‘Common Sense,’ Guns, and Murder in America. Boston Alumni of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Speak Out

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Human-to-Human Service

Posted: 02/19/2018

On 2/15/18, the day after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, I posted the following on Facebook:

Wikipedia notes that Craig Nelson called Thomas Paine a “pragmatic utopian,” who deemphasized economic arguments in favor of moralistic ones, and the writer calling himself “Cato,” denounced Paine as dangerous and his ideas as violent… Despite Paine’s dissenters, Historian Gordon S. Wood described Paine’s pamphlet ‘Common Sense’ as “the most incendiary and popular pamphlet of the entire revolutionary era.”

["Economic arguments," (read GREED) is winning. The will of the American people, 'moralistic' values/arguments are losing.]

Could we ever use some common sense now…

Imagine if common sense, intelligence, and wisdom prevailed and we gathered together the brightest people from America and around the world, checked egos, greed, and party affiliations at the door, put everything on the table–including practical solutions that are working in nations around the world (Australia), and implemented policies, strategies, and laws to curtail the inevitable murders if we continue to do nothing??? This IS life and death. Unfortunately, our current leaders don’t have the courage, conviction, and vision to make that happen, and common sense has become a utopian concept in America.

The rancor, vitriol, entrenched acrimony, and divisive political paralysis that rule the day in America is perpetuating murder, it’s disgraceful, and threatening our ‘civilized’ democracy. Our inept ‘leaders’ are tragically failing the people whose interests they have sworn to represent and protect through their lack of leadership, initiative, and action. And we’re enabling them when we fail to rise up, demand change, and hold them accountable.

I understand that this is a complex problem, but ‘we’ (Americans) need to step up and respond to this tragic crisis with the ‘life and death’ sense of urgency that these repeated mass murders warrant. Complacency and inaction have never been the hallmark of “The Greatest Nation on Earth.” (We’re not, and don’t need to be.) The unequivocal, ‘plain truth’ is that the lack of response to the wanton murders is disgraceful.

Tangible, thoughtful, realistic action items and solutions welcome, please. Thank you.

In the comment thread that followed I included this post from the Live The Hero Blog. A few noteworthy quotes from the piece:

“Heroism, as depicted in great legends from around the world, from ancient myth to modern accounts, gives us a blueprint for how to act in the wake of crisis. The stories of real and fictional heroes are meant to remind us that heroism is about taking action and seeking solutions rather than succumbing to despair.”

“Please don’t think I’m suggesting that everyday heroism is the only solution to mass murder. I’m not trying to be simplistic. Like any human behavioral phenomenon, this is a complicated crisis. This issue certainly encompasses mental health, gun control, and other potential causes. These things should be part of the complex conversation.”

“But the legend of the Gordian Knot teaches us that no matter how complex an issue, we have the ability to make the “simple” decisions to act and strive toward solutions. Life may be complex, but deciding to seek positive change can be a small yet powerful step in a better direction.”

I also included a quote posted on facebook by my friend, Justin Manjourides, that was included in an email from the Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health regarding the Parkland shooting:

“As many of you know, federal funding for gun violence research has been stifled for two decades. This research could lead to a greater understanding of the causes of gun violence and ways it can be prevented.”

Following that quote, Justin’s post continued:

“So whether you want congress to ban all guns or whether you think this is a mental health issue, surely we can all agree that more research into WHY these mass shooting events occur can help us answer this question and prevent future tragedies.

We should all be contacting our congressional representatives and demanding an end to the restrictions placed on public funding for gun violence research in this country.

Despite these restrictions, my friend and colleague Matthew Miller, has been able to conduct meaningful research in this area which consistently shows that access to firearms is positively associated with higher rates of homicides and suicides. Please read it.

Justin is a graduate of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

My friend, Leah Goldman posted the following powerful, passionate piece on LinkedIn that I included in my facebook thread:

I am a Marjory Stoneman Douglas kid

I am from Parkland. I went to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. These two facts used to be obscure “deep cuts” of Florida geography after saying I grew up in South Florida. Now, since last Wednesday, my hometown and my alma mater are front page news and a staple of the 24-hour news cycle. It is surreal. It is heartbreaking. But I know that if real change is coming, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High is the catalyst to make it happen.

Why am I writing this?

• I am mobilizing my network.

• I’m letting you know that you are connected to this community.

• I’m telling you this is a “whole life” (yes, even professional) issue.

Why is Parkland different?

Well, because it isn’t. Parkland is a place where families move “for the schools.” It’s basically a suburb of a suburb. You, my network, live in these towns or perhaps think about the not-so-distant future when your kids will be in middle school and you’d like to live somewhere like this.

But it also is. MSD molds incredible people. It is a foundation shared by my friends – doctors, educators, engineers, lawyers, tech leaders and so many other amazing individuals – that provided us with the tools we needed to go on to build paths to all make change. We took challenging AP class loads, and were given opportunities to become debaters, band members, athletes, “mathletes,” and so much more… because this school values hard work and community and the students, teachers, and parents reinforce those principles.

My education at Marjory Stoneman Douglas profoundly shaped who I am today. In fact, both my husband [Justin Manjourides] and I went to high school there and attribute much of our paths through college and beyond to the time we spent in (and out) of those classrooms.

Why do you care?

This tragedy obviously hits us emotionally. “What if it was my kid’s school?” “How will those students and teachers move forward?” “What do we do to protect ourselves?”

But now is the time for more than emotion. It is a time for action! We have a national crisis that must be addressed.

• There is a clear outcome that must be delivered. I know from my years working with Fortune 500 companies transforming businesses to perform, we start with defining the outcome we want, determine the root causes and value drivers, and then go and do the work. Move the “big rocks” and cut the “low hanging fruit.” Right now our outcome must be ensuring that students are safe in their schools. Our rocks are the quagmire of policy and a battle of whose “rights” are more sacred. The low hanging fruit is communicating, engaging, and taking action… even if the action is writing your legislators or a LinkedIn article!

• This is a pipeline and employee engagement issue. Students are impacted, and they are now legitimately passionate about their right to learn safely. And they will be your new hires in 5-10 years. I read my network’s posts… we care about engaging our employees, adapting our cultures to best work across generations, and motivating our organizations to constantly grow. Well, guess what, this is a huge population that will be voting and working within the next few years and we must be their champions.

• We have the power to change. We are responsible for creating and growing the great digital ecosystem that is central to our lives. Yes, WE are! My network is full of influencers – executives, consultants, founders, strategists, coaches, and communicators. We are trained to problem solve and create change. We vote with our ballots, our dollars, and our social engagement. We are empowered to do something to change the course of history.

So… What do we do?

In the hours and days since these murders, I have been humbled and proud of the action I see on Facebook. From alumni mobilizing support and action to friends connecting and donating, the view of Parkland from here in Boston is hopeful. But on LinkedIn the stories I see are about “hot job skills” “risk taking” and “communicating”. Let’s take a break from discussing conferences, white papers, and points of view. Let’s mobilize our networks to act and make Marjory Stoneman Douglas High the last mass school shooting in America.

“You have to stand up for some things in this world.” – Marjory Stoneman Douglas

• Contact our leaders. Regardless of our political leanings, we can agree that school shootings are bad and we need to hold our leaders accountable. Go to www.usa.gov/elected-officials and let our leaders know that we demand more from them.

• Demand sensible gun policy. We must ensure that dangerous people do not have access to guns. See how your state stacks up and take action.

I write this today to let you know that YOU are connected to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. I am your connector. Together we can amplify the message of these incredibly brave students and really be the change we want to see in the world.

Leah can be reached at leah.m.goldman@gmail.com.

Thank you for your intensity, empathy, compassion, and for sharing, Leah and Justin. Thank you for including me, and in turn, everyone reading this, in your network. We’re just getting started…

Please share this post if inspired to do so. I will edit this post and add recommended action items and events for those who are moved to participate. Please email me at Patrick@servernotservant.com with action-item suggestions. Our government is failing us. It’s time to speak up, mobilize, take and demand action. Thank you.


One Response to “‘Common Sense,’ Guns, and Murder in America. Boston Alumni of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Speak Out”

  1. Justin Manjourides says:

    Patrick,
    Thank you for posting this. And thank you for connecting more people to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High. As we have seen over the past few days, the students at MSD are inspiring and they deserve our support and our action.

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