December 21, 2012

Optimist Clubs should deter violence

When I heard of the NRA response to the Newtown, CT tragedy, I went to Twitter, but what I had to say was longer than 140 characters. That led me to Facebook instead. I have to admit, I don't always share fully on Facebook because many of my Facebook friends are not as liberal as I am, but I do hope that they are as pragmatic.

My post was, "How discouraging that the NRA would call for armed guards in every school. Not only do I find it a disturbing picture, I fear that it would be a very short distance to impair individual freedoms. Liberty can be taken away by armed men and women, perhaps even more quickly than it can be preserved."

As an Optimist Club member, I look for ways to help raise children up, inspire them to try and try again to live up to their full potential. The vision of an armed guard in every school, in my mind, limits everyone's potential.

We do not live in a society that believes violence begets violence. The statement made by NRA's executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," is so out of touch with my values that I was compelled to respond.

I generally leave the topic of guns alone. While I don't like guns, I believe that those who want to own them have an individual right to do so. However, we cannot ignore that guns are being used inappropriately by some citizens and for that reason we must call for more regulation. 

The purpose of government is to keep its citizens safe; let's start with greater gun control laws in our own country. The purpose of an Optimist Club is to provide hope and a positive vision for all. Again, I say, let's start with greater gun control laws in our country. These are completely compatible purposes and perfectly achievable goals.

Optimist International has long searched for a flagship program that its member clubs can rally around. It's dabbled in scholarship contests for communications skills, pediatric cancer research and golf. It's even tried internet safety. The biggest challenge has been its dated approach to address problems that were being addressed by others in more dramatic fashion.

The rise of violence in our communities is neither dated or well-addressed by any group. Optimist Clubs, with their positive approach, can be on the forefront of this issue and I hope that they will. Deterring violence through education, alternative activities, and an increased awareness of those who have mental and cognitive impairments is called for in the name of optimism, hope and a positive vision for all.

I'm interested in designing a non-violence program for our Optimist Clubs to pursue. Who's with me? Leave a note; let's work together to get this done. 
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