How did we get from Columbine, which occupied our minds, hearts and thoughts for weeks to today: where we have now come to expect a mass shooting to be the lead story on the evening news. No longer do we gasp, “how can this be”, we now ask “where today”? Have we as a nation become immune to death, violence, heartache and loss? Of course not.
How do we begin to understand the root cause of these shootings? Is there a common denominator with these killers? Clearly their motivation of hatred and intolerance grew and festered like a cancer until it could no longer be stopped. The media would have us believe it’s white supremacy, racism, the hatred of immigrants, homophobia, anti-Semitism and on and on. While each shooting had its own cause, the root cause I believe is total egocentrism. These people believed in their right to inflict death upon hundreds of innocent victims simply because they could. I am no psychologist, but are we not dealing with ultimate narcissism here?
When did the belief that “my life is worth more than yours” begin? Who is encouraging these feelings of individual selfishness at any cost? Conversely, who is encouraging selflessness, kindness and peace toward each other? I would be curious to know how many of these mass shooters had belief in a power greater than themselves. Did these shooters grow up in an environment where tolerance, justice and love toward our fellow man was ever discussed?
So, how do we stop this cycle of insanity? In my simplistic view, it begins and ends in the home. “Teach your children well” from the Graham Nash song comes to mind. Teach them early and teach them often the value of selflessness, tolerance and kindness to all their neighbors. Teach them that their friends’ feelings carry the same weight as theirs. Teach them that there is no greater good than loving your neighbor as yourself. Yes, a very simplistic view for sure, but we must start somewhere and soon or this cycle of insanity will never end.
LONI M. BIER