Dear Editor:

I’m compelled to interject something I hope will be meaningful in light of the recent tragic shooting in Boulder. 

I moved to Salida last September after living 10 years in Boulder, and this event really landed hard. I desperately want some sort of meaningful action to be taken in response to what has become too common in our country.  

I’m going to avoid the gun control discussion because it seems gridlocked, and will stay within my wheelhouse as a child and adolescent psychiatrist. 

A common theme among many of the people who carry out mass shootings is a simple yet profoundly damaging lack of attachment to other humans. 

Often with roots in childhood and adolescence when people conclude, based on their best evidence at the time, that they don’t belong, creating loops in their thinking and experience that seem to reinforce this belief. 

There is not room in this letter for a discussion on attachment theory, but many including myself believe that poor attachment is a common thread in all mental illness. 

Many things can go wrong in human development, thankfully most of us are resilient enough to muddle our way through if needed and at least feel enough love and attachment to others that we are not going to commit murder. 

What can be done about the complete lack of human attachment that allows someone to open fire in a grocery store or movie theater or school? 

Sometimes in the instance of horrendous parents, kids are almost hard-wired to feel a sense of distrust and distance from other humans. 

Childhood bullying can leave vicious wounds. Adolescence is a notorious time when teens are trying to find their place in this world, and some just never develop a sense of belonging. 

So what am I suggesting as a potential remedy? I’m suggesting a grassroots effort from all of us in our own communities to begin or continue living with a passionate and unwavering intention to create a sense of inclusion and belonging in our community for everybody.

Let’s accept and better yet learn to appreciate differences in the way we might live our lives, radiating genuine and heartful feelings of love and connection. 

Continue to teach our children about real love, not some false clannish love rooted in the various dogmas that surround us. 

How fast can a profound shift occur? I think of the evolution of technology over the course of my lifetime with the observation that kids today seemingly are born with more technological know-how than I have, and if that’s not true certainly have acquired it by the age of 5 or 6. 

Kids soak up their environment, and profound shifts occur relatively quickly. What better time for this than now, as we come out of an intensely challenging year of isolation. 

If anyone thinks this sounds naïve, a little pollyannaish, kind of new age or even “so Boulder”, I simply say thank you, I’m doing my best.

Joe Martindale