Friday, 1 February 2013

A Lesson in Humility

Life has a funny way of teaching us lessons, especially when it comes to pointing out your blind spots. A couple months ago I had an important lesson in politics, beliefs and touchy subjects. Though I do have political opinions, I try to keep them on the sidelines when it comes to Diary of a Psychic Healer. I slipped up once and it taught me a valuable lesson in humility: don't judge others unless you're sure your own house is in order. It rarely is. 

This lesson was a day or two after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. I was listening to Obama's press conference and my bed THUMPED when he said it had happened too many times. The thump nearly scared me to death; I was alone in my room sitting on the couch. I think it was a message from someone upstairs telling me that Obama was right. And what can I do about it? Start a discussion on Facebook of course. This is when things started to get sticky; I tried to write a short update with my thoughts and I completely failed to express myself clearly. I meant to say that as a society we need to take an interest in people who isolate themselves, not let them go off the deep end. Social isolation is part of the problem, how is it that no one noticed or said anything? 

I can't remember what I wrote; something about gun control not being enough. Other issues also have to be addressed: social isolation, mental health, etc. What I was trying to say got lost in translation and I got a load of comments in favor of the right to bear arms. If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. I think they have a point there, though we could make it harder for people to buy guns. Unfortunately all it takes is one angry person to cause a lot of grief. In this case the guns were purchased legally; could the shooting have been prevented by stricter controls? In all honesty I don't even know what checks exist now; though I do wonder why people need assault weapons to begin with? Honest question. 


Gun control isn't the only touchy subject here. Someone made a comment about mental health being to blame. That didn't go over well with those who have mental illness in the family. It's not right to blame violence on mental health either; if you look at the statistics for the UK, mentally ill people are not prone to violence. "Out of 1,564 people convicted for homicide in England and Wales between April 1996 and April 1999, 164 were found to have symptoms of mental health at the time of the offence." There are an estimated 7 million people in the UK with a history of mental health; the other 99.99% were not responsible for a violent crime.

I was reading these comments thinking how quick people were to become defensive. It's really hard to have a constructive dialogue when people are quick to defend their "side" whether it's mental health, lobbying for gun control or defending the 2nd Amendment. I thought it was  ridiculous and that is when I was sent an instant lesson in humility. Someone left a comment on the thread saying that these shootings reduced the US to the likes of a 3rd World Country where innocent women and kids are killed left, right and center. I was soooo offended! I'm from what you might call a 3rd World Country and though we do have plenty of drug violence; you won't typically have school or mall shootings. 

These conversations still need to happen; though my little microcosm of a Facebook post opened my eyes to how difficult it really is. This is a touchy subject for a lot of people; and large groups of good, honest people feel threatened by the discussion. No one wants to lose liberties, freedoms or worse yet to be cast under a shadow of doubt. I wonder what makes the US different? Why is it that mall and school shootings are so common in that country? We probably need to understand why it happens before we can fix it. I don't think it is because people can buy guns; the question is why does a small minority choose to use them in that way? I'd love to hear your thoughts on any part, but especially the last question: 

Why does this happen in the first place? 

2 comments:

  1. Wow, what a slippery slope! You're a brave soul. Whenever anyone asked my opinion about Sandy Hook, I just reply "There is no right answer." There are very few common threads between these incidents and those threads aren't solely responsible. Sounds like you ran into those artificial emotional "walls" that people put up to protect themselves. These walls are even higher nowadays with what I call "cultural attacks." Those attacks start with the media, TV programs and what is covered on the local news. In the states we've suffered through the mid 1990s Columbia University created "political correctness" which chastises people who speak (and really THINK) outside of a predetermined publicly accepted (media) norm. These attacks on thoughts have created those higher emotional walls, and before you know it, you don't know what you're protecting, except your ego. We live in a global 1984 society where the people in power are "herding" the masses into mental corrals. I applaud your attempt to open a dialog, but you can see those subjects get very deep very fast. Yes, I agree we need a dialog, but everyone has to check their egos at the door. That won't happen until people stop feeling attacked. That won't happen until the media driven world stops creating the us vs. them extremes they've developed for their ratings. It's all a vicious circle. As always thanks for your post.

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    1. Hello! You're right; this is a slippery slope. =)

      The point you make about emotional walls is very interesting. You are right. We would all have to check our egos and try to think "constructively.”

      There are lots of elements that you could potentially blame but pointing fingers won't solve anything. If it were up to me, I'd ask the gun lobby to draft a reform bill that is effective, and one that they can live with. I imagine they know the stats better than anyone else and they are well versed on the topic.

      Violent video games and movies are another subject of discussion; I do think they glorify violence while feeding the collective unconscious with a sense of awe and dread. You could also argue that they are made because they have an audience. There's a quote in the new Hitchcock trailer: "All of us harbor dark recesses of violence, I'm just the man hiding in the corner with a camera."

      That’s a tough hold to break. Bringing consciousness into the movie-watching experience would help. Over the holidays I was watching the new Batman movie on my flight home. I had to switch it off because I couldn’t watch the bad guys shoot up a public workplace after what had just happened. As a filmgoer, thinking of the real life experience made the movie version unappealing.

      They can make violent movies but I don’t have to watch them =)

      Just my thoughts …



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