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On Mass Shootings

While much of the US calls for “discussion” of ways the government should solve mass shootings by restricting the class of tools used, I’d like to break from that pack and take the high road for a moment.

I do not think that the focus on the instrument is the right thing to do. Instead, I would like to look deeper and find the actual root causes of these tragedies and thus make a lasting change in our society to stop these murderous rampages.

I don’t know the details of the mind set of all of the shooters. I can, however imagine a loneliness, a feeling of not belonging, of being powerless over one’s own life. I can empathize with the need to take control, even as I detest the use of violence to do it.

American culture, especially among adolescents and young adults, prizes the ability to fit in to the dominant culture. We idolize sports and unimaginative music, the “common man”, the middle class, the regular joe who works a 9-5 job monday through friday, who has a wife and kids at home. Men (and these criminals are almost exclusively men) who do not fit the mold are ostracized and especially in remote or small towns, given no alternatives.

Our culture has no room for artists, philosophers, or any other variation from the norms. Some manage to find a source of support till their otherness can become self supporting, but many don’t.

Aside from cultural differences, some may have mental or physical differences and our culture in many cases and places shuns these as well.

This can all be boiled down to alienation. We alienate our own people when they don’t fit the stereotype. In so doing, it may be natural for the rejected people to in turn alienate society. When left to feed upon itself, this alienation is easily escalated to the point where the “other” is no longer viewed as human, as worthy of life. From there it is not far till the “other” is a menace and needs to be eradicated for the betterment of the world.

The discussion we need to be having is how to find some place in our culture for the others who may not fit into your stereotype or perhaps not into any stereotype, especially until they have made their own place in this world. This is the discussion we need to be having.

The trick is not to take the weapons out of everyone’s hands because some small number of people are murderers. The trick is to find out what causes people to murder in the first place and fix *that*.

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