America’s misguided attachment to guns, the industry’s lack of regulation must be addressed in the wake of these mass shootings, but there are other societal factors at play.
American culture fetishizes dominance, violence and fear. Take our action movies, for instance — they are vastly unlike the ones I grew up with — they include a scene of horrific, cruel and graphic violence but no nudity or lovemaking. That’s seriously effed-up. We chafe at intimacy but glorify cruelty.
Add to that, we are experiencing an epidemic of social isolation thanks in large part to to our device-dependent culture. Creating a culture of stranger paranoia — just shutting out those we deem “crazy” — could possibly makes things worse in the end, leading to more copycats.
Think about it: Devon Kelly lashed out at a church, a refuge for love, peace and comfort. Somewhere in his brain he did not connect with this common perception and detached from the innocent, well-meaning children, parents and elderly people inside. We need to ask why. We need to start by examining our own behavior toward one another when we are not in fellowship or in the company of others.
“It is undeniable that persons who have shown violent tendencies should not have access to weapons that could be used to harm themselves or others,” writes Jonathan M. Metzl, MD, PhD and Kenneth T. MacLeish, PhD in “Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and the Politics of American Firearms.” “Notions that mental illness caused any particular shooting, or that advance psychiatric attention might prevent these crimes, are more complicated than they often seem. Evidence strongly suggests that mass shooters are often mentally ill and socially marginalized. Enhanced psychiatric attention may well prevent particular crimes. … By addressing gun discord as symptomatic of deeper concerns, psychiatry could, ideally, promote more meaningful public conversations on the impact of guns on civic life.”
We must strive toward becoming a better society — stat. Make eye contact. Offer a benevolent gesture when you can. I’m not recommending you let random people crash on your couch, but consider this for a moment: Lashing out violently is rooted in paranoia of “the other.” Ask yourself, “What can I do to set an example of compassion, a sense of community?”
We need to educate, understand history, become more enlightened. The more we learn about world history and science, the more we understand how much we are alike as humans. Prevalent misconceptions about race, ability and personality call attention to the fact that we have to raise the bar higher for civilization. We can’t just continue worshiping at the altar of consumerism. Money doesn’t measure human value.
This isn’t about being politically correct. This is about survival.
Don’t chalk up violence to “human nature.” People are as wired toward compassion and altruism as aggression and cruelty. Science backs this.
Casting off people with major problems presents numerous ramifications. These aren’t personality issues or simply “evil deeds.” No one should be left to his or her own devices to plot and acquire an arsenal without attention. There are faulty misfires in the brain that can be examined with a brain scan that many insurance policies — certainly Medicaid and Medicare — do not cover. These individuals hole up in their rooms or homes in an alternate reality. This should not be happening.
Lack of care on an individual and societal level coupled with an epidemic “other” anxiety and, the biggest factor of all, the U.S.’s gun romance and lack of arms-purchasing regulation are going to create a domino effect of more alienated souls lashing out and committing copycat crimes; that is, if we don’t start making major changes to how we approach and care for one another now.
Some recommended reading and resources: