Monday, June 13, 2016

Some Thoughts After Orlando

Monday, June 13, 2016

So you would have to be living under a rock here in the United States to not have heard about what happened in Orlando, Florida this past weekend. We Americans just set a new record for the worst mass shooting in United States history. You can find details about our sorry history of mass shootings here at NPR. We exceeded the body count of what was previously the worst mass shooting ever (the Virginia Tech massacre of 2007) by approximately 150%. Grisly, huh? And no, I am not trying to be flippant by using phrases such as 'body count'. People are very sensitive about gun violence...and rightly so. I certainly fit in such a category. But then again I think anyone traumatized by gun violence will, even if that person fully heals, never be able to fully erase the memory from his or her mind.

I have a few thoughts I want to share about this issue. And whoever happens to read this I will start by saying thank you for taking the time to do so. Not everyone cares as much as you do. When we educate ourselves we show passion for something...we show that we care. So here we go...

1) What does America wish to be known for in the world?

Right now the United States continues to set the sort of records that nobody should find compelling in a positive way. We now have a higher watershed mark regarding gun violence in this nation. Are we simply going to become a more and more progressively desensitized culture? What is the endpoint of that road? I will tell you what I imagine is at the end of that road. It's a road to oblivion. It's a road to darkness, pain, alienation, rage and separation. It's the antithesis of love, kindness, charity, patience, generosity and all the qualities of humanity that I believe make us an incredible species...rather than a base one.

2) The familiar trope about "guns don't kill people, people kill people"

I personally am bone tired of this silly saying. Excuse me but who invented guns? Humans did. And what can humans do with guns? Well, they can do many things. One thing they can do is kill other humans. Could humans kill other humans without guns. Of course....there are many ways people can do that. But what is the advantage of using a gun? It's efficient. It can be quick. And the person shooting others has a distinct strategic advantage. Tell me again, Geraldo, how are people supposed to fight back against someone standing some distance away who is spraying a room with an assault rifle? Shall they use plastic knives? Or would plastic forks be better? Or maybe if they simply run really fast and in a coordinated way a barroom full of people can take out such a person with minimal damage to their own persons. Pray tell, how realistic is it to expect that to happen?

Ask the parents of children who found their guns and then accidentally shot themselves to death if the guns magically animated themselves and then acted to slaughter their children. Does that make sense? Are you living in a fantasyland?

3) Fear is killing us.

Fear is a great adaptation of the human species...except when it isn't. Our capacity to feel fear and then heed the warning signals when we feel something fundamentally off in our gut allows us to survive any number of potentially life threatening events. But fear can also choke the very life force out of our bodies. When we live in a fearful state of mind everything can take on a menacing quality. Having not seen deep data on the demographic backgrounds of people like those who virulently support the NRA I cannot help but wonder about their histories. I suspect there must be some deep trauma in the histories of such individuals. It would explain the phenomena of grown men parading around with a gun in most any public setting for the purpose of demonstrating their manhood.

If we want to stop being such a paranoid society we need to change our diets. And I don't mean what we eat. I mean the media we consume. Turn off the portrayals of people plotting and scheming to hurt one another (also known as soap operas). Do not watch scenes of tragedies over and over again. I can still remember how the mental health community in this country advised parents against allowing their children to repeatedly watch the collapse of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. It's not healthy to repeatedly relive a tragic event.

4) We all have a responsibility 

I always liked the idea of the United Nations. I liked the idea of an organization committed to improving the lives of the people throughout the world. Am I a secular humanist? I am not sure what the proper term is to describe someone with my philosophical and spiritual beliefs.

What I do believe is that if you are walking around on the planet and depending on this Earth for your very sustenance then you have a responsibility to think about how your actions impact not just yourself but others as well. Isn't that part of being human - actually caring about others outside of yourself?

5) Oh, but it couldn't be me!

I think it can be easy to abdicate any sense of being responsible for the world we are co-creating when we ourselves have been deeply victimized. I get that. I know the feeling of victimization from very personal, scary experience. By all measure of statistical odds I myself probably should not be alive today.

And I can empathize with those who are apathetic. Afterall, it's easier to give up and succumb than it is to get up every morning and confront the dark recesses of our own lives as well as the world beyond our homes. But I think abdication doesn't fit us as a species. I want to believe we are grander than that. I do believe we are grander than that.

I believe we are here to love one another - nothing more and nothing less.

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I invite you to accompany me as I document my own journey of healing. My blog is designed to offer inspiration and solace to others. If you find it of value I welcome you to share it with others. Aloha!