The last few days have been filled with news about the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Watching TV coverage I overheard the mayor of Dayton indicate that this shooting was the 250th mass shooting in the United States. While there may be debate about the accuracy of this number and what constitutes a mass shooting, clearly we have an ongoing problem that has not been effectively addressed by any segment of our society.

Sadly, once again, many are dead and injured and many others suffering at the hands of very misguided individuals.

This problem does not have a simple, one- or two-step solution: it will take years with people working at different levels of our society to turn this around. Limiting the sale of firearms and instituting background checks on gun purchases is a beginning. While these two changes will not get the whole job done, they are a starting place. Comprehensive action is very late and it must be put forward quickly and relatively free of selfish interest. We must work together.

The president has indicated that both of these recent shooters had mental or psychiatric problems. This aspect of the problem seems obvious, yet little has been done about this. Where I live there is a shortage of psychiatrists and mental health programs — and seemingly no comprehensive discussion and limited targeted action has been done to produce healthier people who reach higher and help each other.

As a psychiatric rehabilitation professional, the underlying problem has always been about how to help people reach their full potential. The overall focus of a society must be on raising physical, mental and spiritual health, not just eliminating illness.

Again, the real issue is how to make better people who do not do horrible things to others. To correct this situation, many social actions, approaches and solutions are needed.

The discussion seems to always get turned toward one solution and one program or cause. And it seems we just argue with each other about the best option, and very little action is taken.

So, how do we solve this problem of mass shootings? By raising better people who do not do these horrible things to each other.

To accomplish this, what is required is a multi-level societal discussion and action plan involving people who are relatively free of self interest, working together.

For those readers who desire a more comprehensive conversation than what I have offered above, and want to know what they can do to help themselves and others, turn to the book I published in 2016 entitled, Light on the Mountain (available on Amazon). It is a spiritual parable on the state of our society and offers one vision of what it will take to turn things around. The key is bringing together people with a common philosophy and a core value system and a level of thinking and operating for others, as much as thinking and operating for themselves.

From my perspective, spiritual learning and higher knowledge are the ancient treasure waiting to be discovered. They are the missing piece — a catalyst — to help make other essential pieces of our personality and skill sets work together; they are a vehicle to help accomplish this goal of making a better world.

No. I am not a dreamer, but a spiritual traveler who knows, because of training and experience, what needs to be done. May you benefit from this writing and reach higher.

Additional Resource
A paper offering an immediate personal solution entitled, “The Sufi Call: Making a Better World,” available online at www.stewartbitkoff.com/the-sufi-call-making-a-better-world/.

Dr. Stewart Bitkoff
Dr. Stewart Bitkoff is an avid student of Sufi Mysticism and the perennial philosophy. Professionally, specializing in the healing applications of therapeutic recreation, psychiatric rehabilitation and mental health treatment, Bitkoff holds a doctorate in education and has served as a faculty member for six colleges and universities. He is the author of The World of Pond Stories, Light on the Mountain, Sufism for Western Seekers, The Ferryman's Dream, and A Commuter's Guide to Enlightenment, among others.. Visit www.stewartbitkoff.com.

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