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Mass Shootings and the Rise in Violence – By Delinda McCann

“I have no delusion that making assault rifles illegal or intensifying background checks for gun purchases will stop all gun violence. I have no expectation that terrorists and criminals will surrender their weapons or that the insane will not pull their triggers. However, I do believe that if Americans stop making believe that guns are somehow the answer, then those who might be suffering from the frustrations, rage, and mental illnesses that might lead to violence will be less prone to thinking that violence is an acceptable answer to their pain. As long as our culture glorifies violence, it will be the refuge of those who have no place to hide.” –Delinda McCann

guns

Some days we just have to ask ourselves, “What the Hell?”  Yesterday I needed to ask myself that question when I learned of yet another mass shooting and looked at the number of shootings this year.  I looked at the number of civilian shootings.  We probably should add the police shootings to the civilian violence if we want an accurate picture of the senseless violence happening in our country.

Those of us who have some experience in dealing with violence probably should start speaking up.  I’m old.  I’m tired and I don’t want to drive 45 miles to start walking the halls of our legislative buildings.  I’ve done that.  I’ve made changes in our government policy.  I guess I can do it again.  Wish someone else would start the dialog that needs to happen.

The dialog about mass shootings needs to happen in every community.  We need local government sponsored task forces to focus on gun violence.  These task forces need to bring together representatives from the legal system, mental health systems, disability systems, educational systems, and those citizens who work with at-risk populations.  At some point, when talking points are being identified, these meetings need to be open to the public for input.

I am not necessarily talking about gun control here.  I know one of the current major talking points is regulation of guns, which may be part of the solution.  I am more concerned with the social structure around gun violence.  We can perhaps make some progress through gun regulation.  This seems the common sense approach, but we would still leave the support structure for mass murder in place.  My preference is to go for the underlying issues that allow and promote senseless violence.

I am talking about how communities can address the topic of prevention.  Where do the perpetrators come from?  Where have the perpetrators come into contact with community systems?  Where have our systems failed that these angry people are running loose in society without appropriate support systems around them?  Can we identify the intervention touchpoints for violent mass offenders? We already know that they all have at least one characteristic in common.  Mass murderers do not have the cognitive filters that prevent the vast majority of the population from committing acts of violence.

We also know why some people do not have the filters necessary to prevent them from carrying out horrific acts of violence.  Prenatal exposure to various toxins can damage the brain in such a way that the brain cannot communicate within itself to built the filters that stop murderous rage attacks.  We also know that broken bonding can prevent the filters from forming.  Broken bonding can occur when a child is placed out of home, but it can also occur with a child who has undiagnosed allergies or multiple ear infections among other childhood situations.

The private sector very much needs to be involved in the dialog on gun violence.  What can the business sector do to make their communities more safe? Can they sponsor work programs to give disengaged youth a place where they belong?  Do they need to change policies for employees so they can be with their children as infants or when they are sick?

Churches are very much at the center of the issue and need to start working on how their policies promote, enable or prevent gun violence.  Churches can sponsor programs for children and youth to give youth another place to belong and succeed.  They need to examine their teaching to assure that they are not promoting hate and violence.

The entertainment industry needs to take a look at their ethical responsibility around the idea that violence is the solution to every problem.  Does exposure to violent video games really promote violence as some suggest or is the root of the problem exposure to a chemical?

At this point, we really don’t know why mass shooters and trigger-happy cops do not have the cognitive filters necessary to prevent violent acting out.  We talk about stress and mental health issues.  How do these play into the whole picture of what has become domestic terrorism?

We will need to address the issue of government agencies and businesses that do not want to find the solutions that will prevent mass violence.  We need to face the fact that some people profit from mass shootings, and they will shove people into walls and step on small women to keep their profits.  However, we shouldn’t let the lowest levels of humanity prevent us from building the type of communities where we can go about our business in relative safety.

I can make some guesses about what we will find when we start defining and exploring the problem.  The actual perpetrators are probably only the foam on a whole lake of slimy scum.  We will find manipulators and enablers.  We will find big money intent on perpetrating the problem.  We will find deniers.  We will find evil, lots and lots of just plain evil perpetuated by a sub-human species intent only on their own profits and prestige.

The good news is that there are more of us than there are evil people profiting off of mass shootings.  There are more of us than there are people without the brain connections to filter out violent behavior.  There are more of us than there are indolent government officials.  There are move of us, and we have made a difference in the past.  We have taken lead out of paint.  We have gotten labels on cigarette packages.  We got DDT banned.  We have cleaned up our air.  We have raised awareness about drinking when pregnant.  We can and will stop random mass shootings.

Please come back later this week for the second half of this article that outlines an action plan anybody can follow to move us toward a healthier society.

Delinda McCann is a social scientist with over forty years experience in working with at-risk populations.  She started with a program for migrant workers children, moved on to working with at-risk teens in a street program and finished working in the field of developmental disabilities and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  She has worked on committees for the State of Washington and been an advisor to several foreign governments. She currently writes novels that touch on social topics including politics and social justice.  Web site:  http://delindalmccann.weebly.com/index.html

 

Football Suspension Musings…

Football
 

 

Of late, I’ve been reading (and listening) to the many varied viewpoints about the recent decision by the NFL to suspend anyone within the organization who has been charged and/or convicted of domestic violence. Being a survivor of childhood abuse (plus relationship domestic violence as a younger adult) this is one headline that I’ve definitely been paying attention to.
 
I must admit though, I’ve found some of the public’s reactions to be shocking; not to mention offensive. However, I choose to believe that this is mainly due to ignorance versus a mean-spirited attitude. This is why I’ve also chosen to provide some insights regarding abuse.
 
In watching as this NFL story further unfolds, the first thing I noticed is an immense irritation from quite a few football fans with regard to the indefinite suspension of Ray Rice. I certainly acknowledge the frustration these individuals feel over the two game suspension ruling; which later turned into an indefinite suspension while Rice’s case pends further review by the league. And of course, let’s not forget the deactivation of Adrian Peterson (with pay) until his “legal proceedings are resolved.”
 
Yet I cannot understand the reasoning behind other of the public’s complaints.  In certain cases it seems that an individual is only upset because his/her favorite football team is now not doing well, or because his/her Fantasy Football team just took the equivalent of a huge nosedive off the north rim of the Grand Canyon.
 
In all honesty, I, too, am a huge football fan – a fan of the game itself. And that, right there, is the thing that throws me for a loop…
 
Football is a game. Abuse is a life.
 
I completely understand that to the suspended player, football is a game – as well as the way in which he makes the money for his life. However, it is also the abuser’s decision to be an abuser and not the victim’s.
 
No girl-friend, fiancée, spouse or ‘significant other’ ever starts her day out by saying:
 
“Honey, it’s that time of the month, so if I get moody and bitchy would you just knock me out?”
 
No child ever says to the parent(s), or guardian(s):
 
“My bruises are all gone, but I quite liked the purplish-green color of them. Would you mind getting upset and beating the crap out of me today?”
 
Ludicrous statements aren’t they? And yet when I read some of the ignorant commentary, that’s exactly what I think. I’m certain that other abuse survivors must have similar thoughts.
 
So, let’s talk for a moment about why women stay with abusive men. From the outside looking in, one can speculate a myriad of reasons. I wonder though how many actually hit upon any of the ‘real’ reasons…
 
(Please note: there are relationships where women abuse men. While I’m certain that their reasons for staying are similar, or the same, for ease of typing/reading, I will discuss the female victim/male abuser dynamic versus using a steady stream of him/her, her/him and him or her, etc. combined references).
Robert Plutchik theorizes that there are eight ‘basic’ human emotions: joy, sadness, trust, disgust, fear, anger, surprise and anticipation. Much like a primary color wheel, these eight emotions can be spun around and mixed together to form additional, and more complex, emotions such as: love or contempt.
 
I liken most abusive relationships to being a trifecta of the following powerful emotions/motivators: joy + trust which equals: love, either anger or disgust, and anticipation + joy which equals: optimism (aka hope).
 
Continuing on to my point, most people are certainly aware that there are those who pretend to be someone, or something, they’re not in the start of a relationship; in order to win the other person’s love or affections.
 
And what is one of the most common statements made by the neighbors, friends and/or family members of serial killers?
 
“Oh, but he was such a nice person!”
 
In other words we, the chosen ‘romantic interest,’ can have no inkling because he (the abuser) has learned how to hide this personality aspect from view. When the monster (that is domestic violence) finally does arise from the depths, we are floored. We are hurt; both physically and mentally and we don’t understand.
 
But the kicker of it – is that we now love this person. It also doesn’t help matters when the abuser comes to us crying and ashamed over his actions.
 
“I’m so sorry!” we are told.
 
“It will never happen again!” we are vehemently promised.
 
And so the powerful emotions of joy, trust and anticipation combine within our minds and we choose to believe… (Or, we have been continuously threatened and now fear for our lives).
 
The other thing that I don’t think the general, non-abusive public realizes – is just how charming and believable an abuser is. (“Oh, but he was such a nice person!” is also the same comment made by neighbors, friends and family members when the hidden horrors of abuse have been revealed).
 
Yes, we the victims will generally (eventually) leave this bad-for-us-situation (after all, self-preservation is an ingrained survival instinct), but remember that people can only leave these situations at their own pace (or the pace that is allowed by society).
 
As a child I ran away for the first time at age twelve; again several months later. Society can never knowingly allow a minor that young to live in a world unattended; consequently I was always returned to my parents. Finally, upon seeing physical signs of abuse, Child Protective Services was contacted; yet my parents still had the ability to disappear into the woods – effectively falling off the ‘grid.’
 
At age fifteen, I again reached out to law enforcement for help; seeking to escape from a life of almost daily abuse. Sadly, even with the eyewitness account of an incident that involved my father hitting me with a professional grade cordless Makita drill, l was still returned to my parents. And again, we picked up and disappeared…
 
Is it any wonder that my love relationship life began with abusive men? How many other women have become involved in an abusive relationship for the very same reason?
 
Once, while still embroiled in an abusive love relationship, I was asked why I stayed when the guy would physically hurt me. Didn’t I see it was wrong of him? The combination of this woman’s questions made it click for me.
 
Coming from a household of abuse as a child, the subconscious ‘warning’ signs meant to alert me to the wrongness of abuse/domestic violence were damaged to the point of being non-existent. Furthermore, how could something be ‘wrong’ when it was the accepted mainstay of the first sixteen-and-a-half years of my life?
 
Do not prejudge the woman living with the abuser – she may be just as horrified as you. Instead, try to offer her hope (and the knowledge) that there can be a better life for her; one without the tribulations of abuse.
 
Do not feel sorry for the abuser – when he, or she, is an abuser by choice. Do not ‘justify’ their actions. Instead, embrace them with whatever support they need/require to seek help. Be there for them while they work out (and overcome) whatever demons and/or life choices put them on this hurtful and oft destructive path.
 
Finally, never fault the many individuals who come together and put their collective feet down in order to declare:
 
“Enough is enough!”
 
“There will be repercussions for the inhumane actions/treatment of others!”
 
And, since I’m being honest with you, the young child in me (the one who had no one to protect her) was ever so grateful to learn of the NFL’s new ‘no tolerance for domestic violence’ stance.
 
Our world continues to move forward into more ‘enlightened’ times. As we do, one of the tenets of this ‘new’ world is the need to protect those who cannot protect themselves.
 
We should also remember that these abusive actions are found within many different fields; in some instances, right down to the law enforcement officials we entrust to protect us.
 
Religious teachings aside, each of us knows ‘deep down’ that domestic abuse/violence against others is wrong.
 
When exactly did we begin to revert to the more prehistoric time of the caveman – where physical strength and intimidation were the tools for survival and leadership? We would do well to remember that it takes much more than just opposable thumbs and the ‘ability’ to reason for humanity to evolve.
 
And … for those of you who still can’t, or won’t, understand the detriment of domestic violence? Let’s look at this in a different light. Put yourself forty years into the future – imagine if the woman knocked unconscious and then dragged from an elevator was your daughter. Mommy or daddy’s ‘little girl’ and the light of your life… How about your granddaughter?
 
Mayhap then (with this vision) we can stop the sometimes cavalier attitude about the epidemic that is domestic violence; not to mention the actual injustice of the crime.
 
And perhaps then, obviously ignorant and callous statements such as: “Obviously it’s not that bad because she’s still with him” will be a thing of the past.

 

Charline Ratcliff is a writer, reviewer, and interviewer. Some of her interests include: travel, learning about other cultures (past and present), and enjoying the beauty of nature. She also strives to help others by sharing her personal experiences; seeking to raise awareness, and to provide hope to those who feel there is none.