Dakota Student

A creative solution to America’s gun violence

Bilal Suleiman, Opinion Columnist

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The gun control debate was complicated enough. Then the Las Vegas shooting happened, followed by too many school shootings, and now the citizens of the United States are demanding action. Some call for arming teachers or hiring more police officers and security guards, as if that would stop a psychopath. Others call for stricter regulations on guns, as if that would stop someone who is determined to get their hands on a gun. Many have realized these proposed solutions are the equivalent of putting a Band-Aid on an open wound and instead started calling America’s gun violence epidemic a “mental health issue.”

While I do agree with the sentiment that it is a mental health issue, that still leaves us at square one with no solutions. Now we know the problem, but the issue of mental health is such a unique problem that it’s laughable to expect the politicians to get this one right when they can barely keep the government running. That’s why I’m proposing a creative solution that would not only help to improve our overall mental health, it’d make us all nicer to each other as well.

Everyone should be required to work at a restaurant at least once. Working at a restaurant can teach real life lessons in a way that sticks, unlike school which often goes in one ear and out the other. It could be a part of school curriculum to work at a restaurant for a summer in order to graduate. It could be like mandatory military service, only at McDonald’s instead. Before you ready your counter arguments on why this is a nonsensical idea, hear me out.

Working at a restaurant is a brutal teacher of life. Hunger brings out the worst in people, and there’s nothing quite like dealing with a hungry, angry person. All rational sense goes out the door and they proceed to verbally assault the employee as if they are personally responsible for messing up their food. It’s not fun standing there, being forced to take it while you apologize profusely for something you didn’t do. Once you’ve been in this situation, however, you learn to have some patience and empathy. Being able to control your emotions is a necessary life skill and nothing teaches you to bite your tongue better than working in food service. It makes you a nicer person to others in general because you realize that the extra effort it takes to be rude just isn’t worth the energy.

Working at a restaurant makes you a more humble person because you spend all day catering to people’s demands. Being bossed around doesn’t feel good, but being bossed around for low pay feels even worse. It’s everyone’s goal to be the boss and order others around, not the opposite. A summer of long hours and low pay would help tame the inflated egos and sense of entitlement among some of us. It’s this entitlement that causes people’s rudeness to come out when one little thing doesn’t go exactly their way. Can you imagine if someone with an ego like Donald Trump was put in a position like that? It would instantly humble and exemplify how insignificant you and your worries are in the grand scheme of life and the universe.

This would be tough to regulate and probably not very realistic. But so are the ideas being thrown around Capitol Hill, such as requiring students to wear clear backpacks to school. Instead of providing students and faculty the assurance of the safety of their environment, they added more fuel to the already fiery debate of gun control. The lessons in humility and empathy that results from working in food service would make more of an impact than anything that the lawmakers on Capitol Hill have come up with since these senseless tragedies.

Bilal Suleiman is a columnist for Dakota student. He can be reached at [email protected].

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A creative solution to America’s gun violence