I'm Afraid to Go to Public Places

By Dr. Robert Wallace

August 19, 2019 6 min read

DR. WALLACE: The horrific mass shootings recently, here in El Paso, Texas, and in Dayton, Ohio, by two different shooters, have caused me and my family to avoid large department stores and other establishments in our city. I'm 17 and will be in the 12th grade soon. I'm also concerned about all of the murders and shootings at schools in our country. My parents said that all of these shootings in schools and other locales where people gather together never happened when they were teens. Why is this happening now?

I'm really concerned when I'm in the city and part of a large gathering. I can't figure out why any human being would be so upset that he would want to kill as many innocent human beings as possible, knowing that he, too, could be killed.

Please, give me your thoughts on these despicable occurrences. How can I live a normal life now that this has happened? — Maria, El Paso, Texas

MARIA: You are quite right to be shocked and deeply saddened by the horrific event in your city and the one in Dayton as well. These events stem from a confluence of factors, some of which did not exist during the days your parents were teenagers. Social media, smartphones, dark web chat rooms and related modern inventions did not exist back then. In every era, there have been people with the propensity to become quite unstable, but this problem has been greatly exacerbated via our present modern age. We as a society will make further adjustments over time — hopefully quickly — to mitigate these problems as much as possible. At least we are very aware of the problem, and schools across our nation have instituted preventive measures to address this.

As to your point about being worried to go to large stores and public gatherings: Please, take comfort in the fact that the risk of any one individual in our society being "in the wrong place at the wrong time" and caught up in an event such as those two you referenced is truly quite small.

Life is full of risks; we must take them regularly as we go about our days. Every time a person drives or is a passenger in an automobile, there is risk. The same is true of air travel. Mother Nature also presents us with risk via tornadoes, earthquakes and typhoons, to name a few. The odds of being victimized in a mass public event are roughly the same as the odds of being struck by lightning. We all know lightning is dangerous, but we venture outside nearly every day of our lives.

I do have a suggestion that could possibly help to ease your mind of the worry you are presently feeling. This suggestion is to be as kind as you can be to every single person you meet. Be helpful and seek to find the good in every individual. Smile and say hello to people you meet or who cross your path. Take notice of others and focus on the good that exists all around us. Many people these days live lives of virtual isolation, looking at a video screen in silence rather than engaging with those around them. Take comfort with your fellow citizens. The more you engage with them in a friendly positive manner, the better you will feel.


DR. WALLACE: May I shed some light on the problem a girl who wrote to you has with her mother? This particular girl said her mother couldn't accept a compliment. Well, I'm a mother who is the same way, and maybe I can help this young lady understand things a little better. My grandparents raised me, as both my parents died when I was a young child. My grandparents never cared what I did as long as I didn't get into trouble. If I brought home a report card with all A's, nothing was said. But also, neither was anything said if the report card was all D's, with an occasional F tossed in. They just signed it and gave it back to me to take back to the teacher at school.

If I cooked something special at home, nothing was said. If I dressed up and wore a little makeup, then they responded saying my clothes were wrong and I had too much makeup on.

I think you get the idea. It was that way with everything I did; either it was wrong, or nothing was said. This continued until I got married. I love compliments, but I never learned how to accept them, as I never feel I deserve them.

I thought your advice was right on. Even though her mom doesn't enjoy hearing compliments, if she's like me, she actually loves hearing them a lot more than she'll ever say or admit to. So, young lady, keep giving your mother compliments: They likely really do mean a lot to her. — Mother Who Knows, via email

MOTHER WHO KNOWS: Thanks for your firsthand view on this topic. Whenever a compliment is warranted, absolutely give it. I have yet to meet the person who did not enjoy being praised. Some people are gracious and say, "Why, thank you," while others remain stone-faced. But deep down, they all appreciate having nice things said about them; it's human nature.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: Skitterphoto at Pixabay

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