I don’t normally comment much on the news because honestly (and please don’t hate me for this) I don’t pay much attention to it. With my tendency toward depression, I just can’t handle the news every day. I sort of let it filter through to me from friends, colleagues, Facebook, and blogs. But tonight, I’m feeling very heavy-hearted about the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Seriously, again? I don’t normally quote myself, but I shared the following on Facebook a few hours ago:
“At the risk of overgeneralizing, I think bell hooks got it right: mass shootings are the product of a patriarchal culture that demands boys stop expressing their feelings openly and honestly. Boys become men who are so full of rage that the only way way they know to find some relief from the pressure (now internalized) is violence. Violence is EVERYWHERE: from our rape culture to our homophobia to our industrialized agriculture to our mass shootings. All of this makes me deeply sad and so frustrated. It's not about guns, people. It's about violence as a way of enforcing our cultural values. Jeff Wilson got it right: we need a new set of values, starting with compassion.”
Jeff Wilson is a professor friend of mine who had posted a sentiment similar to mine. For some of us who aren’t religious, our belief in the need for tolerance and compassion—for self, for others, for strangers, for our enemies—can come close to religious belief.
My eyes tend to glaze over when people start discussing gun control immediately following a mass shooting. I believe we aren’t going deep enough when we talk about guns. We need to get to the heart of what drives a person to such desperation, such frustration that deadly violence is the answer. I believe that a key insight into these mass shootings is the fact that to my knowledge, they are almost always carried out by males. That seems highly significant to me. What is it about our culture that is toxic to boys? Some shootings (perhaps many!) are the result of mental illness, but even mental illness can be a product of environment. Until we strike at the root of patriarchal culture, I’m afraid we are destined for more tragedy and grief.