Perspective of a Tragedy: Part One
With so many components to consider while absorbing the heartbreaking tragedy last Friday, I had to structure my thoughts into sections; media, gun control, mental illness to name a few. There is a lot to think about and even more to do.
People Kill People, So Why Should It Be
Yes. People do kill people. God doesn’t kill people. Evil doesn’t kill people. Objects don’t kill people. People kill people.
Sometimes it is purposeful. Sometimes it is an unforeseen accident. Sometimes it is neglect. Sometimes the killer is a stable person who snapped under overwhelming distress. Sometimes it is a person who has been ill for a long time and fell through the cracks. Sometimes it is a person who has always had sociopathic tendencies. Sometimes the motivation is rage. Sometimes it is revenge or jealousy or fear or survival.
People do kill people. But it is never that simple.
Knives, fertilizer, cars – we have been reminded over the past few days that there are many ways to end a life. I mean, hell, I could probably kill you with a Care Bear if I really tried. But note that there are other purposes for these items. They are usually not in a person’s possession for the mere function of killing. A .223-caliber Bushmaster with a 30 round magazine has no purpose other than to slaughter. Oh, and perhaps compensate for personal inadequacies.
And it should be known that even though there are several knives in pretty much every American home, there are still more gun fatalities than knife fatalities. Clearly there is more to fear with a gun…and rightly so.
It’s not the gun’s fault!
Don’t blame a machine for a person’s intent!
Save the abused, misunderstood guns (and make sure to watch the telethon)!
Please, people, you really must give it a rest with these absurd tantrums. No one is coming to your home to confiscate your belongings and send them off to inanimate object jail. They will not be put in bright orange holsters and raped in the shower by bigger, meaner guns. Stop the cryin’.
Just because we cannot stop all of the crime, cure all of the illnesses, eliminate all of the “evil”, doesn’t mean we cannot make every damn attempt possible to dilute the frequency and carnage of these crushing tragedies.
Some say there is no point in legal or governmental solutions because there will always be bad guys out there. Well, with that logic then, we should just do away with all laws. Why outlaw rape if people are just going to continue to do it? There will always be drunk drivers; should we make that legal too?
Cars…oops, I mean DRIVERS…still kill people every day. But because of laws, standards and regulations, fatalities have decreased to the lowest number in history since the Department of Transportation started recording in 1950. Many of you are alive today because the government told us we need to be more careful. Those intrusive bastards! Saving lives and all that nonsense – how dare they!
While people do kill people, guns make it far easier, faster and more disastrous. Assault weapons make it an instantaneous bloodbath. So save me your repetitive phrases and your specious comparisons – they are meaningless and insulting.
Media Say Wha…?
We are becoming far too desensitized. And much of that is from our entertainment choices. It used to be that dramatized murder scenes were pushing the envelope. Today, people barely blink when they see a video of a man being beaten to death. Combine this with the internet age with instant communication and we have generations being raised in a cold, un-sympathetic world of disassociation.
When you can break up with your girlfriend via text; when you can hide behind an avatar while you verbally assault a person; when you can learn everything there is to know about someone without ever having to speak to them – you are learning to withdraw from other humans. When you disassociate and when there is no real connection – it is very easy to act without the fear of fallout. Without real life interaction and consequence, you are living in an entirely alternate reality. And maybe it’s easier to shoot a person in that reality.
Does the media sensationalize? Goes without saying. Are they an industry which depends on perpetuating fear? You bet. But they produce based on ratings, traffic and shares.
What have YOU been watching?
Which links have YOU been clicking?
Where has YOUR attention been drawn?
The media and entertainment industries are putting out what the audience is demanding. People are addicted to these stories. Look at Facebook. Check out Twitter. I defy you to find a newsfeed, page or blog with no mention of the shooting. As awful as these stories are – people become obsessed with them. The media is simply feeding us what we are telling them we want to eat.
Granted, we clearly do not act in our own best interests much of the time. We know that saturating our minds with violent words, movie scenes, music lyrics and video games is detrimental. But we still watch, listen and play. And we allow our children to do the same.
Why blame the supplier? I thought we were supposed to leave everything up to personal responsibility. I thought we weren’t supposed to rely on any entity other than ourselves to tell us what to do or how to behave; what to watch or listen or play. So while the media is indeed pretty damn gross and soulless a good portion of the time – can we really point the finger and shame them for not controlling us in a more considerate fashion?
There certainly needs to be a discussion about how the media, entertainment and the internet affect us individually, as families and as a community. We may just need to take action in our own lives to minimize the damage done by these images and technology. We should all find that balance between the benefits and hazards. And maybe if we stop expecting, or even demanding, the most gruesome; if we start getting to know people face to face; if we shut everything off once in a while and defrag our minds, we could possibly start acting like people again.
But do I think media and the internet are to blame for these mass shootings and perpetual violence? No. They may amplify or escalate an already existing problem, but they are not the cause.