Dear Friends, Colleagues, and Community Members,
I celebrate many holidays over the year between my Jewish culture and my American identity. I was texting some people yesterday morning about how the 4th of July is my favorite holiday. For me, it is the combination of the day being near the start of summer, the celebration of freedom, and the wholesomeness of how we celebrate with parades, fireworks, and BBQ.
I look forward to this day every year.
I had just finished marching, more like jogging, in our small community parade with my two little girls when I heard the tragic news of the Highland Park shooting. While we were running toward our community park among children cheering with flowing red, white, and blue streamers and flags, no more than 10 miles away, our friends and neighbors were running away from bullets in horror and chaos.
On Saturday, my seven-year-old asked me, “Why does God make bad things?” I do not exactly recall what I said to her, but I might have responded differently if she had asked me today. Saddened by the lost lives, the impact on those injured, and the trauma of those who witnessed this tragedy, we are collectively pained that violence has, once again, devastated the pureness of celebration.
I am grateful to the Compass team members who helped account for the safety of all 618 Compass staff yesterday. As CEO of Compass Health Center, I always feel responsible for every staff member who makes up the Compass community. But yesterday, that took on a whole new meaning. Compass’s leadership shines daily with the complicated role of helping create an environment for impactful mental health crisis care for hundreds of people in need. Yesterday, I was equally thankful for their ability to lead the search for accounting for every Compass employee.
Like many of you, as a mental health practitioner, I spent every second of yesterday shielding my children’s innocence from what transpired, helping navigate the search for our staff, monitoring the news, and planning how Compass can help heal the trauma our community has endured. I am thankful for law enforcement’s success in capturing the suspect and the calmness and professionalism they conveyed during the process. I am grateful to all the doctors, nurses, firefighters, and paramedics who rushed to the scene and hospitals to care for those injured. I am thankful for the local media, which remained constant in reiterating the facts and helping to communicate the news in a community-minded way. I am grateful that all Compass staff members could go home safely last night. I am thankful that our team are leaders in crisis management and that we can support the mental health needs of our communities in the aftermath of this tragedy. Compass providers and clinicians are putting together community resources for immediate support that will be sent out shortly.
Unfortunately, today begins another new normal—a way of life we’ve learned, through repetition, to get used to because of gun violence. Schools are no longer a safe place for our children to relish learning. Concerts are no longer a safe place for singing. Churches and synagogues no longer feel safe for worshiping. Supermarkets and malls are no longer safe places for shopping. And it is no longer safe to celebrate the 4th of July.
As a doctor, we are used to solving complicated problems and recognizing when we are limited in capability. Today, we need to solve a real and existing problem: our country suffers from significant illness due to gun violence. We need to address homicides, suicides, and trauma because of this plague. How many “new normals” will we have to manufacture for our children and ourselves?
I pray for those directly impacted by the tragedy yesterday. I pray our community can band together to support and heal one another. The only way to combat evil is with kindness and generosity. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.” We understand the value of generosity and kindness. We will endure and rediscover the ability to celebrate. For now, we need to grieve and heal together.
With hope for healing and change,
David Schreiber, MD
CEO & Co-Founder, Compass Health Center | Compass Virtual