by Dr. Jay Breitlow
I am writing this article because I believe we can all make a difference in saving and enhancing the lives of not just our children, but people around the world. I am an expert in school-related violence not by choice or research, but because of personal experience.
December 1, 1993: While in class as a freshman at Wauwatosa West High School in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, our associate principal was shot and killed. This entire event shook our community, and I was one of thousands of students who would continue to walk the halls in which his life was taken.
However, it shook our family a little more, as the associate principal, Dale Breitlow, was also my hero. He was my father.
In talking about “guns” I realize I am talking about something that is socially, spiritually and certainly politically charged for many people. Yet it is my hope and deepest desire that through this page, we will save at least one life and create a new thread of conversation.
Most people don’t have the time or resources to create a platform for global change. Most people are not president of the United States or the mayor of New York City. But that doesn’t mean you lack the ability to create change.
In fact, I believe it means the opposite, in that you have just as much – if not more – direct power in shaping your community. It is far more likely that your neighbor will have influence on you or your family than anybody you see on TV, and vice versa!
For decades, the United States has struggled with keeping schools safe for our innocent and loved. Despite law after law and one new safety precaution after another, the violence and death toll rises. Why? Well, I think I serve as a model for “Why”.
You see, since I lost my father, I have struggled to identify with the people who want to ban or limit guns in our communities. I have also struggled to identify with people who want more guns in our communities. I have enrolled in gun safety classes to attempt to connect with one side of the gun conversation, only to feel pulled back to the other side and be the class no-show.
Then while talking a dear friend he helped me see that I could identify with these questions, but that my answer was different than just “yes or no” to guns. You see, I can’t identify with either side, or even be in the middle of the conversation with guns because that is not a conversation that ultimately provides answers.
Year after year, month after month, seeing the headlines on the news about the latest school shooting, you might be like me in thinking: “Well, then there must be no answer.” Yet the fight goes on and on. One state has different rules; one senator wants to change federal laws; one mayor wants more background checks; one city wants guns in the hands of every resident; one president wants different laws than another. It seems as if there won’t ever be a consensus.
Then one day, it came out in a casual conversation that the answer I was seeking was different than the questions people were most commonly asking. The reason why there is no answer to the gun debate is because it’s the wrong question. There is no loving answer to a question that centers on implements of death and destruction.
In my opinion, so many of the questions we are currently asking don’t have solutions. “Should we have more guns or less guns to keep our children safe?” isn’t and answerable question. Yet, I do believe school-related violence, and violence in general, is a real-life problem that has answers.
How do we solve violence in America? Merely asking the following question puts into motion the foundation for the solution: “How can I create more love?”
My loving answer for the world was writing it all down for the world. In November of 2014 I completed the book “Love, Not Guns.” In writing this book, researching, and repeatedly going back to that tragic day was extremely difficult for me, yet at the same time therapeutic.
This is an extraordinarily personal book, and my deepest hope is that I can give you a glimpse into what it feels like to be the person that “this could never happen to.” I explore all sides of the most common and current questions being asked, and talk about why they inherently fail to find answers.
The answers must start with love!
Dr. Jay D. Breitlow, D.C., is a former nuclear engineer and pessimist turned optimistic entrepreneur. When not reading, writing or playing in the Colorado mountains with his daughter, Selom, Jay focuses his passion on the private chiropractic practice he shares with his wife, Christina. Dr Jay is also a life and business coach for Full Circle Coaching and Consulting.