I had wanted to write a funny post, and a post about my life post- being pressly freshed, but I don’t think today’s that day. Some other time, hopefully sooner rather than later.
I was a junior in high school when Columbine happened. I was in my first year of grad school, living on the east coast when Virginia Tech happened.
I am no longer shocked when these things happen. I stopped being shocked long ago.
I cringe when people/the media call school shootings “shocking,” because, to me, the word shocking implies that it was unexpected or we’re unable to understand what happened or why it happened – and that scares me. To imply disbelief holds these events at arm’s length when we should be examining these public shooting phenomena under a microscope, from every angle.
The same goes for when people/the media call the shooter “a monster” or some other fantasy-like term. To call someone a monster is to call ve an other – to distance that person for the sake of emotional protection. If we claim an inability to explain or understand, then we’re able to wash our hands of the problem – because how can we fix something if we can’t or won’t understand it?
A third gripe is when people/the media say that the shooter “just snapped” as if this behavior, this decision to shoot people came out of frickin nowhere. Human behavior is very predictable. Our past behavior informs our future behavior. There are always warning signs before someone gets to the point of going on one of these shooting sprees and I wish that instead of applying a grossly false and simplistic excuse, that we instead ask the question: what were the warning signs, and who ignored them?
I implore you to contribute to the dialogue around all this violence, because it’s going to take all of us to stop it, to prevent it. I hope we stop blaming only guns, and stop calling for only gun control…or gun control and metal detectors…or gun control, metal detectors, and background checks. I hope we stop dehumanizing the shooters and see them as human beings who we failed to help when they needed help the most. I hope we work hard to reach out to people when we see them struggling with mental health issues – depression, violent tendencies, a lack of healthy coping skills, a lack of a healthy support system.
My bottom line is that we can’t ignore this problem or put bandaids on it any longer. This virus is festering and spreading and I’m scared. We must look at the root causes of this systemic violence and move towards prevention.
Today, I am very sad and angry, but I choose not to be shocked.