We Already Have The Solutions
by Chiquita S. Williams
It’s taken me the last 36 hours to even be able to breathe after learning the news of the devastating school massacre in Uvalde, TX.
This morning, new details are emerging about the life of 18-year-old shooter, Salvador Ramos. There are some important things to note. For example, Ramos:
- Engaged in routine “aggression” against his mother;
- Ran away when she disconnected their home wifi;
- Had a mental health intervention in the past year;
- Had repeatedly bullied, threatened and fought with fellow students at his high school;
- Had stalked one of his peers;
- Routinely waged BB gun shootings and egging attacks against Uvalde residents;
- Lost all his friends months before this shooting;
- Became extremely isolated;
- And made known his intentions to kill his grandmother and shoot up a school.
Lord, I need to take a deep breath. Inhale. Exhale.
I’m sure there is so much more to the story to tell.
I can’t help but think that if there had been restorative interventions at his school or through family court upon the first signs of trouble, that none of us would be having a very traumatizing conversation about continual violence in this country. Now, I know there are many elements to ending mass shootings and there is no one size fits all approach. But clearly, restorative and transformative practices in this case could have changed the entire trajectory of this situation. No one is talking about that in the broader public discourse.
Today, I invite us to ramp up our public dialogues about restorative and transformative justice. No 18-year old suddenly wakes up with a capacity to wage horrendous violence. Those urges and behaviors are carefully nourished over time in a nation-state built upon violence. This is true in Uvalde and in Buffalo. If we want mass shootings to stop, we need to teach peacebuilding behaviors in every place that children roam and do what all of us already do–provide space for early intervention for young people and young adults who exhibit potential or actual propensity for violent behavior. And since adults commit the vast majority of violence in our country, we need RJ circles everywhere for them too, from workplaces to houses of faith. We already have the solutions. The Indigenous peoples of the world figured this out thousands of years ago. We have to be on the frontlines demanding funding for RJ everywhere and a defunding of school resource officers and active shooter drills, which have been totally ineffective against mass shooters. We have to disrupt violence at the root if we are going to live with safety and dignity. The next 7 generations are counting on us.
I am praying for the children and teachers killed; their families, friends and neighbors; and all who are experiencing the vicarious trauma associated with community, interpersonal and family violence. Prayer is important but faith without works is dead. May we all commit to action that will save our very lives and heal our nation