What Can We Do?

What can we do?

This week I had planned to talk about ADD and athletes. But the events that occurred over the past few weeks led me to change that topic. 

A local basketball coach died of suicide this week. Nazem Kadri, an Avalanche player who inadvertently hurt Blues goalie Jordan Binnington, has been subjected to racist taunts online. Then, there was a shooting at an elementary school in Texas, and the shooting in Buffalo. I’m actually not sure what to say. 

According to gunviolencearchive.org there have been 17 mass shootings since May 14. A mass shooting is defined by numerous injuries and or deaths. There have been 79 injured and 43 deaths recently. None of us can dispute that this is a problem. 

If you’re old enough, think back to 1999 and the Columbine shooting. It was shocking, tragic, and impactful. Now, we are not as surprised. 

What happens next is predictable. Many demand action. Meanwhile, everyone feels sad and expresses condolences. Moments of silence take place. 

Then comes the anger. After that, people start yelling — too many guns, too many liberals, too many conservatives, it’s just a mental health problem. It’s not just that, give teachers guns, don’t give teachers guns, more cops at schools. It’s the NRA’s fault. It’s not the NRA’s fault. 

The pattern is similar with mental health —  and all the isms. It’s just different words. It’s hard to not feel anything but helpless. There are no words that feel like enough, and they feel trivial in comparison.

I tell athletes to focus on what they can control. That’s what I am going to do today.  

All the things I listed above are true. Moreover, as humans, we gravitate toward simple, swift and dramatic actions. 

Over my years in working with people, I have found that difficult problems are rarely caused by one or two things. There are a large range of factors that contribute to a problem. 

Take a look at Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point. It covers the development of epidemics and the changes that help to stem them. If you read it, it may change your understanding of what’s happening.

We need to make adjustments — in our relationships, with ourselves and with others. We may need to change some laws. We need more resources for mental health and better self care. We need to talk more and be more connected and aware. We need to change our language about mental health.  We need to challenge our own thinking and accept that there is some validity to different views than our own. 

Above all, we are in this together.

Here are some things you may have heard before:

Remember that we are all God’s kids.

Be good to others.

Connect.

Grow.

Somehow make an impact on others.  Get involved.

Be vulnerable.

Ask yourself — are you being who you want to be?