Viewpoint: It’s not a panacea, but talking to others may decrease violence

By Linda Wilkins

It starts with the people.

I remember these words spoken by my 10th grade geography teacher. While she was speaking about solving issues of hunger and poaching in Africa, I often apply them to other issues I observe in the world today.

It starts with the people.

A few weeks ago, a college student at Lone Star College System’s campus in Cypress went on a stabbing spree that injured 14 and lead to the hospitalization of 12 people.

While none of the victims were killed, the event is a tragedy nonetheless.

As with any shooting or act of violence, people tend to ask, “What could have been done to prevent this?”

Some look to the future and ask, “What can we do to prevent this from happening again?”

In response to that, I say it starts with the people. It starts with those who meet people who are struggling with fantasies of violence or who feel all hope is lost.

The solution lies in the relationships we share with other people. Are we taking the time to learn about others? Are we expressing our care for other people? Are we taking the time to make sure others are OK?

In light of the recent school shootings and the Lone Star tragedy, it is evident to me that the problem does not just lie in the fact that weapons are available to us. It lies in the fact that people are using those weapons against others.

I won’t claim that being nosy into other people’s lives will save lives. People will always find a way to be violent if they want. Take away the guns and they’ll use a knife. Take away knives and they can make their own.

Even paying attention to other people and their actions won’t always point to a problem mentally.

However, I would hope that if someone had seen that the Lone Star student was struggling with a fantasy of death that they would’ve taken the time to help him.

It starts with the people.

Something else that starts with people is racism.

A song that was recently released by Brad Paisley titled “Accidental Racist” is considered controversial. Some argue that the song, no matter its intentions, is offensive and is encouraging racism rather than resolving it. In an interview with Ellen DeGeneris, Paisley said the song was intended to encourage discussion on solving the problems that still stem from racism.

One part of the song states, “I try to put myself in your shoes and that’s a good place to begin, but it ain’t like I can walk a mile in someone else’s skin.”

If we take Paisley at his word, this phrase does encourage different people to talk to each other. How can we move past history if we keep bringing it back up with no resolution?

Wasn’t that part of the problem all those years ago? By stereotyping, people just assumed they knew other people without even talking to them personally.

That’s something that’s happened for thousands of years.

While these two topics may seem odd put next to each other, their beginnings are actually quite similar. Racism can lead to violence. At the start of each, there lies a person.

It’s not like I’m saying anything we haven’t heard before.

The solution starts with people taking the time to understand where another person comes from before making judgments about them.

The point I’m trying to make is that problems in today’s society might become fewer if we talked to each other.

Saying a friendly, genuine “hello” could make someone feel wanted. Accepting someone as a friend could be the saving grace of someone who’s considering suicide. Take the time to understand people.

We can jabber about how to solve today’s issues all we want until we’re blue in the face.

Until we realize that all these issues start with people, we’re not getting anywhere.

Linda Wilkins is a sophomore journalism major from Tyrone, Ga. She is the city editor for the Lariat.