As I reflect on the tragedy here in our hometown I’m heartbroken for the faithful and their families and friends. Our thoughts and prayers go out to each of them. It’s hard to fathom what to say or do, but it’s most important to let them know we love and care for them, and if we can, we’re here for them. Having lost several people who I’ve loved over my lifetime it was comforting to know so many people cared for me and my family. None of those losses were easy, but each made me appreciate both my loved one more and the sacredness of each life I touch. It’s obvious when you hear of those we’ve lost that they each cared deeply about almost everyone they knew. There are lessons to learn here, but the greatest is the love they had for their family, friends and the lives to whom they’ve made such a difference. Celebrate their lives.
Think about the people you love and care for in your life. What would you do to protect them. Your spouse or loved one. Ask any mom or dad what they would do to protect their child from injury or harm. What would you do to protect your parents or closest friends?
Shortly after the Las Vegas event last year I was asked at a speech on talent screening and selection why theses continue to happen. As many of you know I track demographics and population changes as a hobby. It started while watching more than 300,000 people leave Western Pennsylvania from 1985 – 1995 as a result of the loss of the steel industry here to lower labor costs in other parts of the world. Here’s our challenge: we all believe that everyone else cares and wants the best for everyone. The problem is about .1% of our US population is very unstable. Why that is I’ll address in a minute. But if one tenth of one percent of our citizens are very troubled that’s about 330,000 people right now who are so distraught they are both capable and willing to take action to hurt someone else. That should be frightening to each of us.
What can I do about it? First, care. If you don’t care it won’t make a difference. But if you do, you’ll care about those you love, those who are friends, your co-workers and those you interface with either regularly or randomly. Think of those random acts of kindness you’ve witnessed - they make a difference whether you realize it or not. I’m reminded of one of our most successful clients - they reduce their success to one primary principle - they’ve created a culture of care, and they attribute it to the success in every single thing they do. It is an unbelievable great place to go to work every day!
A part of the problem with some of these disenfranchised individuals is that they don't have or haven't had people who really care about them. For that I'm sorry their lives led them to that state. Perhaps that one random act of kindness could change some of their lives. But there are those who do not care, who are legitimately on the far fringe of society who you cannot connect with, no matter what you do. It's those people who are prone to hurt someone. In my life I've had the unfortunate experience to have known two such individuals. No amount of care, counseling, therapy nor medication would ever help such an individual. Are those two dangerous? To date they've never shown any propensity for violence and do not own any firearms that anyone knows of, but they are empty souls, capable of potential harm to anyone. If there was a way to identify the .1% I think we'd know who and then prepare for what to do next. It’s that type of diligence process someone has to have the courage to create. Kind of a TSA Pre-Check. We know they’re there – wouldn’t it be better to know who they are? Radical – yes – but if it saves the lives of the innocents. Think Sandy Hook, Squirrel Hill, Las Vegas, Orlando and on and on. Those families would do anything to have their loved ones back. What would you be willing to do to protect the loved ones around you?
Next, be diligent. I was reminded of the need for diligence on my flight back to Pittsburgh yesterday- the airport I was traveling from was very, very diligent. They took no chances. Even though I followed all the necessary guidance I was pulled from the line because I forgot to remove my chain and Crucifix. I was comforted to know that if they did it to me - everyone else that was going through security was put through the same ‘diligence’. That diligence is a result of another tragedy in our nation’s history.
These incidents happen as a result of unstable people. What can be done today? I’ve wrestled with the gun debate for years. I understand the fight on both sides. Truth is no matter what position you are on the weapons issue you won’t ever get all of the weapons off the street. I firmly believe that if you take all the guns away only the criminals will have them. Just look at the illegal drug network that exists in this country. We haven’t had much success in shutting that down. Illegal Heroin overdoses are completely out of control, and we have two government agencies dedicated specifically to stop this. How are we going to control the more than 350 million known legal guns in the U.S.???
I believe we need a national diligence effort. Everywhere and everyone needs to be diligent about how to protect each other. We need to be diligent about those around us. And, until we have another solution, we need to have a diligence requirement on all social media that tracks any and all threats towards anyone or any group. Free speech – absolutely. Threatening innocent people or groups – there in lies a pretty significant outward statement that that individual is thinking of or going to take action against someone or some group. Are your civil liberties more important than any life? Perhaps we answered that in a Supreme Court decision.
We love you Pittsburgh. “Hatred cannot shatter a city made of steel.”
CEO, Founder, of Human Capital Advisors