Reaction to Tragedy
Ultimately, it’s impossible to engage in a rational discussion with those who would reactively scapegoat guns and gun owners. Their mental state is not dissimilar to Elliot Rodger‘s who, because of an overwhelm of emotion, went on an indiscriminate killing rampage.
“Why did Chris die?” Richard Martinez said at a press conference. “Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA. They talk about gun rights, what about Chris’ right to live? When will this insanity stop?”
— Richard Martinez (a gun shot victim’s father)
Note, too, that this was not just another shooting, though it’s hard to tell from steeply slanted media reports. It was also a stabbing, and an assault with a deadly weapon, a car.
Three of the seven were stabbed to death. Are the three stabbing victims any less dead? Was it somehow better for them to die by having their flesh, veins, arteries, heart, lungs, liver and whatever other organs repeatedly punctured and lacerated?
Is the sudden and sometimes prolonged violence of a car slamming into a bike rider, smashing bones and bashing internal organs, somehow preferable to a bullet wound? Of course the killer could have easily taken many, many more lives by ramming his car into groups of people, but it wouldn’t have been perceived as being as terrorizing, would it?
(That distinction— conditioning— is important, but I’ll cover that another time.)
You see, those who would decry this event as a mass shooting, demean guns, gun owners, and the NRA— a gun safety and educational organization, by the way, that includes a proactively safe attitude in firearms handling— are, like the killer, simply lashing out at anything they can identify as an enemy. It doesn’t have to actually be a legitimate foe, just a point of focus— a scapegoat. And these days guns are an easy target, albeit a dubious one.
So, until those who blame and demonize guns, gun owners, the NRA, along with logic, reason and reality can get control of their wild emotions they have no place at the table of meaningful discourse concerning any social policies. In fact, guns aside, in the interest of public safety, it is precisely those functionally impaired people who should be prevented from driving automobiles, possessing sharp instruments, holding positions of responsibility, interacting with impressionable children…and voting.
That’s right, as reason is surrendered to emotion our frontal lobes check out and our lizard brain takes over. Fight / flight. Reaction, not response.
Because those people clamoring on about guns continue to place feeling ahead of fact, emotion above reason, they are necessarily incapable of using sound logic and analysis in their decision making processes. As those people lose their mental capacities, they become a lynch mob.
Worse, there are those unscrupulous government officials, and media outlets that leverage such altered states into cultivating discriminatory sentiments and restrictive legislation.
Defrocked California State Senator Leland Yee— a most rabid gun control advocate— is a notorious example. Remember, Yee was caught attempting to disarm Californians as he was brokering deals to arm to the teeth, criminals and terrorists. Got that? He wanted to take away your last line of defense and provide real military weapons— that’s automatic, not semi-automatic guns, and rocket launchers!— to those who would commit crimes against you! Why? To make a buck.
“Senator Yee said, ‘Do I think we can make some money? I think we can make some money. Do I think we can get the goods? Yes, I think we can get the goods.'”
— from the actual indictment of Democrat State Senator Leland Yee.
Fortunately he’s now out of the running for CA Secretary of State.
Now, recognizing the fact that as civilized as we are our world can still be a dangerous place despite our best efforts. We cannot legislate or love our way out of that, but we can develop better awareness and take greater responsibility for ourselves.
We can now understand that inasmuch as our society provides about as good a place to live as has ever been, it also produces the kind of demented actions that wreak havoc within our peacefulness and serenity. This isn’t limited to physical violence that precipitated this post, it extends into cheating in sports, exploitive and disingenuous personal relationships, multinational corporate and banking malfeasance and political corruption, etc. Welcome to the jungle.
While the dog eat dog attitude that is natural to our earlier primitive cultures, those we like to believe we’ve risen above, it nonetheless continues within our so-called civilized lifestyles. What civilized people would cultivate the common afflictions we normally endure. Savagery like addiction to prescription medications, over the counter remedies and recreational drugs, nutritionally void processed foods, vapid entertainment, stifling entitlements and expectations, and a general dissociation with the natural world. All these are win / lose propositions. Consider now who is prospering at whose expense.
Even here, in 2014, in America, in California, in the enclave of Santa Barbara, and even within the guise of trust and cooperation the laws of the jungle are at work. Life, death, competition, bullying, winning, losing…retribution. It’s not right. It’s not wrong. It just is.
Our responsibility is to maintain some level of vigilance in protecting ourselves, not through prohibitive legislation— clearly that doesn’t and has never worked— but by understanding our world and its inherent dangers. Compared to most of the rest of the world we live in a very comfortable bubble. But, just as in the Yin / Yang symbol, there is a spot of light in darkness, and a spot of darkness in light. We just witnessed the latter.
But, in the tragedy that unfolded the other night a gun wasn’t the issue. Clearly this killer used other means of assault, too. The issue is recognizing danger signals, in this case symptoms of potential violent behavior, and finding suitable alternatives for the individual to find some sort of personal satisfaction, before an aggressive threshold is reached. Here, feelings have their place. What did the perpetrator want? Retribution. Yes, and before that? Acceptance, in whatever form. (Don’t we all?)
“It doesn’t make sense. I do everything I can to appear attractive to you,” Rodger said in a message to women in general. “I dress nice. I’m sophisticated. I’m magnificent. I have a nice car… I’m the ultimate gentleman. And yet, you girls you never give me a chance. I don’t know why.”
— Elliot Rodger
Thing is, that acceptance, for it to be valued, must come from those who are perceived as doing the rejecting. Oh, lots of reasonable, rational surrogate acceptance can be provided, but because we are dealing with feelings, viable alternatives are usually dismissed. Think of the child who wants the red toy. Take away the red toy, give it the blue or yellow toy and the child cries and rants. The child wants what it wants. Period.
“I didn’t want it to come to this,” Rodger said. “I desperately wanted a way out.”
— Elliot Rodger
I have to wonder, how might those closest to this individual have seen a condition, but not perceived the actual problem? How might we all be contributing to these sorts of things in our own social spheres?
As a hypnotherapist, I ask, “What do you want?” Then, my clients and I utilize trance to begin establishing a new set of options, behaviors that serve the needs of that individual, and that are ecologically appropriate, within context of the society. I believe there are always useful choices in what we do and in how we feel.
During a Tragedy
The events ended with seven deaths. Three by knife wounds, and four by a firearm. The fourth death, that of the perpetrator, came by a bullet to the head. Whether by his own or by a policeman’s, his demise came about only because he was confronted by a good guy with a gun.
And, it stands to reason that had one of the three stabbing victims been armed it’s likely this whole affair would have played out differently, and lives would have been saved.