We Must Grasp Significance Of Santa Monica Shooting Tragedy: SMC Trustee

Saturday, 15 Jun 2013, 8:52:00 AM

Special To The Mirror

Mourners gather for an evening vigil at Santa Monica College Monday evening at the spot where Marcela Dia Franco and her father Carlos Navarro Franco, the school's groundskeeper, were shot on Friday.
Photo by Roger Morante
Mourners gather for an evening vigil at Santa Monica College Monday evening at the spot where Marcela Dia Franco and her father Carlos Navarro Franco, the school's groundskeeper, were shot on Friday.

Editor's Note: This is an op-ed from Santa Monica College trustee David Finkel regarding June 7's violent shooting rampage that ended at SMC.

Those

of us in the Santa Monica College family grieve for the victims of June 7’s

violence that robbed many of their lives and shattered peace and security at Santa

Monica College.

Such events have become so common throughout our nation, that

it is not surprising that many just want a return to normality.

But what is

normality?

Is it a society of peace and tranquility, or is it a society of

chronic violence?

In Santa Monica alone, there have been two more killings

since the savage slaughter at Santa Monica College, and a threat of killings at

a local apartment.

We must try to grasp the significance of June 7’s

tragedy, as well as the events that followed, and turn it into something

positive.

What

is the most positive thing we can do?

Despite Congress’ failure to enact

meaningful gun control legislation and policies to reduce the widening gap

between wealth and poverty, we can recognize the poisonous cocktail of violence

that has dominated the way in which we address problems, and vow to alter such

actions.

Sick and mentally deranged people sometimes act out in violent ways.

Therefore,

we must advocate for extended national mental health care.

But

more important, we cannot disassociate the way in which too many segments of

society address problems by engaging in violence. 

We must see the

connection between the ways in which individuals, groups and governments use

violence to deal with festering social problems.

Examples of that are endless.

Above and beyond the many killings at schools, colleges and public places that

have taken place in our nation in the recent past, racism, sexism, intolerance

and homophobia still exists... even in Los Angeles, which is one of the more

diverse communities in the nation.

At the expenses of human and economic

capital governments have used violence as one of their central means of

addressing disputes. 

What has been missing is an emphasis on safety,

mutual respect, mediation and tolerance of differences.

It is not an

accident that our federal government does not have a permanent cabinet seat for

a Secretary of Peace. It is not an accident that our nation has gone through

many sagas of initiating warfare in the name of security and attempts to resolve

disputes.

It is not an accident that historically, cultural and religious

groups have engaged in violence as a means of addressing religious, ideological

and territorial disputes.

It is not an accident that the civil rights movement

in our nation was a desperate response to long term economic and social

dominance by means of violence.

It is not an accident that our nation has

interned or otherwise shunned groups of citizens out of fear because of their

race or ethnicity. It is not an accident that our world has experienced more

wars in the past 100 years than it has made moral progress.

So,

what must we do to stop that longstanding pattern of physical and social violence

as a means of addressing problems?

By example and word we must press for a safe

society characterized by mutual respect and tolerance for differences... one

which will promote safety and peace and foster a dynamic expansion of

creativity and opportunity. 

How can we

do that?

We can start by recognizing that we are bound together by a common

purpose: a desire to be free; to develop our minds and use our ingenuity and

imagination in constructive ways. 

We can

look beyond our noses and socially and politically advocate for and demand the development

of a society that insists on pursuing peaceful and nonviolent solutions to

differences.

We can behave like global citizens.

We cannot do it alone.

We need

the involvement of our entire nation and society. But we can start here in southern

California. 

Let us pledge today to join

the ranks of people who want to build a life based on safety, peace, mutual

respect, and nonviolent approaches to problem solving.

Mahatma Ghandi and Rev.

Martin Luther King, Jr. taught the world how to do it, but we have lost our way

again amidst a struggle for dominance and power (by some) and survival (by most).

 

Let us reject those who cannot or will

not place peaceful solutions above power packed and violent ones. 

We can all

learn how to build a better world.

We can do that!

Slowly and incrementally, we

can do that!

And in the process, we can save ourselves, our nation and the

world by redirecting it away from violence and toward peace, mutual respect and

tolerance.

That is the message that rings out to me in the aftermath of the

violence at Santa Monica College.

David Finkel

Trustee, Santa Monica College

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