Could it be that the rampant violence in America is a sign of a massive existential crisis caused by the bleakness of our apparent future?
Some people want to blame guns for our increasing spiral into ultra-violence, but guns do not provide motivation. Shooting rampages do not happen just because somebody has access to guns, they happen because someone is driven to radical measures. Guns just make it more efficient than trying to stab a bunch of people before someone can stop you. Some will argue that access to guns makes the decision to spree kill easier, and whether or not that is the case it still misses an important point. Would we accept that our way of life drives people to that choice if it didn’t result in violence? Would we be okay with destroying the hearts and minds of individuals so long as they didn’t physically hurt anyone else?
Culprit number two in the public sphere of rhetoric is that increases in mass murder are the result of a mental health crisis. While there may be a mental health crisis, and while we may be failing to address it responsibly and compassionately, mental health issues are not what is causing the gun violence either, which has been thoroughly backed up by research. It is easy to believe that people who commit these atrocious acts are mentally ill after the fact, but an examination into their lives before they went spree-killer usually indicates otherwise.
This is not to say that the problem is not mental, just that it is not the kind of mental problem you can easily shove into a disease model. It is the kind of problem that we have been culturally conditioned to scoff at and dismiss, which is one of the reasons it got so out of control without us noticing it in the blind spot of our values and beliefs. The problem I am talking about is an existential crisis, the inability of an individual to resolve their selves and their lives with the world that they live in. This is the kind of problem that our hyper-masculine culture has taught us to perceive as being the exclusive domain of the weak and lazy. Those suffering from it are sent a clear message to suck it up and deal with it on their own – and now they are starting to break.
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