Psychology, and Shootings

We live in an enabling culture.

Think about that statement for a moment, and you will realize the true horror of not only the last 13 years, where we have averaged a mass shooting every few months, but of what is to come if we don’t change. I’ve spend the last two days trying very hard to contain both rage, and sadness at the events in the USA from friday… but it hasn’t been a very successful attempt.

Part of the reason for that is that we SHOULD be angry. To the very pit of our beings we should be enraged that we let this happen. And Yes, as much as we will look for who to blame, in the end, it falls to us.

It’s easy to sit up here in Toronto, and think smugly about out own achievements with gun control, and the lack of shootings of this type we face in a given year… but we still fall down (hard) when it comes to mental health. We still participate in a stigmatizing culture, where those suffering are forced to internalize their pain, for fear that acknowledging it will not bring help, but further hardships and ridicule.

Though the internet, anyone in the world can have an impact somewhere else. But we haven’t reached out to those in need even around us, and our language online is no better than that of the americans we scorn.

We even elected a government that has recently weakened our own gun control laws.

And now, everyone comes out of the woodwork, with solutions, and initiatives, and ideas… but will they be forgotten tomorrow? Until the next event like this one at least….

While the shootings happened in the USA, they are indicative of a much more global problem. The USA is simply the most obvious to be suffering from it, as their lax gun laws, and lack of healthcare make it easier for those pushed to the edge to find ammo than allies willing to help them.

But that doesn’t negate the fact that we are driving people off these dangerous heights.

The US has no safety net for them, or at least a woefully inadequate one, whereas canada and other countries have better (still far from perfect) nets… would it not be better to avoid pushing people into them?

There is no single unifying cause for all crimes. There is not even a single cause for all of a specific crime. People can do the same action, for many different reasons, or completely opposite acts for identical reasons.

Since 1982, all mass shootings but 1 have been committed by men. Other than the means of the crime (guns), this appears to be the largest single connecting factor in all these cases. As a recent article on discusses, we aren’t looking at the contributing factors as to exactly what drives these men into such similar crimes….

They ask the question; for our young men & boys today, is growing up an ascent or decent into Manhood?

I would say we need to follow it with; what social norms, and mores are we programming into the youth?

Growing up, we teach boys through open lessons, as well as by example, what is expected of them as adults. Which really begs the questions: do we set good examples? and do we pay attention to societal constructs?

Tragically, we still live in a world where most boys grow up being taught to bottle their feelings. They are taught it is never ok to not be in full control, and that they must not cry, or show “weakness”…. and yet weakness is so ill-defined as to allow cultural bullies to shift our world view by mere inclination that something is weak.

Growing up with all this pressure to fit into, at best inadequately defined, gender roles is stressful. This stress isn’t limited to boys by any stretch, but the damage in specific aspects of their psychology is more acute. The bottling up of emotions over long periods of time, coupled with a sense of worthlessness, or of being “unworthy” leads down dark roads, and towards places we have stuck our safety net stop-measures.

By understanding the pressures we place on youth, we can help change those pressures. By encouraging our youth to be true to themselves, we can start to walk to better places.

The safety nets will always be needed. The teachings of being a better man will always be helpful. But we cannot have better men, without better young men. And we cannot have that, if only a few voices of reason are drowned out by a culture of violence, rape, and misogyny.

By studying the roots of the problem, the outdated ideals of the Masculine, and the social pressure our silent consent to those ideas puts on anyone different… we are all to blame when something like this happens, because if we don’t let these men know there is another way, who will?

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