Yet another senseless shooting. This stuff boggles my mind. What is it? Why? Listen I have been tempted numerous times to jump over the counter at the DMV, and grab by the collar the hapless clerk who insists I owe 350 dollars in unpaid parking tickets, and……. Ok, I digress. Thing is, while I may want to jump over the counter to rough up the DMV clerk, there is something in my brain that talks me out of doing something so stupid, let alone marching into the local movie theatre with an AK47 and having a field day at the expense of totally innocent people. And that is the part that gets me the most, when another person’s garbage spills over onto the rest of us. I have said to someone before, “while you’re busy fucking up your own dream, don’t fuck up mine”. Hey you have things going on in your head that are making you grumble? Fine, do it over there. Find a nice place in the woods to look up at the trees and shake your fist at the sky damning the Earth , God, your co-workers, your ex-girlfriend or wife, or the hapless DMV worker, and then blow your brains out right there leaning up against a tree so at least the coyotes will have something to eat. Do not, I repeat, do not walk into an air-conditioned movie theatre on a hot summer night and kill innocent children just doing what kids do on a hot summer night; go to the fucking movies.
I have seen this movie(no pun intended) over and over again ever since the famed “Postal” shooting back in 1986. 14 innocent postal employees killed by some pissed off for one reason or another douche-bag. Again, head to the forest, feed the coyotes. Back then this was as foreign to me and, I believe society as a hole, as Islamic laws against adultery are to The United States Supreme Court. However, sadly, this type of thing is becoming common place. And the victims and targets are becoming increasingly more innocent. The Sandy Hook school shooting for instance. A shooting one of my family members was a first responder to, and to this day carries the scars of what went down there. If one could possibly, at any miniscule level, justify a random shooting, looking at the “Postal” shooting, perhaps you could argue that at the very least, the intended targets may have done something directly to the shooter to provoke his outrage. Again, even if they did, tough shit, head to the forest, and feed the coyotes. But to walk into a school and shoot dozens of 10 year olds? I mean…….let me take a minute to get my shit back together after pondering that thought…..
Two of the more recent shootings seemed to have had clear motivating factors; race and Islamic fundamentalism. We could spend some time defining and dissecting each one of those factors, but instead I think one should solve for x, or the common denominator between the two, which is : Hate. Hate is what drives these people. Hate, and hate alone. It’s a funny word, that has so much gravity. The word can be innocent enough as “hating chocolate ice cream”, or it can carry the weight of the world and on its back the lives of 14 innocent postal workers, dozens of innocent school children, or 9 innocent South Carolinian church goers.
Whenever these shootings occur the first thing people starting screaming about is gun control. And admittedly after this recent shooting that’s the first thing that popped into my mind as well. I decided to look into some of the data. Some interesting facts I found where:
- The United States has the highest rate of gun owner ship in the world with an average ownership of 88 out of 100 people .*
- Given the above statistic we still are far from the top of the list of firearm murder rate coming in at 28, with a rate of 2.97 murders by gun per 100,000 people*. Honduras is the winner of this contest with a whopping 68.43 murders by gun per 100,000 people*. Interestingly Honduras’ gun ownership rate is significantly lower with only 6.2 out of a 100 owning guns. What does this tell us? Hondurans are crazy , and, good shooters.
- Mass shooting occurrences are drastically and shockingly compressing the time line between now and 1982. Check it out, it’s scary : http://assets.motherjones.com/politics/2014/10/harvard_timeline_1260.png
- Virtually all mass shooters are male and are white. 97% male and 79% white . **
Maybe, the answers can be found in admitting that it is hate and hate alone that is the problem, not the guns, or the laws, or the republicans or the democrats , or the NRA, or Smith and Wesson. Hate is the problem. And at the risk of sounding like some new age utopian , sandal wearing, hippy freak, (I could be guilty of being some, if not all of those things), perhaps we need to start talking about how to become a more compassionate people. A less divisive people. Polarization on many levels is crippling this country, and fueling the hate, which fuels mass shooters. Read that again. Polarization breeds hate, which fuels mass shootings. It is that simple. We need not look any further. Our goal as a civilized society should be to reduce polarization among us, and thus, reduce the hate among us. Social media has become a huge tool for polarizing us. Take a look at a typical Facebook feed. Count the number of pathetic MEMES that are created explicitly to divide. Count the number of posts by people criticizing the life choices and ideals of other people with such incredulity , you may want to double check what’s in their gun lockers. And then, count the number of MEMES or posts that foster compassion, and love, and that the differences among us are normal, and we can in fact co-exist despite them.
Think about this. Think about it and try and make some changes. Small changes can do big things. A small stone tossed into a pond creates larger and larger ripples spreading outward. Think about the slightest, smallest, littlest thing you can do to reduce the polarization in your house, your place of employment, the car ride to the beach, your Facebook friends, or amongst strangers on the bus. These small things matter. And they may go unnoticed, but they matter. Make changes, someone will notice, even if that someone is just you.