Words From the Editor
By Sandi Tomlin-Sutker
I’m finding it very difficult to write my regular column introducing you to all the intriguing content contained in this issue. I’m writing this on Dec. 21st … the day the world ends according to some prognosticators.
The world already ended for 26 people in Newtown, Connecticut and for the families of those victims, the world as they knew it ended that day.
In 2012, in the US, there were 13 “mass killings” where a shooter killed at least 2 others and himself. Yes, always guns and always males. (See CBS News’ Crimesiders for details and also Mother Jones’ overview of mass killings over the past decades.)
What do we, as Americans, make of these statistics? And what do we intend to do about solving this increasingly intense problem?
Are mass killings really increasing? Depending on how one looks at the data, mass murders are holding steady over the past decades or they are increasing. However we look at it, there was a definite surge in these killings in 2012 (Mother Jones’ study excluded gun violence in robberies and gang violence and shows an increase since 1982 in the kinds of mass shootings that have led to President Obama asking Vice President Biden to lead a task force to come up with some solutions.)
From one side we hear calls for even more guns on the streets, in schools and other public places. If the principle of Sandy Hook Elementary had a gun, could she have stopped the violence earlier and saved more lives? Possibly; yet do we want to live in a world where everyone is armed and ready to shoot? Must we return to the Wild West culture, whether real or myth?
Perhaps, as some argue, it is about our mental health system and the lack of sufficient services that involve ongoing therapy instead of mainly psychotropic drugs? I just read that the mother of the killer in Connecticut was trying to get her son committed, and that knowledge may have precipitated his spree; yet that same mother kept three guns in the home where this troubled son lived; the guns he used to kill 26 people.
Clearly this is a complex problem. Do we, as a society, have the will and resources to tackle it in a meaningful way? Can we have a true dialogue and attempt to sort out the various issues? There are models in other parts of the world: after a particularly horrific mass shooting in Australia in 1996 (35 dead, 21 wounded) that country instituted stronger weapons restrictions that resulted in fewer firearm deaths, suicides, and a decade without mass shootings. (Australian Gun Study, 11/2006)
We can’t completely legislate behavior, or keep all “assault weapons” out of the hands of criminals; we can’t find and help all mentally ill people. But we can start the process and keep working and refining the laws and learning from our success and mistakes.
Stopping even one mass killing is worth the effort, don’t you think?
Briefly, then, I’ll introduce this Issue; the first one of WNC Woman’s 11th year of publication … yes, our first issue was on the street at Thanksgiving, 2002.
We have published the annual Women Minding Their Own Business issue nearly every year since and it’s always interesting and enlightening to hear what women are doing to create and sustain businesses. And it also includes a broad definition of our “own business”! For women, that often includes pretty much every activity in their lives as we navigate work, family, friends, education, and all the tasks that keep things flowing (or at least moving!)
From Art to Mortgages, from Hormones to Organizing, it’s here. Two writers look at the difference between traditionally masculine approaches to work and life, and a more feminine one.
A UNC-Asheville student relays a searing story of bullying and how cooperation and friendship can help.
And do check out our Women in Business SHOWCASE on pages 28-29-30. I love this focus on the women themselves; a great opportunity to learn what makes them tick as well as a bit more about their passion for their work.
I hope this New Year brings you love, joy and abundance in all areas of life.