NEW ORLEANS, LA — A week after a senseless shooting injured 20 people on Mother’s Day, the conveyor of peace, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, arrived in the Crescent City with his message of hope. Several conference events and discussions revolve around that message.
On the first day of the conference, one discussion was led by a group of documentarians who produced “Shell Shocked,” which is focused on the growing problem of gun violence in New Orleans.
“We showed an abbreviated version of the film,” John Richie, Director and Writer of Shell Shocked, said. “After the film we had a panel discussion that included two of the kids who were featured in the documentary, a mother whose son was killed, and a monk from India who came in for the conference.”
Much like the film, the panel focused less on the problem of gun violence and more on the possible solutions.
“We divide ourselves on by our differences and that keeps us from being able to interact together and become the community we are,” he said. “I think the film and panel allowed people to put their guard down a bit and feel like there is something we can do to solve these problems. These are manmade problems and that means that there are solutions.”
The panel began by addressing the Mother’s Day shooting, which injured 20 people.
“We discussed it at the beginning of the showing because it was something that was on everyone’s mind and it was something that needed to be addressed,” Richie said. “I talked about it and noted that if you ask anybody who lives here, they will tell you that we think this is one of the greatest cities in the entire world. They will then tell you it’s because of our sense of community; it’s the way we talk to each other and how our families extend beyond our own. The irony of what happened on Sunday is that what started out as a community event was interrupted with violence.”
Roughly 70 people attended the screening and panel discussion. Richie was encouraged by the response.
“At the conference there were five other workshops. I think we had the biggest turnout. People were there from all over the country,” he said. “So many people were asking to see the whole film. I think a lot of people want to help, but they don’t’ really know how. That’s really what this film addresses.”
Today, the group will present the same message at 6:00 p.m. at First Street United Methodist located at 2309 Dryades Street. However, tonight’s panel will be a bit different.
“The panel this time will be made up solely of mother’s who are featured in the film,” Richie said. “It does not have as much to do with the Mother’s Day shooting as it does the Dalai Lama’s emphasis on motherhood.”
Richie said the group has several screenings planned in the near future, including several in Washington with law makers and advocates. He also noted that he’s currently working to hold screenings in every major city in Louisiana by the end of the summer.