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Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2013

Issue of the Week: We Must Transform Our Culture of Violence

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“When people go to pray on a Sunday and then are murdered, something is wrong in our country. When people go to a theater and are murdered, something is wrong with our country. When children go to school and are murdered and are less than 10 years old, something is wrong with our planet.”

Those are the wise words of Amardeep Kaleka, who spoke at the memorial service marking the year anniversary of the tragic mass shooting at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, where Kaleka’s father and five other worshippers were killed.

We can’t agree enough.

We have to transform our culture of violence that has permeated our culture so deeply that so many of us cannot envision another way of life.

But we have to do it. It begins at the personal level by learning how to resolve conflicts without resorting to violence. We also need to be respectful of others, no matter how different they are from us.

We also need to change our laws. There are commonsense, nonpolitical solutions we can implement if we have the will to do so. We must keep guns out of the hands of criminals and young people by ensuring that they cannot access or purchase cheap guns anonymously. We must treat the illegal possession of firearms as the serious crime that it truly is. We must help those suffering abuse at the hands of a partner to find safety. And we must build strong, safe neighborhoods where residents aren’t afraid of being shot whenever they leave their homes.

The answer to violence isn’t more guns, more segregation and more hand wringing. We all have the power to change our culture of violence in a variety of very personal and also community-based efforts, both small and large, if we want to do it.