All the lonely people
where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

I was reading an interesting piece in a local arts magazine earlier today

[while munching some very, very nice oatmeal, peanut butter and sliced bananas]

the title of which was something along the lines of: what do all teenaged mass-killers have in common?

In summary – they were male

[except one]

and they were

on prescribed psychiatric medication

In fact, the piece was a thinly-veiled, single-issue opinion piece that psychiatric medication is a

BAD THING

[which it may well be, but that’s not the matter at hand]

The piece started with the wrong question.

It’s not what mass-killers have in common… It’s what non-mass-killers have in common.

The murders of 26 people in Newtown, CT understandably caused a shock-wave of introspection and hurt. Such a shock-wave, reinforced by our polarized, special-interest-bred social and political discourse, very quickly descends into the blame game.

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

but

People without guns kills a lot less people

Though

The mental health system dropped the ball

we

Don’t want our taxes going to asylums – which impinge civil liberties

and

Crazy people do bat-shit crazy things that can’t be predicted

however

It’s all a structured, massively-coordinated illuminati-funded conspiracy

And the truth is

[as if something like objective truth even exists]

that it may be all, many, some, or none of the above.

Because the blame game doesn’t matter, not in the long-run. What matters is knowing that, no matter what we do, it will happen again. And when it does, we’ll descend into the individualized blame-game that’s playing out right now.

Does that mean there’s no blame? Hardly. There is clear and specific blame, however we are often denied the satisfaction of seeing visible, consequent justice because

the shooter then turned his gun on himself

and, in the absence of that justice, we look for proxies.

Guns, drugs, mental health system, parents, churches, secular leadership, baby boomers, governments, Barney the Dinosaur, video games… The list goes on, and on.

But, here’s the thing, lists reflect the person making the list, more than the situation itself.

If I have an issue with guns, then it’s a gun issue. If I have an issue with churches, then its a religious issue. If I have an issue with Barney the Dinosaur…

[you get my drift?]

We are asking the wrong question.

What do non-mass-killers have in common?

When we ask a different question, we get to make a different list. And I’m guessing that the very top of that list will be something like:

Non-mass-killers are not ignored

You see, here’s the thing… HUNDREDS of millions of prescriptions each year are for anti-depressants

[and that may, or may not be a BAD thing]

but there haven’t been hundreds of millions of mass-killings. Why not? Is it just a genetic lottery thing – that some drug, known to have mental-state alteration as a possible side-effect, may be enough, in certain individuals, to trigger thoughts of mass-killing? Yup, I could see that. But for such side-effects to be reported, there’d need to be more than just the 20-or-so cases of mass-killing in the past 30 years.

[don’t quote me on that stat, I’m remembering it from the piece I read today]

In other words, there are other people who experience similar thoughts as a side-effect of anti-depressants, but they DO NOT GO OUT AND SHOOT PEOPLE.

Why not?

Number one on the list: They are not ignored.

They have parents who care for them

[and who don’t substitute the purchase of weapons for love and care]

They have doctors who prescribe responsibly and monitor for side-effects.

They have friends who care enough to take them aside and hear their concerns, and who are willing to bring someone else – a teacher, a priest, a coach, other friends – into the loop when things seem too wacky.

They are not ignored.

And what about guns? For what it’s worth, I do believe that lonely people prone to schizophrenia, paranoia and depression could prove likely to fantasize about mass-killing. The presence of a gun for these people could very well spur on that thinking

[and for some, I believe that guns might even whisper, “use me”]

but once again we’re at this point again. 488,000 machine guns are registered in the US

[and over 2 million ‘destructive devices’ such as grenades]

Taking a rate of schizophrenia per population at 1.1% and applying it without modification to the gun numbers

[which I don’t necessarily believe is a fair assumption, but it errs on statistical caution]

nearly 5,000 of those machine guns are in the hands of registered schizophrenics. Add in paranoia and depression and that number goes up steeply.

Yet these schizophrenic, paranoid, and/or depressed people who are armed to kill don’t do so.

Why not?

Number one on the list: They are not ignored.

If they shoot with others, their fellow gun owners pick up on the signs that something’s off. Their parents

[don’t buy them more bigger and deadlier weapons]

spot when their fantasies lean to the dark, and follow up with them. Their doctors monitor their condition and adjust treatment as necessary.

They are not ignored.

The same goes for video games, religiosity, and all the other items on our blame-game list.

What do non-mass-killers have in common?

Top of the list: They are not ignored.

Shouldn’t we be investigating what non-ignoring looks like. Shouldn’t we be teaching how to raise concerns? Shouldn’t we be teaching the fundamental humanity of not letting someone disappear off radar?

Because every time I hear something along the lines of:

I don’t know, he was a bit of a loner

I’m beginning to hear:

I knew something was up but I chose to do nothing, I chose to ignore the problem and hope it would go away

And in that denial/avoidance is the core of the true blame – not that of what happened, but what will happen – because right now, someone somewhere is being ignored by people – parents, friends, teachers, coaches, mentors, associates, priests – around him

[or her, maybe, but more likely him]

and in that act of human disconnection the seeds of the next mass-killing are being sown, guns or no guns, drugs or no drugs, video games or no video games.

What do non-mass-killers have in common?

They are not ignored.

___________________________________

A short footnote: Simply because I don’t want to encourage more blame-game commentary

[haven’t we all had enough since Newtown, Aurora, and all the other senseless deaths]

here are my positions on a few things, none of which is likely to shift very far:

  1. I see little need for military grade weaponry in the hands of non-military citizens – the only reasonable justification I can arrive at is built upon extreme paranoia on an end-times scale, so it’s not very reasonable at all.
  2. I believe the vast majority of gun owners don’t want military-grade weapons, and those weapons they do own are stored and maintained both safely and legally; these owners are, I would also suggest, doing a fine job of educating their children, friends and associates about the responsibilities that come with owning such weapons.
  3. I believe parents and society often demand, and doctors deliver, psychiatric-grade medicines for childhood behavioral issues that could be changed through cognitive and/or meditative therapies.
  4. I also believe that not every childhood behavioral issue can be solved through cognitive and/or meditative therapies – there is a place for responsible use and prescribing of psychiatric-grade drugs.
  5. Finally, I see the corporate-political-media axis as having a strong vested interest in creating/sustaining fear and breeding polarized ‘us and them’ societal norms. Our only power against such dictators is solidarity in our common humanity. They breed, and celebrate, ‘look at me’ so that no-one pays attention to anyone else – then, capitalizing on the result of feeling ignored, feed us pre-canned ideologies, unnecessary products and shock doctrine political policy shifts.