Another day, another mass shooting. They’re routine. They result in nearly the same feedback loop each time. Search for a motive. Find someone or something to blame. We search for the lowest common denominator when it comes to this, too.
So, a person who kills strangers carried out his action for one or two particular reasons? Those reasons are often surface level, nimble minded thoughts, that allow us to retreat into our respective corners to continue feeling good about ourselves. It’s someone else’s politics. It’s someone else’s gun. It’s someone else’s mental health. We, as a society of Americans have done a marvelous job outsourcing the blame of every mass shooting into the lowest common denominator we can find.
We simplify something that is undoubtedly one of the most complex matters of a generation. Scientists have studied serial killers for decades to try to understand what separates them from the rest of us. They, like us, likely had views we share, but we aren’t lumped in with serial killers. However, the media and politicians alike love to lump in an ideology or viewpoint shared by the masses with a mass murderer.
Why aren’t we blaming ourselves? After all, isn’t it us that failed our own American brother? He is killing our fellow Americans, and in most instances the mass murderer knows his victims the same way we know them. We both don’t know the victims.
We are a collective unit of Americans in this country. We should have capacity to do our best by building each other up through love, support, help, and inclusion. These aren’t monetary requests. They are taking time out of our day. The ask is time, a smile, and your words. We can take time from our lives, look around, and spot the true folks left out in our country. It isn’t that tough. These folks don’t all become mass murderers. In fact, almost none of them ever do. But, most are severely lonely. They have tendencies to take their own life, harm others in ways other than guns, or simply continue on in solitary waiting for something to change or kill them.
Loneliness leads to depression. Depression can sprout the seeds of resentment, anger, and hate. These can lead to self-destruction or a destruction of others. It’s a slippery slope. Sure, you can make it more difficult for the person to carry out their hate on themselves or others by clamping down on gun control. They’ll still find a way. They’ll find a knife, create a bomb, or use their vehicle to carry out the harm. How ignorant are we as a society that we are to believe someone who has so much hate in their heart that they plan to murder as many innocent strangers as possible wouldn’t carry out their mission if they couldn’t find a gun?
We blame mental health. This is entirely ignorant, and stigmatizes folks who truly battle with mental health issues. Why would someone feel confident to talk about their depression or suicidal thoughts if we as a society are stating that mass murderers show the same traits? We’re alienating many without even noticing it. These folks who battle with mental health need to feel welcomed at the table and able to chat about their ongoing battles inside their head. Let’s make sure we keep them talking about their pain.
We blame politics and rhetoric. Yes, words matter, but to tell the country that the only reason a murderer carried out the hatred was because of something they read on the Internet or heard on the news is as nimble minded as they come. No person reads something, develops a strong enough hatred, and carries out a mission that results in the murder of strangers. Look at folks in our country who deal with the outcome of real crimes. Think of parents who came to realize their children were abused by Catholic priests. Did any of them go murder the priest? No. Think of husbands or wives who caught their spouses cheating. Very few took out their aggression on the cheaters after the fact. Think of parents who lose a child to a drunk driver or murderer. You haven’t found many instances of these parents in turn murdering the murderer. So, here we have multiple cases of real crime and the person reeling from the damages doesn’t carry out a retaliatory action, but we are to believe someone hears something on the news and in turn decides to go murder a stranger.
The hate grew from anger. The anger grew from resentment. The resentment grew from a triggered moment. The reason the hate and anger were able to spread was a lack of communication to help the spurned person before he was unable to stop the devil controlling his mind. Why? No one cares to talk to anyone anymore. One of five Millennial’s say they have no friend. How can this be? Aren’t we as connected as we ever were before? No. We’re easily disconnected because we can hide behind the phone in front of you now. We can run home and watch Netflix and forget about our problems. We can turn to social media and hide behind a filter disguising our life. We are the true people to blame in America for the hate we see. We prove ourselves as inclusive, welcoming folks because of small deeds or minimal community in our own lives. Think of your social circles or groups and look at how truly welcoming you are to outsiders. Did you let folks join, or did membership come with stipulations? You see, we say we are a welcoming all-inclusive group but you must have certain surface level traits to join, or you must share the same beliefs of the group to partake. How is this a loving and welcoming message?
We turn our back on the truly disenfranchised every day of our life. We just don’t spend the time to notice it, and once it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind. You know what these actions are. You can see the person sitting alone on the bench staring into space. You can see the disheveled looking person in the store looking dazed and confused. You know the coworker you have that you stop other conversations as soon as they come around. You know the classmate you didn’t include in any project or discussion. You know the person in your building or on your block you try to dodge every day. Well you know what, these forgotten people know you too. They know you spurn them, leave them out, and don’t like them. They go home at night and wonder why. They know true loneliness. Not the loneliness of only getting only 40 likes on a picture you post, or not getting a text reply back from a friend fast enough. No, these people have the ongoing onslaught of loneliness. They are the 1 in 5 Millennials.
Let me reiterate. Almost none of these folks will kill others. The purpose of this piece is to hardly make that connection. But, an ever growing, and alarmingly rising rate of these folks will kill themselves. As a society, maybe it’s time we take a little time out of our self-defined busy day watching HBO, cooking our meal kits, ordering stuff on Amazon, and aimlessly scrolling Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and instead spend a few extra minutes seeking out those who deserve our time the most. The true forgotten ones in our country. You never know if the smile, or a simple how are you today can change their life for the better.