Dr. Ducharme’s Blog March 18, 2019 Responding to Yet Another Mass Murder

March 18, 2019
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When I was a kid, there were times I got mad at or disagreed with people. I might have sulked, complained to someone or been irritable. But, never, ever would the thought of hurting, let alone killing someone I didn’t agree with have entered my mind. And yet, today, in the United States, the numbers of mass shootings  continues to rise. Some reports indicate that in the United States there is one mass shooting every 64 days.

We must also consider the world stage. Mass shootings around the world are also increasing. Last week at least 49 people were killed and 20 more seriously injured in a hate-filled terror attack targeting two mosques in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand. The shooter, a 28 year old Australian apparently wrote a manifesto filled with anti-immigrant, anti-muslim ideas. I personally am heartbroken for all those who have suffered during this and so many other senseless murders.

As a psychologist, I want to be able to help people understand what is happening and why. I have some ideas. However, I have no explanation for why we, as a human race, are so intolerant of each other. Why do people feel they have the right to eliminate whatever they don’t like? I truly have no idea. There is so much we can learn from each other, if only we would really listen to one another. Even if we disagree on many issues, are there not even more where we can find common ground. Whether it is in our own city, state country or world we must learn to work together. We all want to be be able to keep ourselves and our families safe. Our basic needs are more alike than not.

Obviously I cannot solve this problem alone. I can only control my own behaviors. There is a concept in Judaism called Tikkun olam. It means repair of the world. Essentially it encourages all Jews to behave and act constructively and beneficially. The concept has expanded to mean that Jews bear responsibility not only for their own moral, spiritual and material welfare, but also for the welfare of society at large.

I like this concept. To me, it means that my behaviors can clearly affect the lives of others. Daily, I need to strive to make this world a little better place because I was here. What would happen if every person simply tried to perform an act of kindness each day?  It doesn’t have to be huge or cost a lot of or any money. What if each day we recognized that we had a choice about how we treated our families, friends and even total strangers? Perhaps we could change the world and make it a better and safer place.

During this time when many feel powerless to stop the violence around them, here are a few ideas that may make you feel good but will also make the world a better place.

Volunteer somewhere. There are so many organizations that could use your help. Driving cancer patients to chemotherapy, working at a food kitchen, putting on some hours at an animal shelter or visiting the elderly in nursing homes are only a few ideas. Donate blood to the Red Cross.

Teach your children the benefits of getting to know people of other religions and cultures.

Remind your college age students that part of the reason they go to college is to learn about new ideas and get to know people from other cultures and with other beliefs.

Practice tolerance and kindness…in your own home and in your community.

Pay it forward…pay for someone else’s groceries or coffee as you stand in line.

There are so many other things you can do to make the world a better place. Any anytime you reach out to help another you will be practicing the concept of Tikkun olam. Please join me in sending thoughts of healing to all those affected by the horrible tragedy in New Zealand.