May 27, 2022
Words are insufficient to describe our collective grief, outrage, and disgust at the news of another mass shooting — this time on Tuesday in the town of Uvalde, Texas, at Robb Elementary School. Seemingly enjoying the waning days of the school year and anticipating the joys of the upcoming summer, 19 children and two teachers (as of now) will instead be laid to rest, mourned by their families, neighbors, classmates, and community.
The Uvalde shooting is the 27th school shooting that has occurred this year. For too long, this nation has tempered its response to such despicable acts of violence — thoughts and prayers have become the norm for anything but ordinary shootings. Yet, the very lives we fight to protect from war, hunger, violence, poverty, discrimination, oppression, and abuse are anything but safe from a society that has continually failed to take preventative measures to stop them from happening again.
With each mass shooting, a wound is reopened for communities like Buffalo, NY and Laguna Woods, CA in the last two weeks, and the many others over decades who have endured the senseless loss of loved ones due to gun violence.
The emotional and psychospiritual consequences for parents, children, families, and institutions of such attacks are substantial — being forced to grapple with helping children process trauma, comprehend tragedy, reconcile death, and manage fear, all the while attending to their own emotions and concerns.
As leaders of a community committed to individual and collective health and wellness, social healing, and transformation, we implore all those with the ability to take action to stand with us in rejecting this violent “new normal” and working to reclaim our right to protect our schools, our common places, our houses of worship, and every part of this country plagued by the scourge of violence. We must also strengthen our ability to reach and assist those who have mental illness before they opt to carry out such violent actions, and support those whose health and mental health have been impacted by trauma.
What can be done to help?
Channel outrage into positive action
As a society, we must attend to the needs of those directly impacted by these shootings. GoFundMe pages and VictimsFirst networks are accepting donations for those who can help financially. For anyone who is local to Uvalde, blood banks have been set up as well. Texas Rep. Tony Gonzales called for mental health experts to contact his office by phone to coordinate support for those impacted by the tragedy. San Antonio Legal Services Association said it needs attorneys licensed in Texas to help families and the victims of the shooting in the coming weeks. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Learning for Justice project shared a letter for educators who are grappling with the news and their own emotions. The nonprofit organization Girls Inc. has also shared information for parents and guardians on how to help reassure young people following mass shootings and other tragedies.
Attend to your own health and wellness
For those in our community who have been activated by these tragedies, we urge you to take good care and reach out for support as you need it. Our six award-winning and low-cost mental health community clinics are available for tele-health appointments. For registered students, Student Services is offering 8 1:1 counseling sessions this summer. Other services can be found at the Wellness Center’s Sharepoint page, including Neolth, a digital stress management platform founded by CIIS Somatics faculty Katherine Grill.
Damali Robertson, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, will also be holding a space for embodied reflection on Friday, May 27th at 12:00 pm on Zoom (Register here).
Make your voice heard
Perhaps the best way we can honor the victims of these horrific attacks is to demand that this violent “new normal” no longer be an acceptable part of our society. As we have learned in the wake of other historical socio-cultural ills, it is only when a thunder of voices aligns around a worthy and life-giving cause, that the clamor of fear, ego, scarcity, and brutality is drown out. Now is such a time.
We encourage you to urge your local Congressional representatives to take decisive action to end gun violence and remember their voting record when elections come around. Get involved — and stay involved — in the discussion; identify the issues that resonate most with you and find ways to support those causes. There are many non-profits working to avert the next mass shooting.
June 2nd is "Wear Orange Day," kicking off National Gun Violence Awareness Weekend. A grassroots movement founded the annual event in 2015. Since then, it has served as a time to learn about gun violence's varied, complex causes and possible solutions.
It is deplorable and tragic that any individual pursing an education, or any educator or educational staff member fears for their life. As we at CIIS know well, classrooms are sacred spaces where the whole person is nurtured—a safe haven for the mind, body, and spirit. Anyone that brings guns into that space and turns them on innocents defiles that sacredness in the most abject way.
The shootings in Uvalde, Buffalo, Laguna Woods, and elsewhere cause outrage and heartbreak to be sure, but also command us to be part of the solution.
In solidarity and spirit,
Brock Blomberg, President
Kathy Littles, Provost
Richard Buggs, Chief of Staff
Rachel Bryant, Chief Diversity Officer
Shana Alexander, Chief Financial Officer
Header photo/Associated Press