Last week was one for the record books in these debatable ‘United‘ States of America.
On Sunday, July 28th, 2019 at around 5:30pm, about 15 miles as the crow flies from our house in Watsonville, CA, a man, 19 years of age, cut through a fence, and entered a popular public festival in Gilroy, CA. He opened fire with an assault weapon on a crowd of people. He killed a 6 year old boy, a 13 year old girl, a man in his 20’s, and injured 13 others.
The family members of those who died will have to live with that horrific moment for the rest of their waking lives on this planet.
I have a 10 year old boy, and I can only imagine the kind of pain these family members have to endure having lost their loved ones in such a terrible way.
Then, this past Saturday morning, in El Paso, TX, at a Wal-Mart, another man, this time a 21 year old, opened fire with an assault weapon on a crowd of shoppers. He killed a 10 year old girl, and 19 other people before he was done.
And then, as if things couldn’t get worse for these ‘United‘ States, they most certainly did.
Early Sunday morning, August 4th, 2019, in downtown Dayton, Ohio, a 24 year old male opened fire with an assault weapon on a crowd of people at a popular nightspot. He would kill 9 people mostly in their 20’s, and injure 27 others before he was done.
I’m sure you’ve already picked out some common threads in these 3 tragic stories of these 3 horrific acts.
1. Assault weapons (i.e. AK-47 style rifles)
2. Males in their teens and twenties
And let me say at the outset that I would be remiss to discount or say that the access to these weapons didn’t play a major role in each of the 3 acts of the tragic plays that unfolded last week.
Oh, how I wish it had just been a play; something just acted out, no real bullets, no real hatred, no real anger, no real unabated mental illness.
But it wasn’t a play.
It was real.
Those 3 people decided to purchase very expensive weapons of mass destruction.
And by all accounts it looks like they all did so legally.
So, yes, all of us legally having access to these kinds of weapons most definitely needs to be addressed.
And I say needs in the most desperate of terms.
There is one thing that, while I do hear people mention it in passing, I just don’t hear much substantive discussion of it for very long on the talk shows and in Washington, D.C.
And I think this IT is probably THE single greatest component of how these horrific acts get carried out.
And, to me, it’s so simple as if to defy detection.
I’m of course talking about thinking.
Thinking as in that thing that you do from the time you get up in the morning to the time you lay your head back down and fall asleep.
Always, we’re thinking.
What were these people thinking?
Seriously, that is THE question.
What kind of thinking leads someone to take up a weapon of that magnitude, point it at another human being, and ultimately pull the trigger?
Pulling that trigger sets in motion a cascade of energetic events that will forever change how that person holding that weapon of mass destruction will function on this planet.
Pulling that trigger also sets in motion how others on the other side of that weapon of mass destruction will function on this planet.
What were some of the first thoughts that germinated inside these shooters’ brains that led them down this path of violence?
Was it something that happened to them when they were 8 or 9 years old, maybe younger, that got them thinking that the world was a terrible place?
Was it something that happened during their middle school years when many of us say that they wished they could have just bypassed that difficult time?
Was it something in high school where they got bullied, or made fun of, or rejected?
Was it post high school where people they worked with, or went to school with, treated them poorly or maybe even really hurt them mentally or even physically?
We’ll probably never know the answers to these questions.
We’ll probably always have to wonder, ‘What was that first thought?’
And, as I’m thinking about this issue, the nature versus nurture debate comes out as well.
Many believe evil and people doing bad things are innate; it’s just ‘in our genes’.
‘There isn’t much we can do outside of our genetics to change a person.’
This nature/nurture debate is I think critical in terms of how we go about trying to solve this mass shooting problem we all are faced with on this planet.
And here is where it gets a bit troublesome.
Depending on your worldview (i.e. are you religious, spiritual, scientific, materialistic, naturalistic, all of the above?), you will most assuredly answer the question about what those 1st thoughts were that started these shooters down the path they chose very differently from someone who may not share your particular worldview.
It’s our greatest plight as humans; managing all the different world-views out there among us.
I would like to propose that we at least, in these United States of America, start asking some very tough questions about the thinking process that goes into planning and carrying out such horrific acts of violence.
And, while we’re doing that asking, we acknowledge that we have a whole cadre of trained professionals in the fields of psychology, psychiatry, social work, counseling, and various types of therapy who can help people think differently about problems that face us all.
Unfortunately, our government has chosen a path where spite, hatred, and vitriol are commonly traded everyday between the other; the other warring political factions.
That really doesn’t help things when it comes to dealing with ourselves, and those among us, who turn to violence to solve problems.
Violence is rarely the answer when it comes to being at peace with yourself and others.
Which brings me to the question of how are we going to help our fellow earthlings to get access to these professionals trained in how to help manage your thoughts?
THAT is really THE #1 thing that I want my $ and my votes going to help solve.
I want to spin the world back like Superman did in that first iconic movie, and get all three of those folks who thought it was a good idea to take time to go buy an assault weapon, and instead take time to go visit with a therapist, a counselor, a social worker, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, someone trained in how the mind works, and get some help with how they approach problems in their life.
To get some help changing how they approach problems in their life.
It’s often said that we can’t change.
It’s too late.
We’re too old.
We’re too ‘far gone’.
Nothing, and I mean, NOTHING, could be further from the truth.
Change is all around us. Change happens to us regardless of whether we want it to or not.
Change is inevitable.
And changing how our minds think about an issue is something that most of us have the power to do right now.
Yet, sadly, but quite predictably, because we are human, we don’t work at changing our minds too well.
We don’t practice training our minds to think differently.
We get stuck.
But we don’t have to stay stuck.
There are 7 billion of us on this planet, and all 7 billion of us can recognize, right now, that we’re ALL on this planet together, and we can ALL help each other to get the help we need to think differently about problems.
As controversial as it sounds to many people here in these ‘United’ States, universal health care and ACCESS to good mental health care providers could go a LONG way toward keeping a 4th shooter from deciding to keep thinking thoughts inside their head that ‘the other’ is bad, and it’s my job to go kill that ‘bad other’.
And it may just be that ACCESS to that therapist or counselor or social worker or psychiatrist or psychologist, along with a changed society that welcomes people to get to a therapist or counselor without the ‘craziness’ stigma attached would begin to solve this crisis of hatred and anger and vitriol that flows from our halls of government from sea to shining sea.
My parents and grandparents always said words have consequences.
And I think we are seeing partly, not entirely, but partly, the consequences of many poorly chosen words over the last 3 years by our leaders of these ‘United‘ States.
Dear Mr. President,
You have an amazing opportunity this week to show empathy and remorse for how you’ve talked about ‘the other’ in these United States of America. Your words can have a profound impact on how potential future shooters decide to choose to lay down that weapon, maybe never even get a chance to purchase that weapon, and get some much needed mental health care provided by a government that shows it really cares about its people. Yes, Mr. President, I believe you can change. I believe there is still a shred of decency left in your body to speak to our United States of America and begin the process of healing not hurting. You are a grown man. It’s time.
As always, thanks for stopping by.
Let us all begin to treat each other with kindness and compassion today and always.
To the victims and family and friends of the victims from last week’s horrific events, please know that the world stands with you and will work to make sure another one of these horrific events never happens again.
Again, thanks for reading all the way to the end,