“The science is clear – relationships are at the heart of happiness.” — Misti Burmeister

What is the key to ending all the shootings that currently plague our country and have people living in fear?

Is it restricted gun control?

Probably not.

Eliminating violent video games?


Perhaps the opposite – no gun control and rewards for playing more games?

Of course not. That’s silly!

So what, then, will eliminate such devastation? Such hatred? Such violence?

One answer came to me while sitting at my kitchen table, with a plate of deliciously hot food in front of me that I could not eat.

Just as we were sitting down, my friend, Monalisa, got a phone call from her grandmother in Panama.

“Please, go ahead and eat,” she encouraged me. Then she put the call on speakerphone and began taking tiny bites as she sang the most beautiful music to her grandmother.

Apparently, her 90-year-old grandmother was in the process of receiving an injection. “Listening to my voice calms her,” Monalisa explained. “When she relaxes, it’s easier for the nurses to find her veins.”

Monalisa patiently and lovingly sang three beautiful songs for her grandmother, who would chime in and sing along at various intervals. I sat there in awe, wishing I knew Spanish.

This was the day after the mall shootings here in Columbia, Maryland. Before Monalisa came over, I’d been reading posts on Facebook about how this incident was due to violent video games and gun control laws.

As I sat there, transfixed in utter peace and joy, I wondered if this was at the core of the cure?

Beyond the beauty of the song, and the family connection, was a deep, deep caring.

Suffering perpetuates suffering. A suffering shooter leads to suffering victims, and naturally the fear spreads.

Somewhere beneath the anger and righteousness of all involved lies a real need for caring, connection, and community – more so than most want to believe.

It’s easier to point to the “things” that cause such behavior. What would happen if we – collectively – opted to let our lunches get cold and chose to sing instead? If we slow down long enough, will we see how many people are in dire need of human connections and love?

Would we, for example, put our freakin’ phones down long enough to acknowledge and appreciate the people who scan our groceries? Would we pay for a perfect stranger to get experiences they need to live their dreams? Would we offer to help others just because it’s the right thing to do – for them, for society at large, and even for ourselves?

Would we consciously create (or shift) work environments for our teams, ensuring people have a reason to connect and a reason to care? The science is clear – relationships are at the heart of happiness. Disconnected, unhappy people shoot each other. Happy people, who know they are part of a community that cares for them, are only dangerous with their hugs.

Join the Conversation:  How do you think we, as a community, can shift our culture away from violence and back to connection?

Misti Burmeister, best-selling author of From Boomers to Bloggers: Success Strategies Across GenerationsHidden Heroes and Power Suck.

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