I was all set with a BLOG post about how a salad isn’t a salad unless it has at least 7 ingredients when I realized that I was about to write about fucking lettuce rather than about what happened in Orlando last weekend and more than 140 other times already this year (Gun Violence Archive).
I know that I am not the only person out there who would rather think about food than our country’s culture of violence. And before I could write about Orlando, I had to determine why I thought it was that we, as a society, can’t look at this issue. I mean REALLY look.
I believe we can’t look gun violence in the face because we feel impotent and hopeless about our own individual chances of making any improvements in the situation. It isn’t because Americans are apathetic, stupid, selfish or suffering from attention deficit disorder. We have been conditioned to leave the “fixing of our country” to the government; and for reasons I won’t get into here, the government is not even trying.
So, we need to stop focusing on gun legislation as a solution because it is a distraction from the real work we need to do and it gives our power away. Better gun control would be great; however, it won’t happen in a meaningful way anytime soon and the legal and illegal gun markets are so fragmented, it would be nearly impossible to clean them up in anyone’s lifetime.
Our energies would be better spent addressing the root causes of the mass shootings.
Mental illness is often the scapegoat in mass shootings in the United States. However, a 2015 article in the American Journal of Public Health entitled ” Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and the Politics of American Firearms,” finds that, “Notions of mental illness that emerge in relation to mass shootings frequently reflect larger cultural stereotypes and anxieties about matters such as race/ethnicity, social class, and politics”.
The point is perfectly demonstrated by what happened at the Orlando nightclub. Cultural stereotypes around ethnicity, social class, and politics were the leading ladies in the Orlando shooting.
Cultural stereotypes and the way people feel about themselves and their place in the world boils down to the way that we treat each other in this country, and that is something that we CAN and SHOULD do something about. Right now.
Your acceptance of another person’s differences, inclusion of someone functioning on the fringes of society, support of groups that are marginalized, everyday, is how we fix what is so seriously broken in us. We don’t need the legislators in Washington to do that for us; it is completely within our power to make that cultural change now and model it for future generations.
And in the meantime, politicians and lobbyists can ride around on their high horses, stopping now and again for some good old fashioned political grand standing, procrastination, and can kicking.
This article was originally published on www.groundingup.com.
- Source: Metzl JM, MacLeish KT. Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and the Politics of American Firearms. American Journal of Public Health. 2015;105(2):240-249. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302242.
- Source : www.gunviolencearchive.org