Last week Portland was hit with a sad day. Another school shooting at a high school. My heart is heavy thinking about how there appears to be no end in sight to these acts of violence. I wonder if we will become desensitized as a culture to these acts as they are growing in numbers, or will something change. And whose job is it to make the change? What is the solution? Is there a solution? How do we change something that has now become engrained into our culture.
I hear so many theories as to what the problem is. It’s guns. It’s lack of parenting. It’s mental health. It’s bullying. It’s heavy metal. It’s drugs. It’s poverty. It’s a lack of values. It’s violence in the media. It’s the schools. But there isn’t a single answer. It can be a mixture of any and all of these things and more.
I try to picture in my mind, the profile of someone capable of mass murders toward an innocent population. I picture someone socially awkward. Someone desensitized to violence. I see someone who lacks the skill of empathy. Someone who lacks self-awareness. I see someone who thinks with distortions, who uses thinking errors. Someone who lacks emotional intelligence. I see someone in so much emotional pain they can no longer tolerate the world as is.
How can someone with such qualities be stopped? How can someone with these qualities be helped? How can someone with such qualities be recognized before they have crossed the point of no return? What kind of prevention need be in place, to if not altogether stop this violence, to at least decrease the incidences?
We live in a society full of opportunities for solitude and lack of community. We are friendly with one another (most of the time?), but we tend to keep to our own and focus in on ourselves. We don’t get involved in the lives of others, because it’s their business. And, we don’t want anyone in our business, so even more reason to not inquire in the lives of others. Plus, it’s a crazy amount of work to be involved in community. If you have a full-time job, have kids, and have a home, than to try and socialize and have hobbies is exhausting. No, it’s easier to just keep to yourself, your close family, your close friends and not get involved.
Further, we live in a society of such independence that we don’t need each other. We offer each other services we exchange for simple monetary purposes, and besides the polite small talk we may encounter at said exchange of services, we remain anonymous. We can really go through our daily lives truly independent without having to communicate, without having to connect, without ever knowing each other.
And our technology allows us to support such independence at even more isolated levels. Faster, cheaper, more convenient: the goals of this society. Our technology changes so quickly we have no time to even form proper etiquette. From cell phones, to smart phones, from kindles to ipads, from myspace to facebook and pinterest. Ask a teenager to put their smartphones away for 45 minutes and they tell you how “cray cray” you are. So even if we want to connect with each other, with our children, we have to compete with technology.
I don’t think there is a simple solution to ending school shootings. It will take time, it will take people feeling fed up, it will take a willingness to be less independent and more community-oriented. As is true with everything, the blaming does not help. Blaming is another thinking error that serves to prevent change and accountability. We all contribute to this society whether we are activists or simply go with the flow. Not sure it will help, but in my own life, I will work towards being less of a stranger, less of an acquaintance, and build a wider community for my children.