Not Just Guns and Madmen: Our Whole Society Is Insane

Not Just Guns and Madmen: Our Whole Society Is Insane October 2, 2015

AJust about every blogger will have something to say in the wake of the Umpqua Community College shooting. Some will just be sad, others will point out this or that as the primary reason for such a tragedy.

I just want to point out how screwed up this is. This is insane. This is a sign of the decline of our society. Seriously, folks.

Without excusing anything, I ask you to imagine the mindset of these mass shooters. They are not just crazy. Maybe most have some degree of “mental illness,” but that’s a pretty relative and vague term. They feel completely cut off from the rest of society. They see themselves as utterly alone. They feel invisible, unheard, disrespected. They are filled with rage, and see no positive outlet for it. They are consumed with hatred and envy for people who are happy and successful. This state is so incredibly agitating and painful, they decide to take the most extreme action possible in order to be heard, saying: “See me now? Feel my rage? You can no longer ignore me. I hate you all.

Give someone like this a semi-automatic rifle, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Deny them a gun? Okay, maybe they can’t hurt others as easily, but there’s still something very wrong. They will find another way to lash out.

People, listen: our society is creating these desperate, homicidal loners. Any individual mass murderer has to answer for his actions, but we’ve got to ask ourselves: “Why there are so many of them? And why are they so angry?”

The answer to this question is incredibly complex; there’s no single, simple solution. The whole structure of our society is to blame. We are highly individualistic and competitive. We’ve left behind all of the traditional social structures that gave us identities, responsibilities, communities, and a sense of belonging. Those who fall through the cracks are considered “lucky” if some rich philanthropist finances their handout. The Beatles asked, “All the lonely people, where do they all come from?” Indeed, they are everywhere. And some of them are angry.

In 100 years, historians will look back on our time with 20/20 hindsight. I suspect they’ll wonder why it took us so long to wake up to the fact that our society was unsustainable – socially, politically, ecologically, and economically. We have to wake up and change everything if we’re going to survive.

In the meantime, here’s how to respond to this latest shooting, which I imagine has brought tears to many of our eyes: Be kind. Reach out to people. Support community wherever you find it. Be generous. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Listen to them. Don’t get caught up in hatred, blaming, and fear – these things only contribute to the sad state of our society.


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