I was shocked and saddened by my reaction to news of yet another school shooting. Before outrage, grief or compassion for those who lost their lives or someone they loved, I felt a moment of hopeless, powerless RESIGNATION. When did I become anything less than hysterical about the senseless loss of human lives? When did I stop feeling terrified at the thought that random violence could, indeed, erupt anywhere, anytime? When did my empathy for the victims of violence get preempted by a fear that we may be losing the fight to treat some of the most damaged, most dangerous members of our society? Regardless of one’s position on the gun control debate, most people would agree that using weapons to vent our anger or wreak vengeance for society’s slights against us is an extreme response born of hopelessness, rage and mental illness. As mental health providers, we often sit with people as they experience the range of human emotions, some of them incredibly painful or scary or toxic. We teach our clients tools to use to cope with overwhelming feelings, challenging situations and dysfunctional relationships. But like Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the mountain, we invariably see some of our suggestions pushed aside, or discover a client who we thought was capable of certain growth is unable to move beyond a certain spot. Usually, we take these realities in stride; we know that growth and change can have their own timetables, and that each client has the right and responsibility to choose a life path, free from our preferences or values. But when mental illness causes the death of an innocent person, or even the suicide of a violent offender, we are left with more questions than answers. Could we have done more? Was this violence predictable? Is the fix in stronger laws and punishments or in prevention efforts? These complicated realities don’t fit neatly onto any one path or rhetoric or politics. They certainly will not be eradicated by the passage of a law or the emergence of a new drug on the marketplace. But what I do know for sure is that we cannot grow complacent, we can’t pass off these tragedies as the new “reality” of living in an age abounding with technology, violent video games or permissive parenting. We must be willing to continue the dialogue about how to best help people with severe mental illness. We need to make it easier, cheaper and less stigmatizing to seek out help when we are troubled. We must invest more in research and testing to determine why some people choose violence and how to mitigate the vulnerabilities to these choices. We must never lose our outrage, our belief in our world’s right to live peacefully and without fear, our compassion for those who struggle, are hurting, who want to give up.I know it is I. The moments when I feel most powerless, most unable to imagine something different for my world, that I must summon Thr strength to resist resignation. Be the change you would like to see in the world, Gandhi said. For me,mthat means touching my grief, feeling my sadness and anger, choosing not to dehumanize a suffering soul who makes a horrible choice. It may be a minute step, it may not create more than a ripple in the Universes energy field, but it is a choice I CAN make. And in choosing, I move from the shadow of powerlessness into the light of my own power.