple of things to think about, and will help make my point a little clearer.
- Yearly why are we still selling and making more guns? How come they are not controlled as a deadly substance? Why don’t you have to take a psychological test before buying and owning a gun? We have to pass a driving test- before we are allowed to drive. Seems to me a gun is a lethal weapon just like a car, when not properly driven.
- Screening for Problems. When I was young, in order for me to go to school I had to have certain vaccines to protect me and my class mates. Also I had an eye and hearing test to help me function at my highest level. How come there is no universal screening of all children for emotional problems (depression, excessive violence, alienation and loneliness) and reasonable treatment options which are required.
- Violent Video Games/Negative News Coverage. We are conscious beings and it matters what we put into our minds. If I spend all day playing violent video games and/or watching ‘slanted news coverage;’ my mind will formulate a specific vision of a negative world. Personally I am sick and tired of watching News Shows that report one bad event after another; having one joyful, human interest story at the end of the show. Stop playing to my lower excitement need.
- Self-Serving Corporations/Governments. Our society is a real mess right now and we need people to run things; who are equally concerned about themselves and others. Right now, there are too many takers running things who want to keep the same old confusion thing going. Using false information, calling names and taking rather than giving. Where have all the ‘good guys’ gone? Have we shot them all?
- Lobbying By Rich Interest Groups. By now, why haven’t we done away with lobbying, and raising money for political parties? Give each candidate the same amount of money/air time to run their election; put a cap on how much can be spent. Also political advertisements must be civil and stop pointing out opponents alleged failure; discussion should be positive about what each candidate can do and their capacity to solve problems.
In my view, there are at least 2 levels of responsibility; there is the personal level, what can I do to make my day and my world just a little better. Who can I help rather than take from today? You know I can refuse to watch the news or suggest that my grandchildren have limited use of violent video games. I can contribute or work/volunteer for an organization that is helping the disadvantaged. I can insist- March on Washington– that lobbying be discontinued; that elected officials have limited terms and the election process do away with ‘negative campaigning and war chest funding.’
The second level when solving a problem, people have to sometimes compromise and are committed to working together to do what is best for themselves and others. It is clear, as a society we haven’t gotten there yet; most ‘powerful people’ want to keep things going- status quo- so they don’t loose their advantage. One way to do this is with a ‘smoke screen;’ diverting away from the real solution. Let’s see what solutions are proposed to prevent mass murder by a future deranged gun men; more security, blame the failure on family/school system, set-up a Task Force to study for years and recommend actions that will be argued about.
Yes, I realize many people want things to get better and are working toward this goal ; however it doesn’t hurt to further urge every one to take personal responsibility to make their world just a little better. You know, treat my neighbor as a member of my own family. All of these individual actions do add-up.
Also each person can insist that elected officials and corporate officers do what is right. How do you do this? By taking positive action and insisting that collectively- we take as priority number one: raising the quality of our personal lives and the quality of our collective community life.
Come on, give it some thought . . . Then take an action. Remember it can be as simple as calling a sick relative or writing a letter to your local elected official telling them what a good or bad job they are doing. Perhaps sending this article to a friend or corporate officer?
Look there are many people out there who really don’t want to solve problems like what just took place in Orlando. How do I know this? Because we have had enough of these events and there has not been collective action to do so.
Make better people. Start with myself. Support action that is correct and not tied to personal greed.
Some people will offer, give me a break here . . . “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.”
Precisely so how about some action to limit the amount of guns available/being made; some reasonable screening, psychological testing before purchase and with continued ownership. I hear in selected communities, now senior citizens are required to be re-examined or tested to continue driving- to make sure they are safe drivers; how about the same thing with gun permits and ownership. Or how about treating guns as a controlled substance?
Look, I probably don’t have the best solution to all these problems, but it is time for action, and collectively we can reach the best solutions. First we begin by defining the problem. Our problem, first, as a society we need to develop more people who use all of their abilities to make themselves and our world better. Second, we all work together for the common good.
Self-interest is killing this country. Remember some people don’t want to solve the many problems; when there is chaos- they can keep their own scheme going.
How come selected drugs haven’t been made legal? Openly, at a certain age, we buy liquor and cigarettes?
Look the solution to this problem: raising citizens who don’t abuse these substances, and fill that empty place inside with joyful, healthy pursuits. How come there is no community discussion on how to raise people who reach for the full life both for them selves and others.
Remember, development of good, honest people is not just the responsibility of family and religion; it is mine and your responsibility as well.
The canvas is the world.
You are the artist.
Pick-up the brush;
Create your own life.