VIOLENCE IS PSYCHOTIC**… Regardless of the Religion of the Perpetrator, Regardless of the Sexual Orientation of the Victim
And yet another “senseless” atrocity. And yet another episode of epic violence.
And another opportunity to sink deeper into our denial.
The media prepares its tidal wave of over-coverage. The politicians sharpen their swords of banality. The analysts and pundits of the Right and the Left will go on frothing at the mouth. Solemn ceremonies will be arranged.
And none of it will get us any closer to truly understanding the problem, nor any closer to a solution.
The Liberals and Progressives will fight for stronger gun controls. The Conservatives will fight for increased gun ownership. They do this, knowing full well that neither measure will change what lies in people’s hearts.
Years ago, I had a friend who wanted to kill the President of the United States. She would get amazingly worked up whenever she saw his picture, or heard anything about his policies. She would actually plan how to carry it out, how the Secret Service would let her get closer to the President because she was a woman.
Her violence had nothing to do with the President’s policies (note that I did not tell you which President she intended to assassinate). Her violence had nothing to do with her religion (note that I did not tell you what that was). Her violence had nothing to do with her gender.
What’s the real issue?
One year ago, almost to the day, Dylann Roof walked into the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and opened fire on a Bible prayer group, killing nine. He then turned the gun on himself and pulled the trigger – but his gun was empty.
While he has claimed he wanted to ignite a “race war”, his violence had nothing to do with race. It had nothing to do with his professed Christianity. (Note the limited media coverage on the Charleston atrocity, when the shooter was a purported Christian.)
Mr. Roof and Mr. Mateen and countless others like him were/are engaged in an attempt to inject meaning into their lives. To have their lives matter.
What’s the real issue?
I wrote it down, 16 years ago, in the pages of “Creating a World That Works for All”:
When I am not satisfied with me, I get angry at others.
Your [negative feeling] has little to do with the other person. It emerges from the discontent with the reality of your own life. [The negative feeling] is not a feeling directed toward others; it is a feeling directed against yourself. The feeling arises when you are not reconciled to the fact of what you are.
As a society, we possess a collective Shadow. We are deeply unreconciled as to who and what we are. Our entire economy is based on the presentation and glorification of violence – from blockbuster Hollywood movies and video games to multi-million dollar arms sales to virtually every other country in the world. Why do we think that the orgy of greed and violence will not touch us? That our mutual funds can benefit from violence, but that violence will not touch our lives?
America’s young people are not reconciled to who and what they are. America’s minorities are not reconciled to who and what they are. America’s mainstream is not reconciled to who and what they are.
With all of the attention on the recent death of Muhammad Ali, I saw a lot of photos of him with his mentor and friend, Malcolm X. And, I remember his statement on the assassination of President John Kennedy: “The chickens came home to roost”.
Once again, we lament what we have caused. And, we will continue to do so, until we decide to take another path.
[Once again, I will offer the program, “Releasing the Shadow, Embracing the Light”. (October and November, 2016). Once again, we will attempt to get to the societal roots of violence, poverty, Otherness. Once again, we will go beyond the superficial issues, to cleanse the core of ourselves and our society. We will do so, on a nationwide basis. You are invited to participate…]
[Also: please read my friend Miki Kashtan’s excellent article: “Instead of Being Silent“.]
**EDIT: Someone raised an issue with my use of the term “psychotic”, stating that the term stigmatizes people who experience mental illness. That is NOT my intention. (I have used terms like “crazy” and “nuts” too loosely and glibly, and I am making an effort to stop doing that.)
My use of the term “psychotic” in this sense is not referring to an individual and is not glib. Just as an individual can be mentally, emotionally or spiritual unbalanced, the same can be true for an entire society.