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Change Will Do Us Good

Change Will Do Us Good

By Sandra Pfeifer, Southern Illinois

If change for right action in our democratic society is going to happen, the focus must be centered on what is right for the whole of society. This kind of reform requires a special kind of nuance that essentially leaves no one out. Based on the premise confirmed in the Declaration of Independence that we are all equal with unalienable rights, positive pro actions must carefully be considered in the light of how society has forced some people into undeniably difficult situations.

Situations that, either by birth or by circumstance, have placed them where they are in jeopardy of being denied their rights and/or worse, cause them harm. This also leaves room for the consideration of those whose circumstances are so harsh and emotionally debilitating that they resort to doing harm.

Sadly, more often than not, those individuals are the products of severe life circumstances, abject poverty or abuse.

They are victims who have been damaged by living through unspeakable situations, childhood trauma, sexual abuse, abandonment. As a result, these damaged individuals have fallen prey to a certain kind of desperation that alters their understanding of right and wrong, such that without the proper help, they commit terrible crimes that force some of society's worst punishments on them; all before they are able to fully understand their situation.

All these mismanaged situations ripple out into society in ways that disregard acceptable social behavior and ultimately result in actions that are not only unacceptable but at times even unimaginable. At this point in a troubled society factions are formed, each taking a side to either condemn or justify, standing by their respective sides unrelentingly. No mercy, no compromise.

A far more appropriate and effective action to benefit society straightaway, (as well as in the long term), would be to consider the question of why, why these atrocities keep happening. There are many clear-cut clues that point to specific reasons, some of which are already obvious and would enable us to envision more just determinations to relieve the pressures of strict and outmoded guidelines.

We must do a better job of investigating the root causes for bad and harmful behavior, now, because it is literally killing us. Mass shootings, mass incarceration, acute divisions of people with their respective ideas fiercely, one against the other, which only serves to create a destructive ‘us vs them’ mindset that solves nothing.

One of our first priorities toward change ought to be the problem of mass incarceration in our jails and prisons. It is one of the most significant social issues we face. In terms of clear and obvious outcomes there would be no reason to not begin the work of completely changing how the criminal justice system operates. Just the fact alone, that 80- 90% of the Black men who crowd the prisons come from remarkably similar backgrounds ought to tip us off as where to begin.

Getting out of the hood is not just hard, but damn near impossible between the helplessly flawed criminal justice system and the structure of socialization in poor Black communities. Chronic racial subordination, poverty and loss of hope adversely affects all social norms in these neighborhoods. Research shows that prolonged exposure in these communities only exacerbates problems such that these places become hopelessly impacted. Nothing ever changes in the hood.

Regarding the horrifying problem of mass school shootings and mass shootings in general which have left a wake of emotionally damaged humans and enough sorrow to fill all the oceans, I There are no police guards at schools or teachers with guns or even gun control or mental health care can change overnight the root causes of those shocking massacres of innocent children and random individuals. The real problem essentially seems to stem from a deep emotional hurt embedded in the shooter’s terribly messed up psyche. The very sad and shameful truth is that our culture has let these people down, to the point where they become so desperate for attention and acknowledgment that they lose all moral sensibility.

We stubbornly continue to avoid facing the real truth that our culture has turned a dark corner, and nothing will change that until we deal with the real reasons why hate, poverty, misery, and greed have a stranglehold on our society. We are in a cultural black hole aimlessly looking for a way out.

We need a complete cultural paradigm shift. We may actually have to teach kindness and caring if we can’t conjure them up on our own. Humans have the innate ability to be kind and caring; that is how we survived as a people through millennia of natural disasters…we are tribal by nature, humans do not do well as loners, we need each other to survive. That is why the tenets of the Declaration of Independence are seminal ideas that enhance the survival of the human race with the promise of fairness and equality.

If we believe it is time to initiate change in order to keep our democracy intact, then we need to set up national organizations that will oversee sweeping kinds of changes on all levels of society. We need investigations that are nuanced and look more profoundly into the circumstances that produce illicit social behavior, the results could change everything in how we see ourselves as a people, as a country, bringing us out of the dark and into the light of better days to heal our broken democracy.

Every case in the criminal justice system should be viewed with an emphasis on mercy and empathy, rather than legal actions that condemn. We need to get rid of strict sentencing guidelines and give judges the freedom they need to make informed decisions based on deeper personal investigations into each case that comes before them.

As citizens we must stand behind all positive social actions with an unwavering commitment to restore the soul of America– it is the daily triumph of integrity over skepticism. We must stand up for what is right morally and ethically for the love of all humanity.

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.

To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

Buckminster Fuller

Sandra Pfeifer - Simpson, Ill

Independent social issue documentary filmmaker


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