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The Symptom, the Disease

How many shootings are we up to now? I lost track a long time ago. Too many is not a number you can count on your fingers.

Everyone has an opinion as to why they happen. Too many guns, mental health problems, violent video games, and so on. The noise and arguing will run hot for a week or two and then we will go on.

Yet the answer is right in front of us. The answer is right there in the arguments themselves. Our world is alone and afraid, constantly running on adrenaline, scared of confronting even the obvious – especially the obvious.

How many more?

Of the many things which school shootings are called, one which you never hear is “symptom.” They are horrific enough in and of themselves that they seem like the disease, the way in which far too many people die.

When we get to underlying causes, however, we see the symptom s of the true disease play out in a different way. We can’t do this, we can’t do that. We should look at this, we should look at that. Shouting past each other through tears we never hear a thing. No one listens.

No one listened to the shooters, either, I’ll guess.

The latest excuse is that this is all about mental health. Certainly, it is, in a way. But millions of young women suffer from mental health issues and they rarely pick up a gun and shoot. Millions of people around the world, some with access to guns, have mental health issues and kill no one. My own brother had serious mental health issues and he quietly killed himself, taking no one out with him.

Men, especially white men, are particularly alone, disconnected, useless, and utterly lacking in any sense of belonging other than to themselves.

We must be in this together, or we are not in this.

The answer is always right in front of us yet we will never listen. A disconnected world is going to fall apart. It will fall apart in many different ways, some of them more noticeable. Marriages will not last and families will drift away. People become angry and bitter and seek to take it out on someone, somewhere, whom they really do not know.

Sometimes it’s with nasty words, sometimes it’s with bullets.

There is an underlying sickness in America today. I don’t doubt that something dramatic has to happen to break the cycles and save as many lives as possible. Gun control of a kind may be necessary just to pull back for a moment and stop, look, think – and actually listen.

But we are far from anything like that.

Tears after Sandy Hook. Tears after all daily news.

Meanwhile, another day means another shooting. To compare them to a sneeze, the symptom of a virus, seems to trivialize the horror of burying your 14 year old child, knowing they died in a puddle of their own blood and fear. But this is definitely one more symptom of a culture which has come to cultish worship of selfishness and in so doing disconnected everyone from everything.

The result is that people fall down. Things fall apart. Children fall as they are shot.

How many more have to die before it stops? The only limit is the total number of people alone and afraid, selfish and isolated, disconnected from the world. If we don’t fix the underlying cultural problem of selfishness and disconnection there will be more tragedies. We will keep falling in so many different ways.

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4 thoughts on “The Symptom, the Disease

  1. Sorry about your brother. I lost a friend in 1981, age 31, killed by a black junkie for $5 with a home made zip-gun. The society is not only disconnected, but also DISAFFECTED. Not a mental health issue. If we can give billions in foreign aid, we can certainly afford armed guards in the schools. In Israel the teachers are all armed. They also have 2 years mandatory military service. It may not stop the problem, but assault weapons should be banned. I thought that was done years ago. Also, like the signs of suicide (SOS) it is often the case that there are advance warnings from the people who do these types of shootings. We have to ask ourselves why so many of the shooters are age contemporary…..adolescents and young adults.

  2. I remember in the late nineties listening to a Westminster lecture on MPR radio. It was by a researcher, who I cannot remember now, but, who had analyzed the culture differences of schools. The smoking gun was the dramatic and horrifying difference when a school class grade exceeded 150 or when a school total student body population exceeded 500.
    It was in response to the Columbine shooting which was the ‘first’ in this modern trend.
    I have always felt somewhat frustrated that this brilliant person, who I cannot recall now, and his insight has been lost in the succeeding years as shooting after shooting after shooting come in schools too big, or by students, markedly mentally ill and also by-products of large class sized school cultures. It is genetic, also it’s environment, it’s trained response. We need a comprehensive answer to this continued problem, the price to do nothing is just too high.

  3. Pingback: This Time is Different | Barataria - The work of Erik Hare

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