An 11-Year-Old Boy Responds to Gun Violence

While the most recent data show that the number of gun-related murders remains well below the 1993 peak, gun violence continues to be a serious problem in the USA, a Pew Research Center report reveals. Over the past several years, as the number of murders has been trending back upward, so have the number of mass shootings.

Ruben Martinez

One such recent mass attack happened in El Paso, Texas where 22 people were killed and dozens wounded. A grand jury formally indicted the suspect on September 12. However, well before the indictments were handed down, just one day after the massacre, Ruben Martinez went into action. With a philanthropic heart, the 11-year-old created and launched the “#ElPasoChallenge.”

Martinez is asking people to commit 22 good deeds, one for each of the deceased victims. He says that acts of kindness can include things such as “mowing someone’s lawn, visiting a nursing home, donating for families in need, taking flowers to the hospital, or writing a letter to someone telling them how great they are.”

Rose Gandarilla tweeted about her son’s #ElPasoChallenge:

Gandarilla told CNN why her son developed the #ElPasoChallenge:

He was having some trouble dealing with what happened. I explained to him that we could not live in fear and that people in our community are caring and loving. I told him to try and think of something he could do to make El Paso a little better.”

To consider his mom’s suggestion, Martinez went to his room, brainstormed some ideas, and settled on the #ElPasoChallenge. He also came up with an idea for his first act of kindness. He told his mom that he wanted to pick up and deliver dinner to the first responders who were still at the crime scene. That’s exactly what they did.

Martinez’s mom said, “He seems to be doing better and says that hopefully, the world will be a better place with all these random acts of kindness.”

The word “philanthropy” means love of humankind. Ruben Martinez is a true philanthropist.

Philanthropy is a learned behavior. Thanks to good parenting, Martinez learned some valuable lessons:

  1. By engaging in it, philanthropy can make us feel good at the same time we are helping others feel better.
  2. Everybody has the ability to be philanthropic, even an 11-year-old.
  3. When darkness descends, we each have the ability, even the responsibility, to shine a bit of light. We may not be in a position to affect massive change, but we certainly can make life just a bit better for ourselves, our communities, and the world.
  4. Our acts of philanthropy can inspire others.

Now, we have a choice to make: Will we be inspired by Ruben Martinez or not? Will we commit to performing acts of kindness?

… And a little child will lead them.” – Isaiah 11:6.

Yes, gun violence can make us afraid, angry, and upset. Nevertheless, we need not feel powerless. Like Martinez, we, too, can embrace the #ElPasoChallenge. Or, we can tailor it for our own communities or broaden it into the #KindnessChallenge. Regardless of how we refer to it, let’s all find ways we can be more kind.

As we seek ways to be kinder, let’s give thought to those who are hurting and might be at risk of committing suicide. This is National Suicide Prevention Month. In the USA, 60 percent of gun deaths are suicides. If you or a loved one need help, call the national lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (available 24 hours every day). Or, chat online.

My closing thought, prayer, for you is:

May you be happy.

May you be healthy.

May you be safe.

May you live life with ease.

That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?

2 Comments to “An 11-Year-Old Boy Responds to Gun Violence”

  1. Well done.

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