Less than a week after the shootings in El Paso and Dayton the finger pointing of blame is in full swing. Why did this happen? It’s the president’s fault, it’s the NRA’s fault, it’s the Do-Nothing Democrats, it’s the Gun-Loving Republicans, it’s mental health, it’s gun laws or the lack of gun laws…. The list goes on and on.
Here are two unpopular, un-politically correct, little spoken of theories of why it seems America is angry:
Theory I: There is growing anger in America because society attempts to silence the expression of anger. We are told that anger is wrong and bad and to be avoided whether it be by scolding a child on the play ground for yelling “I hate you” to another classmate who just took their toy truck, to calling the police on the parent yelling at their child in the grocery store, to protestors being met with counter protestors each attempting to shut down the voice of the other. The message being, expressing anger is bad, wrong, and not to be tolerated.
When we view anger as bad, as dangerous, as something to be avoided at all costs, instead of seeing anger as an expression of energy that can be directed and productive, we shut down the expression of anger. What society represses as a whole, certain individuals will express. If society does not allow individuals and groups the safety and freedom to express anger, certain individuals will express that suppressed anger in the form of becoming a mass shooter.
Theory II: There is growing anger in America as individuals perceive they lack empowerment. Most (if not all) of the mass shooters in this country have a perception of being disempowered – by family, by society, by the government. Their acts are an attempt in their mind to “balance the scales,” for them to gain back some sense of power and control – just as the Domestic Violence offender lashes out at their spouse due to fear and insecurity – just on a grander scale. Disempowered individuals act out in violence simply to balance their perceptions…the more disempowered, the greater the potential of acting out…and on a bigger scale.
Here’s one more truth: America has had an angry violent thread throughout it’s history. Whether it be anger and fighting the British for independence, to violence toward each other in the Civil War to determine what societal and cultural norms we are going to hold to as a nation, to fighting our own government for what we perceive to be Equal Rights – what are they and who gets them. As a society, we have anger and we fight….and sometimes people die. Anger in American society is there, it always has been there, and it always will be there.
If that is true, then the solution to what can be done about mass shootings and violence in this country lies in this question: How do we use and direct anger rather than trying to get rid of it? That is what Part 3 of the series will focus on.