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Can Horrific Tragedy Lead to Improving A Community?

Posted by Thomas Edwards on June 1, 2019 12:55 PM EDT
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Yesterday's unimaginable tragedy in Virginia Beach where more than a dozen people died from an employee who became an active shooter's maniacal assault on the city government's municipal offices... an event that has been called devastating and the worst day in the city's history by its mayor.

So, how does a community as large and diverse as Virginia Beach which has been rated as one of the top ten safest large cities in the county recover from such a shocking and incomprehensible act of violence against innocent people?  How do citizens and government officials galvanize positive momentum from such tragedy?  Where do we start to begin to rebuild our sense of safety and security against such outrageous acts?  And how can the city which celebrated only weeks ago an incredible community-wide event called "Something in the Water" become a victim of such a heinous act of self-destruction and violence against innocent peers, colleagues, and friends?

 These questions and many others are almost impossible to answer at the present time.  The magnitude of the event which happened in Virginia Beach's municipal center and was propagated by an employee against so many innocent fellow employees defies singular solutions.  Yet, part of recovery is accepting the consequences of inaction and embracing the clear objective of rebuilding community safety and addressing mental health in its many varied forms.

First, going through the grieving process will take time.  And identifying ways to strengthen safety procedures and protections for employees in workplaces just as we need to do for students in schools, patients in hospitals and participants in public gatherings and festivals.

Ultimately, though, it will take far more than public policy changes such as removing guns.  People can kill other people in mass through a variety of ways.  Getting at the heart of the root cause of the violence, predetermining predators and people with risky behaviors and reducing and mitigating the risk of potential mental health trauma that can lead to suicidal acts that also endanger the lives of innocent others is the hard work that must be done.  Building a healthy community requires bold action and engagement across multiple sectors and is more than physical, social, community and financial health.  Mental health and its ultimate progress to self-destruction through addiction, violence to others and violation of basic human rights for safety and security must be dealt with before other policies can be truly effective and sustainable.

The challenge will be taking such tragedy to ignite the best in the human spirit to find solutions to resolving the causes for actions that represent the worst in the human spirit.

May God bless those who lost their lives needlessly yesterday, and bring peace to their grieving families, friends, and colleagues.  And may God give us the wisdom, determination and focus to find ways to resolve the root causes of such acts-in Virginia and throughout the world.

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