Two weeks ago a terrible tragedy hit the Central Peninsula Hospital that few of us would ever expect or want to see in our rural community. We often feel we are protected due to our location; yet we have the same mix of people within our population as you would find anywhere, only on a smaller scale.
Alaska is made up of a diverse population, most of our citizens are generous, strong and admirable human beings, and many of us do not want to look at the dark underbelly of our state.
Alaska has ranked as one of the highest per capita in domestic violence, rape, child abuse and child sexual assault in the nation for over 30 years. These are violent crimes against people. These are issues that are often painful, and many individuals prefer not to talk about them. Yet what goes on within families or for individuals impacts our schools, neighborhoods, churches, workplaces and communities. Violence is not a private issue, it is a community issue.
Violence has increased in our nation, not just Alaska. Violence is often the outcome of fear, anger and pain and often a learned behavior.
We as a nation have become more desensitized to violence. We see and hear it daily in the news, through the Internet and in some popular games and movies. We have become desensitized and therefore more accepting of violence, if not on a conscious level, then a subconscious.
For violence to decrease, as a community we need to say no more violence. What can we do? How can we change a social attitude of acceptance of violence? It begins at home, within our families. How do we treat each other? Is it with respect and love for each individual within that family? How do we treat our schoolmates? Co-workers? Neighbors? Can we be tolerant and respectful toward others, even when they are different from us?
If we want violence to stop, we must each be accountable. We, as a community, must demand an end to all levels of violence. We begin by limiting violence within our personal lives. We begin by talking about it and being honest. We begin by finding ways to make our community safer for all its members. Begin at home, at school, at church or in our workplaces; arbitrary acts of kindness?
When we can say no to violence and yes to respect, dignity and love, we will be a stronger community and a stronger nation. Make a choice, peace on Earth begins at home.
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