In any scientific study you cannot select a single element of the environment and blame it as the sole cause of the problem being studied. The scientific process requires closely monitored and controlled experiments. Similarly, you cannot individually blame gun laws, security measures, mental heath assessments or treatment, video games, upbringing, bullying, or school environments for these murders. All of these factors play a role, and because each person is different, we cannot arbitrarily decide how much they each factor in.
In a way, we are paralleling the shooter's mentality by making these judgments.
Before you write me off, think about it. The shooter looks at a myriad of life problems and identifies a mass killing as the solution for them all. It's like that phrase about how when you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. In the United States we are trying to attribute one root cause to numerous school shootings, all with different attackers with their own life story and mental health problems.
As a comparison, for anyone who is familiar with addiction and treatments, it's very common for the addict to seek out "the reason I became an addict" with the motivation being that "if I can fix that one thing, I can go back to drinking and using." The fact is, once you've turned that corner, you can't go back. It's like when a cucumber has been turned into a pickle. Pickles cannot return to being a cucumber. Furthermore, there is no singular cause that can be attributed to addiction. Like with the school shooting there are several contributing factors: family history, frequency of use, quantity used, mental state when using, emotional trauma, etc. Not a single one can be taken out of context and blamed as the sole reason for an individual developing an addiction.
Perceiving mass murder as a viable solution to any problem is illogical. It indicates hopelessness and desperation. If we want to protect future generations from knowing this kind of homicide, we need to take an objective look at our society and analyze why these shooters felt so hopeless and desperate in the first place.
It is easy to lose sight of the fact that these killers are people too, because they have done something irreversible and unforgivable on most accounts. But remembering that they are like us will be essential to working on this problem.
What can we do, collectively, to minimize the likelihood of hopelessness and desperation in the United States?
- Listen to people around you.
- Acknowledge and appreciate the involvement and opinions of others, even if you don't agree with them.
- Encourage and support programs that do community outreach in your area. (Such as Oakland Unite)
- Show kindness, even when it's difficult.
- Have compassion for those you anger you, because they are suffering too.
We can make small changes in our lives to make the people around us feel safe, appreciated, and loved. That is a start in the right direction...for now.