The response of violence to conflict is, to some extent, a learned behaviour. This statement includes gun violence.
It comes from a place of fear of being a target, fear of living daily with the threat of gun violence and fear of not conforming. That is a lot of fear.
Even before a crime takes place, guns, and the accompanying violence, play a significant part in the lives of those in communities with a reputation of violence.
The outcome of such fear and learned violent behaviour is a lack of respect for the value of life, individual, community and national life.
Those who suffer directly or indirectly from the effects of gun violence all reach to the same place emotionally and mentally.
This congruence of feeling and thought creates a hopeful opportunity. It ought to become the catalyst that gives us the will and courage to address the gun violence that is becoming a part of our daily life.
Religious leaders are casting blame on the lack of coherence of family units for the increasing violence in society.
Alternatively a family may be unified but their environment and learned responses of violence precludes the teaching of respect for anything including life.
One leader has included the availability of drugs and weapons as well as the existence of gangs as factors contributing to the rising violence and incidences of gun related crimes.
All of these are true. The reasons are valid and relevant.
However my aim (no pun intended) is not to cast blame or vent anger or frustration against the system or the perpetrators of violence.
Instead my aim is to amplify the message of the sanctity of life and the kind of respect each one of us needs to have for the life of another.
With every pull of a gun trigger, there emerges a bullet that may hit a living target.
That bullet may penetrate through tissue, tendons, nerves, muscles and bones causing physical damage in the immediate area.
The kinetic energy of that compact piece of lead disseminates to surrounding organic matter causing further damage not immediately visible.
Similarly, that same bullet penetrates the psyche of the victim and his or her family, friends and associates, tearing their lives apart emotionally, spiritually, mentally, financially and in other ways.
The ripple effect of that nucleus of destruction is far reaching and has no time limits.
The learned behaviour of violence in response to conflict can be unlearnt. New, more peaceful responses can be learnt which lead to greater respect and harmony.