Why We Are The Truly Mentally Ill Ones In Mass Shootings
February 15th’s mass shooting in Parkland, Florida was a tragic event. It is sad to see 17 innocent people lose their lives so suddenly and senselessly. But, I have to confess. I don’t feel sadness about it. Not in the morbid, shocked, tragic sense. Not anymore.
There have been 18 school shootings in 2018 alone. That’s more than one every third day of the year so far. Mass shootings are actually becoming a common tragedy. We’re familiar with the cycle now: shooting, Wall-to-wall news coverage, intense debates about gun control, then silence. Rinse and repeat.
Often the shooter is pegged as a victim of mental illness and the discussion will briefly move to what we can do about the mentally ill. Those discussions never last long because I believe for the most part that they just make is uncomfortable. Those who are experts are speaking above our heads, those who have personal experience with it are exhausted and frustrated, and the rest of us are confused and unfamiliar with the subject. We just decide to move on and talk about something else.
I’m coming to believe that mental illness is the greatest issue-but not necessarily for the initiators of these horrible acts. No, I believe the ones who are truly mentally ill are us. Society is insane. We are schizophrenic and suffer from multiple personality disorders. Us. We. The sickness has infected us all.
We have disingenuous discussions about what is important to us, yet our policies and practices below the truth. We teach our children that service and generosity are things that really matter, yet they are afterthoughts in our budgets and even personal spending. We say we just want our children or spouses to be happy, yet we prod and push them into careers and choices that torment them for the rest of their lives.
We abuse each other and hide abuse from one another on an epic scale. Education is a lie we use to program our youth into doing what we say, but not living what we believe. We say that money doesn’t buy you happiness, yet we worship those who have it, even as we demonize them for getting it, and kill ourselves to be (or appear to be) like them. We’re sick!
Mass shootings happen at a rate now of 3 per year, and this year at a rate of nearly 2 per DAY!But truth be told, we’re killing millions every day-just far more slowly than we can detect. There’s poison in our food, in our water, in our homes, in our environment, and most deadly of all — in our thinking. Racism, sexism, sexual abuse, sex trafficking, disease, are all hidden in the pillars of our society now.
We live in a world where the possibilities are more endless than they’ve ever been for an individual to succeed at the highest level. Yet arguably people feel more hopeless than ever. People are far more skeptical of religion, and the religious are far less authentic and far more cynical than they’ve ever been. Pick a topic online and watch the word-swarm of vitriol and hatred we spew at each other over the simplest of ideas! We are sick!
Why should we ever be surprised that there are individuals who inflict mass hysteria, pain and death on the rest of us, when we in fact inflict it upon ourselves and each other through twisted thinking and teaching from the time we are born, until the time we die. We watch viral videos of acts of kindness on Facebook, failing to realize that we note them as remarkable because they are out of the ordinary. Kindness is uncommon. Unselfishness is uncommon. We applaud ourselves because we show up that way in the most extreme of circumstances, yet never stop to ask why it takes tragedy to bring out what should be normal. Maybe if we were more loving all the time there would be less tragedies forcing us to act that way.
Mass shooters aren’t the tumors that have metasticized, they’re just the headaches that tell you something is wrong. They’re not the sickness, they’re simply the warning sign.
If reading this makes you feel a sense of depression or heaviness, then you are sharing what burdens me today. But, here is the beacon of light wafting down upon us all: you still feel something. It must begin for us with the awareness of our sickness. Those who deny the symptoms will never deluded themselves into wellness. They must be treated. We need a serum.
Yes, dialogue is required, but more than that we need a fundamental shift in the perspectives we use to build our society. We’re going to have to knock down our own most-commonly held beliefs and somehow, some way, reconstruct a brighter future, one healthy brick at a time.
Imagine being someone who is broken in some way, they are more sensitive, more perceptive of their brokenness. It isolated them, prevents them from fitting in, from getting close enough to realize that we’re all just pretending. Millions pretending that all of us are not confused, and misguided, and lonely, and selfish, and feel lost, at least some of the time.
Imagine if we had mechanisms to catch them instead of casting them off, if we built bridges instead of walls, if we learned to profit from our diversity and not our division. Imagine if Love wasn’t a commercial act expressed with soggy flowers and toxic plastic balloons, but a selfless principle of service and valuing others. Imagine everyone knowing there was a place that they belong, and helping each other to find that place — instead of shoving them into spaces to small for their genius, or washing our their uniqueness. Imagine that.
Perhaps less guns would be needed, because it’s hard to be afraid of those who help you. It’s hard to hate those who are like you. It’s hard to dismiss those you value. It’s hard to hurt those who heal you and make you whole.
Does that sound silly or simplistic? Well, you know what else is silly? A nation that watches people die, acknowledges it’s wrong but refuses to fix it because “you’ll never be able to stop a mentally ill person from doing something crazy.” Why cut out the cancer when chemo can keep you alive?
Now that’s just mental.