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Tom Watkins
Tom Watkins

The Best and Worst of America

November 10, 2017 

Democracy is a process that is not easy to achieve or maintain. The values of democracy and freedom were on my mind Sunday evening as I reflected on President Trump’s trip to Asia and the talk of their being a 50-50 chance of a nuclear war between the US and North Korea.

http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-korean-war-20170925-story.html

My thoughts were interrupted by the news flash that there had been yet another mass shooting and killing in Texas. We would learn later that 26 people died including multiple children and an equal number were injured.

Why? 

When are we going to come together as a nation to address this madness?

Gun Violence is Killing America

http://domemagazine.com/tomwatkins/tw101317

An old friend, Scott Badesch, who I knew when he was the United Way President for Palm Beach County while I was the president of the Economic Council, made a powerful and deep comment on our society and gun violence in a Facebook post:

“It’s another normal start of the week in America.  26 killed while they are in Church this week. Three weeks ago, 52 killed in Las Vegas.  Regular responses from national leaders..we are monitoring the position and our prayers are with those who have been killed or wounded.   Then nothing will be done. And by Wednesday, it won’t even be in the news.

To federal elected officials who won’t do anything about the way we have become as a society because you are afraid of being called out by the NRA: Spend a minute thinking what it is going to be like when a pastor and his wife bury their child who died today by a bullet.   Spend a minute thinking this happened in a church and then spend a minute thinking how a family woke up this morning, got dressed in their Sunday best, and drove to Church and then held hands as the shooting occurred.  Now their ride home will be with one less family member.  Spend a minute thinking of how mental illness is not addressed in our nation and how we are becoming one of the most violent countries in the world.  

78 killed by bullets in a month just in a Church and at a concert: Nothing done by elected officials. 12 killed by a terrorist: Billions spent.  To the God I worship, a life loss caused by a crazed gunman is no less a life than one caused lost by an evil terrorist gunned down by a car.  My prayers are directed to all those impacted today by this terrible tragedy. And my prayers are directed to our federal elected officials asking that the NRA doesn’t lead your sense of responsibility but your heart and sense of doing what is right will.   Of course, that suggests you have a heart of caring and want to do what is right.”

Scott has it right. When is enough, enough?

Kevin Fischer

Kevin Fischer, President of Michigan NAMI (namimi.org) posted on Facebook (an emotional outlet for many): “We have to stop shifting the blame from guns to mental illness every time there’s a mass shooting.  Guns are part of the problem and we’re only lying to ourselves and the public to suggest any different.  And IF the problem is mental illness, why does every ‘repeal and replace’ healthcare proposal threaten—or outright cut—cut mental healthcare funding? WHICH IS IT; YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS!”  

The CAPS are Kevin’s and reinforce the anger many feel about our elected officials doing nothing about these senseless killings.

Abby Dart

Abby Dart, a Michigan campaign consultant is fed up with the “it’s not the gun- it’s the people,” nonsensical argument about the insane gun violence in America. She too posted on Facebook: “It’s a cop out to blame gun violence on mental health issues. The U.K. and Australia have their share of individuals with mental health issues but not our share of massive amounts of gun massacres. Plain and simple, they have gotten rid of the guns and we have not. Perhaps not a perfect system but when entire families are being slaughtered as what happened in church yesterday, we must act.”

Sadly, based on our past the inaction as a nation we will bemoan the innocent loss of life— and do nothing. 

Closer to Home, Democracy Prevails

Democracy is not a spectator sport and locally many came out to ensure four bright, capable, decent public officials were re-elected. All of us who live in these cities, (for that matter in this state and nation) are better off because these individuals were returned to office. It is truly a testimony to democracy (and brilliant campaigns) at work.

These local metro Detroit area mayors are adding value, making a difference and were returned to office for their efforts.  Mayors Bill Wild, Jack O’Reilly, Mike Duggan and Daniel Paletko are among the most respected and hard-working city officials in America.

Cities are the incubator of innovation and democracy at work. These four gentlemen and the people they have around them are adding value and making a difference.

They and their teams give me hope that in spite of the challenges we have at the international, national and state level, we have good people at the local level who love democracy and are working to make the world a better place one individual, family, neighborhood, community and city at a time.

Tom Watkins is a business and educational consultant in the US and China. He has served the citizens of Michigan in multiple capacities including state superintendent of schools and state mental health director. He can be emailed at: tdwatkins88@gmail.com, or followed on twitter at:@tdwatkins88

 

November 9, 2017 · Filed under Tom Watkins

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Jill // Nov 10, 2017 at 9:01 am

    Tom – you, Scott, Abby and Kevin are all so right. This is a big problem as a country, State and Local level. Why are guns with rapid fire allowed? Why is there so much blaming but no action? Why does the “leader” of the United States cares only about himself and the fellow Americans that he is supposed to represent? Our problems have become worse. I imagine our lives being like the Jetsons – the cartoon I loved as a kid. Now I know it is because we are all afraid of each other that our lives would someday look like the Jetsons. No more grocery shopping, school by computers, worshipping by Skype and it goes on because we are afraid. Afraid of hate, assault and even death to interact with our each other. We need the local level to step up as things can be accomplished o e at a time. I do not want anymore children dying for practicing thei faith, people with mental health issues to continue to be stigmatized but our government is set on taking services away, and basic human rights being traumatized daily. We have our own war going on and it needs to stop! I love people and no one can take that from me! I love all people and God put me on this earth to show that love unconditionally. So I will do what can as one person and hope others will too until we reunite again as a human race!

  • 2 Carol Zuniga // Nov 10, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Thank you Tom. We are victims of our own “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps” mentality. As Americans, we are taught to forget, look forward and move on; it is how we prosper but it is also how we repeat or errors. The thoughts of Scott Badesch and Kevin Fischer were both profound and disturbing. Perhaps the short interval of time between the two recent horrific incidents (Texas and Las Vegas) will not allow enough cooling off time to simply move on without seeking change.

  • 3 Anagnorisis // Nov 10, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    The tide will must reverse as it becomes finalized that despite reasoning otherwise there is no alternative in the USA to limiting gun access to the public. New administrations will be necessary to accomplish this, the current and old being too mired in defeatism and dollar signs. Many details will need to be enacted but like the Bill of Rights not many words need be written.

  • 4 Joe Nathan // Nov 10, 2017 at 10:41 pm

    Glad Tom points out terrific public servants.

    The gun situation is one fo the most frustrating and challenging Americans face. I wish we could figure out how to make progerss.

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