It Goes Deeper Than Guns


EVENTS LIKE THE Douglas massacre always evoke strong emotions that end up in further waging of the ongoing debate about gun control. The way I see it, making it more difficult to obtain weapons – even just assault weapons -would create a more challenging process for folks who want to kill, but it will not change who they are and, therefore, what they accomplish.

The 9/11 attacks were done with box cutters. When a human psyche has become obsessed with killing, for whatever reason, having motive will always lead to finding method.

So then, if our problem isn’t the availability of guns, what is it? Unfortunately, in my opinion, the true answer, which is the only way of truly dealing with the problem, is that in these times, it has become easy for people to become completely unrooted from basic appreciation of life and their personal frustrations ramp up to psychotic, absurdly overblown and tragically violent levels, acting out of a psyche with no longer any conscious awareness or genuine tie to what’s generally accepted as reality.

Yesterday, my daughter, aged 20, sent me an article about an eleven-year-old boy from her own middle school that contained a crudely hand printed threatening note to the vice principal, warning that he was going to bring guns to school and kill everyone. When I think of my own childhood, aggression on that level would have been unimaginable. It wasn’t even in scary movies. But now it is a recurring process. The question isn’t “What’s wrong with these kids.” It’s really “Why is it so easy today for kids to become homicidally insane?” What is it, in other words, about the way life works that now allows for this monstrous morphing to happen? To blame guns is simplistic and does not address the entirety of the issue. I do, in truth, think our gun laws have no integrity and are a function of the way lobbies work in this country and would love that to change. But would it make this problem go away? I really don’t think so.

The answer would have to be doing a multidisciplinary, long-term study of our culture, using other less violent cultures, and perhaps even our own when it was less crazy and see what the data turns up. What are the factors in this present USA that facilitate the process of producing young mass murderers? When turning this big mess into an interdisciplinary set of variables, we can begin to learn what changes need to be made to move us into a more truly peace-loving culture. America’s shadow is unimaginably dark, despite our heroic self-image.

So, two things would have to happen that haven’t yet: There must be a willingness to do the work to come to a more empirically supported understanding of WHAT OUR CULTURE DOES TO MAKE PEOPLE PSYCHOTICALLY HOMICIDAL, and we have to be willing to accept and follow the results of such a meta-study. The way I see it, other than hopefully waiting for things to move naturally into a gentler place and doing a lot of spiritual work are the only things we can lean on in lieu of that answer.


As a hopeful addendum, I will say that I do think the spiritual work is helpful and gives us something to do that can begin to change the world, butterfly effect style. It can also provide something valuable to people who are now ready to change a culture that isn’t ready itself. And it’s good karma!

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