It’s All About Me   Leave a comment

Continuing my inventory of the trends within American society that have caused and will continue to cause the impersonal, undirected rage that leads to mass shootings, I’d like to point my finger in your face … recognizing that there are three more pointing back at me. We are the problem and we will be the solution … if we’re brave enough.

In mental health circles, where I spent the last 15 years as an administrator, narcisstic personality disorder can be boiled down to a simple phrase – it’s all about me and anything that is about you, either doesn’t matter or needs to be beaten to death. I can’t think of a better term than “narcissistic” to describe a father who abandons his mentally ill child, even if he supplies a six figure income to that child’s mother. What is there to say for a mother who prioritizes vacationing over the care and supervision of her unstable son? American culture preaches a crass consumerism that encourages citizens to place the flimsiest of their whims over the needs of others. Murder – for thrill, glory, or whatever Lanza’s unknown motive – is the ultimate manifestation of narcissism. It is the literal destruction of another’s life in the hopes of enhancing one’s own.

As a country, we praise the virtue of the selfless heroics of the Sandy Hook teachers who tried to save the lives of their students with their unarmed bodies, but we ignore as our president orders innocent women and children killed in drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. While we engage in media approved mourning for Sandy Hook we ignore the decades of slaughter in our inner cities. We prioritize our own interests over those of foreigners and the poor in our own country, which is narcissism.

We can use the Newtown massacre as an opportunity to intellectually, morally and spiritually grow into citizens that cultivate communities of strength, love and interdependence that treat others with respect and care or we can continue to float along as islands, ignorant to the mentally ill in our own families and oblivious to the struggles of people in houses next door to us. We can fearlessly confront the issues that drive violence in our country by addressing the underlying issues as they exist right in our own homes and communities.

But when we lock up all the legal guns so that the average citizen has no means to protect himself, what will we blame when madmen like Adam Lanza use suicide vests, knives, cars driven into crowds, or illegally manufactured guns to take out their victims? These sorts of spree killings happen in countries where personal ownership of guns is highly restricted, evidencing something deeper than just “a culture of guns” is at work in modern man.

Are we so stuck on ourselves that we really can’t see that “the other guy” is no more at fault than we are and that, ultimately, the man or woman in the mirror is the only person we can affect for the better? This country was founded on individual liberty and responsibility and for most of our history, that was the ideal that we followed. What makes any of us think that we are so smart that we can force the man next to us to comply to our will and that will somehow make the world a better place.

That’s narcissism and from our president down to people on the street corner, we are a nation evidencing all the symptoms.

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