Are we ready to face our demons?
I write, debate, speak up. Not nearly as much as I should, but when I do what I receive in return is a deafening and terrifying silence.
We are not ready to face our demons.
Another school shooting yesterday. Young lives lost forever. It’s horrific and yet, I lament at the idea of approaching social media today just to become entrenched in all the same empty conversations and arguments. I know you feel it too. I can see it in your comments.
I am not an NRA guy. If the NRA found itself embroiled in controversy next week and imploded from within, never to be heard from again……. I’d be fine with that.
Even though I don’t support the NRA, I must relent, gun control is powerless to stop gun violence. I think you see this. Regardless of your stance or outlook or lost patience with mass shootings.
Before we get even deeper within these trenches let’s just understand our climate. Statistically. I’ll only use left leaning sources, just to drive the point home.
Let us pretend. Just as a thought experiment. That we were all very clever and passed a law that everyone adopted, and everyone obeyed and for the next 100 years we did not have one single mass shooting in America. Let us pretend that for one second.
VICTORY! Right? Problem solved?
Mass shooting victims in America comprise roughly 1% of gun victims annually. Adjust for suicide, and I think we should, and mass shooting victims comprise roughly 3.5% of gun victims annually.
So even if we spent all our political capital, all our energy, all available resources and developed, implemented and created the agency to enforce all the right laws and erased this wretched problem from our society then we would have only improved the situation by 3.5%.
Cost / Benefit. Are there better ways for us to sharpen our lens? Adjust our focus?
The vast majority of gun violence in America IS a matter of policy. With our current drug wars, we have artificially created black markets on all inner-city streets. That is where our gun violence lies. We don’t have a gun problem in America, we have PROHIBITION problem in America.
We could significantly reduce gun violence in America, almost overnight, by repealing laws as opposed to writing new ones.
Why are we not discussing this?
Well now perhaps you’re coming to the devastating reality that some victims are more important than others.
NO! Surely not right?
Yet. The moment there is a mass shooting at a suburban school we are inundated, and the national consciousness is moved and shaken.
There are vastly more inner-city children caught in the cross fire of drug market battles each and every day. We don’t discuss that or write stories about it.
This reflects our internal national bias. It exists.
Let’s continue down this train of thought. I think it’s important.
Why? This is a world where a gun free environment is simply not plausible. Hell, we now live in a time where a would-be killer can simply 3D print a gun, should that killer be so inclined.
So, let’s target that inclination as opposed to the tool they choose to act upon it.
What spawns that inclination?
Mental illness? Please. We can’t even scientifically describe or understand consciousness and you think we have mental illness figured out? We don’t. It’s highly subjective.
Past its inherent subjectivity you quickly come to see that the rate of violent crime committed by those who have been diagnosed as mentally ill is nearly identical to the incidence rate of all of us who haven’t been so diagnosed.
There’s something else here. We don’t get a pass on this issue by simply prescribing all our citizens with psychosomatic drugs. The pharmaceutical industry could be so lucky.
What I’d like to reference is something larger. More systemic.
Like with a dangerous pathogen that has begun a threatening epidemic, society scrambles to find the root cause. Patient Zero.
This is where our demons lie.
Our demons can be defined as an injury to moral conscience resulting from an act of perceived moral transgression which produces profound emotional shame. The concept of moral injury emphasizes the psychological, cultural, and spiritual aspects of trauma.
This is the definition of Moral Injury. This term is typically associated with individuals. I’m particularly familiar with this term being a US Marine. I’m intimately familiar with its impacts and living with PTSD.
This term and theory can and actively IS being applied to an entire society. All Western culture.
Profound emotional shame.
Violence is an easy path when it’s all we’ve ever known.
We have been on a near consistent war footing for at least 50 years. Arguably 150 years. We celebrate it and worship those who carry it out.
I am not a hater of our troops. I am one of them. I spend my life actively trying to assist them and help them find paths outside of violence. To create a career and livelihood building and producing things as opposed to destroying.
My point here though is that if you’re looking for a systemic root cause of our mass shooting problem.
THIS IS IT. It’s staring you in the face. It’s the demon nobody cares or rather, dares to address.
Our foreign policy slaughters innocents, directly and indirectly, (why even bother making the distinction) on a daily basis. And for what? Objectively it’s not for your freedom. It can soundly be shown that you and I are markedly less free than when the fighting began. Therefore, to state we are fighting for your freedom is not objectively accurate.
We are fighting for something else. We are fighting for selective profit. We are fighting for Empire.
We are taught that Empire reaches out aggressively to expand its control and resources.
We have wrongly defined Empire.
In reality. As a government grows and increasingly centralizes its power and influence it will naturally have a wagon circling affect to protect its own existence. The more problems a government successfully solves then the less constituents will require government within their lives and the very existence, in its current state and size, is jeopardized.
To solve this dilemma an institution will routinely seek more and more issues that require its attention. To do this the government will continuously reach out, further and further from its originally intended borders and constitutional boundaries solely to protect its own existence.
Empire is born here and spreads outward as a necessity to feed its center.
Something else we know behaves in this very way.
This cancer is Patient Zero.
This cancer is the root cause of our moral injury. Our moral injury is the root cause of systemic mental illness which creates scenarios where individuals evaluate circumstances and come to the maligned conclusion that mass shooting is a plausible solution to their individual suffering.
We look to Washington for answers.
We should be running away.
I’m not even going to begin with dissecting the issues of our compulsory education system. It has some part to blame in this dilemma as well. We’ll save that for another day.
Suffice to say, the last place developing teenage minds need to be, is locked in a cage with other complacent, developing teenage minds.
If we can begin to accept and address what’s at the heart of this issue, then we can begin to change. If we can begin to change then we can begin to heal.
Washington’s foreign policy and our wars stop when we demand they do. They stop when we stop funding them.
When they finally stop, our society can finally reap a Peace Dividend. That dividend pays vastly more than dollars.
Guns are not the relevant issue. Fighting amongst ourselves over the tool someone with an inclination to kill uses without addressing the development of that inclination is a convenient way to escape coming face to face with the demons that haunt us.
Let’s simply forget about the fact that our government doesn’t even know how many guns are in existence, let alone who owns them. Dig deeper in to those statistics and you quickly and terrifyingly realize that they are all loosely based on shallow surveys and suicide data.
Then you understand that to create a gun free America would necessitate the creation of a gestapo force touring the country and physically searching every single home of every single American and removing the weapons. By force. It doesn’t take much imagination to see how this would unfold.
Suddenly our foreign wars won’t even be foreign any longer.
We inundate our children within a warm blanket of violence from birth.
It’s in their cartoons. It’s in their video games.
As we age;
It’s in our music. It’s in our TV shows. It’s in our movies.
Sadly, for some of us;
It’s in our homes.
If it ended there, perhaps we’d be OK. I think.
It doesn’t end there though.
As a society we surreptitiously export violence from our shores vastly more than any measurable commodity. In the form of bombs and sanctions we watch 100s of thousands perish from our policies.
Real people. Real Fathers. Real Mothers. Real children.
And it doesn’t end there either.
After that exportation. We celebrate it and teach our children to respect it and be proud of it.
How lost are we that we religiously worship at this alter?
How lost are we that we cannot understand how violence can manifest within our young and hopeless when we’ve spent a lifetime celebrating those who have chosen violence over peace?
How lost are we that we routinely and fecklessly blame one another over symptoms and correlations without facing the demons that haunt us all?
How lost are we?
Scott Shearin is a 13-year military veteran having served 8 years enlisted in the Marine Corps and 5 years commissioned in the Army National Guard. He is a serial entrepreneur currently most focused on finding employment for military veterans within private sector employment.