Archive for the ‘Violence’ Category

Simplistic Thinking about Mass Shootings   4 comments

Perhaps it is human nature to blame something other than ourselves for the events we see in the world. The South Carolina church shooting shows that tendency in full view.

  • Guns caused the shooting. Their very existence demands that they be used for the mass killing of folks.

Do we really believe that? Certainly our president and some pundits say they believe that, but isn’t that the equivalent of saying “the devil made me do it?” I’ve been around guns my whole life. It’s stupid to go into the woods where there are bears, wolves and moose without a firearm. I shot a 22 when I was 7. I first handled my mom’s 357 when I was in junior high right after three soon-to-be rapists tried to break into our house and Mom (all 95 pounds of her) scared them away.

My guns have never whispered to me that I should go out and shoot up a church, a movie theater, a shopping center. Guns are inanimate objects. If there’s any whispering going on, it’s coming from the mind of the shooter, not the guns. Guns are simply a tool for keeping users safe. Make them illegal and it leaves law-abiding citizens at the mercy of law-breakers, because law-breakers won’t be obeying the gun laws.

  • Racism caused the shooting.

There may be some validity to this argument in the case of this particular church. It was a historically black church and the shooter seems to have had some racist beliefs. He was also high on drugs and may have been mentally ill. So is that racism or mental illness or some other problem not yet identified. The shooter spent an hour in that church during Bible study before he opened fire. If it were my church, I’d be asking “What happened during that hour that escalated rather than de-escalated his violence?” Maybe it was nothing. Maybe he was just bent on killing people and it took him an hour to get the courage, but … as I said, if it were MY church …. Is it possible they weren’t very welcoming to the weird white guy in their haven for the dark-skinned? If you think that’s a racist question, note the number of fingers pointing back at yourself before you pop off.

  • Mental illness caused the shooting. Lock up all mentally ill or make it illegal for them to have guns and all will be better.

I worked in the mental health field for 15 years. I’ve met some mentally ill people who would mow down a church group because the voices in their heads told them to do it. Not the gun, not racism — mental illness. But I’ve also met mentally ill folks who would never hurt anyone (except maybe themselves) and others who stay on their meds because they don’t want to ever hurt anyone else. Delusional disorders are not all the same and it’s wrong to treat some folks like criminals because they are ill.

  • Churches are at fault.

I actually heard this from an atheist neighbor this weekend. If churches weren’t these monolithic structures that judge people, he said, they wouldn’t become targets for crazy people. Do away with all churches and people would be free to love one another and violence would be reduced immeasurably. Wow, you just can’t make that up.

All of those simple causes are probably partially at fault. Churches ought to be more welcoming to those who are odd. Yes, that puts them more at risk. Jesus never said being His followers would be safe. There is a lovely man who occasionally comes through our church. We call him John the Baptist and I can’t say his real name because I signed agreements years ago. He is a Christian who is also bat-crazy with schizophrenia. Often when you talk to him, it’s like reading Alice in Wonderland on acid, but he also cuts right to the truth of the gospel in a way that sane people rarely do. He knows his Bible and his application is spot on. And (some people find this creepy), he seems to know things about you that he shouldn’t know, but he uses that knowledge to help the Christians he meets. I wonder if he’s not talking to angels, who are the demons who chose to obey God. Yeah, I worked in the mental health field for 15 years and I believe in demons. That’s another topic. Churches should be more welcoming to people who are not stereotypically “church” people.

Mental illness is a tough nut to crack. Europe and other nations handle it by doing what we used to do — locking folks up and forcing them to take their meds. There is a growing movement in this country by mental health advocates to never force anyone to take medication against their will. Did you know that? Yeah! So maybe there’s more to these mass shootings than just undiagnosed mental illness. But maybe in a country that prides itself on individual liberty, we really don’t have a right to force others to be medicated against their will. There are some folks who think we should treat mental illness like a crime. I don’t, but I also acknowledge that some people won’t stay on their meds and they aren’t John the Baptist motivated by God’s spirit to share the gospel. Some of them are scary scary people and we need to have a discussion about what to do with that. Currently, if you call for help because you think someone might be developing schizophrenia and about to harm someone, you have to show that they really are an imminent risk to themselves or others. In essence, they have to mow down a church group before the police will act.

Notice that I’m sitting on the fence with this because I’m an individualist who has experience with both good people who are mentally ill and scary people who are mentally ill. I’m not sure what the answer is here and I suspect there is no “good” solution.

Racism is a swinging door. The first time I ever saw racism directed at me was not because I’m an American Indian and white folks don’t like Indians. It was a black man who had decided I was white and he didn’t want me in his shop. Racism doesn’t have a color. A traditionally ethnic church of any stripe might think its meeting separately because that’s how white folks want it, but in reality, in this day and age, they are meeting separately because they feel most comfortable with that. Guaranteed, if a group of any ethnicity showed up at 90% of traditionally white churches, nobody would turn them away and most might not even notice the color of your skin. Racism and reverse racism are not excuses for mowing down a church group, but it is certainly something churches need to consider. And, not just churches. Society as a whole exhibits this problem. When you’re pointing a finger at someone else as a racist, pay attention to how many fingers are pointing back at you.

Guns do not kill anyone by themselves. They are simply a tool. If we didn’t have guns, mentally ill people and racists would find other ways to kill people. Knives, gasoline bombs, cars, baseball bats, bow-and-arrow, hammers …. As a small woman, I’m not going to go mana a mana with a man swinging a baseball bat or wielding a knife. With a gun, I become his equal and therefore, equally able to protect myself and those around me. If you disarm me, you relegate me to the role of victim, leading to my death.

I know we don’t want to hear this. We want simple causes and simple solutions, but we don’t have those and until we accept that the issues are more complicated than we want to believe, we can’t hope to solve the problems.

A community grieving: The village of Tanana needs Alaska’s support – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Editorials   Leave a comment

A community grieving: The village of Tanana needs Alaska’s support – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Editorials.

Good for Tanana for cleaning up its own act. If it were me, I’d think about also punishing the deadbeat who didn’t pay the couch. He’s not a victim. He was the one who actually started the aggression by not fulfilling his obligations. I don’t know if his crime rises to the level of banishment, but it should be severe because if the village continues to allow this sort of deadbeat behavior, it is inviting the sort of violence that follows it.

Sad that the State Troopers are now in virtual military occupation of their village, driving home the point to the innocent that they will punish the guilty … or just subjugate the peaceful.

Just a hint the the Troopers … your behavior may well be what is causing the violence aimed at your officers. You can’t go around violating people’s natural rights to be secure in their persons without reaping some push-back.

And, no, I don’t condone the violence. I just understand it.

Pumped Up Kicks   Leave a comment

Brad and I were watching American Idol the other night and one of the contestants sang the song “Pumped Up Kicks”. We’d both heard the song on the radio before, but we’d never really listened to the lyrics. Earlier that day, our 15-year-old son had told Brad “This song is not what you think it is. It’s an evil song!”

Boy, is he right! I don’t know what Foster the People were thinking when they wrote the song, but does it really matter? For the uninitiated, the song features a protagonist (a cigarette-smoking cowboy kid, of course)  who is planning to shoot his classmates … maybe his dad too. The lyrics are dark. That doesn’t bother me. They remind me a bit of the POD song “Youth of the Nation” and I’m okay with that. However, Jennifer Lopez noted that there is a frightening disconnect between the lyrics and the cheery bubble-gum pop tune.

Once in a while, there is something that happens in pop culture that just points out everything that is WRONG with our society. This song is emblematic.

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/fosterthepeople/pumpedupkicks.html

Posted March 21, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Violence

Tagged with , ,

What is Wrong with the English?   7 comments

My son and I were talking last night. He’s 14, getting to be a young man with a masculine voice and hair in his arm pits. He grew up in Alaska, so he’s not afraid of “stuff”. He’s white-water rafted the Nenana Gorge, dip-net-fished the Copper River, and regularly walks through a grizzly bear’s back yard to berry pick. He can shoot the shoot gun and the 357 and he’s done his share of swinging a machete for brush clearing.

And, he wants to know — “What is wrong with people in Woolrich, England?”

imagesWhen he heard that a large crowd of people watched as two machete-wielding Islamists killed an unarmed soldier in broad daylight, he asked me — “Why didn’t anyone do anything?”

I explained that people in England don’t have guns and even the cops who were in the area were unarmed. He stared at the dashboard of the car, young face furrowed with thought.

“That’s not an excuse,” he finally said. “Two guys with machetes against a large crowd. Okay, so they didn’t have guns. Were there no rocks available? Trash cans? Gym bags? I think it’s stupid that they stood around and did nothing. If there were a lot of them, they could have just tackled those guys. Maybe someone would have gotten bruised, even cut by the machete, but that’s not an excuse to do nothing when somebody is in trouble.”

I checked his sister’s Facebook page this morning — she’s traveling the Lower 48 on a dime and keeps us posted through updates on FB — and she wrote to a friend who brought it up — “In Alaska, someone carrying concealed would have pulled out a 45 and the attack would have been over, but England thought it best to ban private gun ownership. Yea for the opposable thumb!” That’s her catch-all harangue for Darwin Award winners. She then went on to write that she could think of a half-dozen weapons of opportunity that could be found on a public street with which to disarm the assailants.

It does my heart good to know that we raised our kids with a sense of what it right and a willingness to do it.

Reality & the Boston Marathon Bombing   1 comment

I feel horrible for the people who were killed and those who were injured, some of them catastrophically, and for those who had to witness the carnage. My first thought was a horrible one — glad I’m not there. But that’s buying into the terrorists’ primary tool of terror — OUR fear that keeps us from living in liberty allows them to put us in a state of tyranny.

si_boston_live_tweets.jpg

All those who say that ordinary people do not need (name the weapon) to protect themselves need to think about what happened in Boston today. No, guns would not have prevented the bombs going off. But it is indicative of the country we live in that the government is unable to protect us from these sorts of attacks. Whether it be bombings or drive-by shootings or mass shootings, cops are always minutes or hours away when seconds count. The less citizens are empowered to take care of themselves, the more power the terrorists (whether foreign or domestic) have. The more control over our lives we cede to the government, the less power we possess to control our circumstances.

Think about that! This should not make us afraid! It should make us angry! It should make us demand that our government accept that we have the RIGHT to protect ourselves without asking permission from the government. The government is supposed to ask permission from us, not the other way around.

Los Angeles Cops Prove Why Citizens Need Guns   Leave a comment

In an all-out-effort to stop a cop-killer, Los Angeles Police opened fire on two newspaper carriers, sending them to the hospital.

http://www.neontommy.com/news/2013/02/dorner-manhunt-beck-admits-shooting-newspaper-carriers-was-case-mistaken-identity

They’re also conducting door-to-door searches against homeowner wishes.

(Jae C. Hong/ Associated Press ) - San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies conduct door-to-door search in Big Bear, Calif, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013. Thousands of police officers hunted Thursday for one of their own: a former Los Angeles officer angry over his firing and sought in a deadly shooting rampage after warning he would wage “warfare” on those who wronged him, authorities said.   Can anybody besides me spell “tyranny”?

I’m not saying that Christopher Dorner, former LAPD officer and cop killer, is not a bad man who needed to be locked up, but his allegations of police corruption doesn’t sound all that crazy to me and ….

I have a right to be secure in my home without police coming into it without my permission unless there is strong evidence that I have committed a crime. So do the people of Big Bear. And every gun owner knows (should know) that you never fire on someone unless you’re darned sure they mean to hurt you. Talk about not keeping your gun pointed in a safe direction.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2013/02/swat-team-searching-big-bear-mountain-for-wanted-ex-cop.html

Read the comments on this one. I really think the koolaid is starting to wear off.

Obama Said If We Could Save One Life   2 comments

The gun grabbers insist a concealed carry permit could not end a mass murder. Really? So what happened in Clackamas Mall December 17?

http://www.kgw.com/news/Clackamas-man-armed-confronts-mall-shooter-183593571.html

And, what about the Aurora Colorado church shooting last summer?

http://freedomoutpost.com/2012/07/the-aurora-shooting-you-didnt-hear-about-in-the-media/

The man who stopped that shooting was an off-duty police officer. However, another Colorado church shooting from 2007 was stopped by an average citizen.

http://articles.cnn.com/2007-12-10/us/colorado.shootings_1_gunman-security-guard-casings?_s=PM:US

Did you know that Diane Feinstein, who wants to limit other citizens access to guns, is a concealed permit holder herself?

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/12/19/Flashback-Dianne-Feinstein-s-own-conceal-carry-permit-story

And here’s a 71-year-old concealed carry holder who stopped an armed robbery.

http://www.rationalityrebooted.com/2012/12/71-year-old-concealed-carry-permit.html

It happened in Wisconsin too.

http://www.wisn.com/Customer-Stops-Grocery-Store-Robbery-By-Shooting-Suspect-Police-Say/-/9374034/10936560/-/dcpmr/-/index.html

And, it’s going on in Arizona too.

http://www.examiner.com/article/concealed-carry-permit-holder-fends-off-4-attackers

Missouri too

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/robber-concealed-carry-permit-holder-exchange-gunfire/article_fe70aa12-e3c6-11e1-b1fb-0019bb30f31a.html

And, if you choose to bring a gun to a knife fight …

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2012/08/30/man-with-concealed-handgun-license-stops-vicious-stabbing-outside-texas-school/

And, for those who would like to carry at work …

http://www.cardenchronicles.com/2009/01/work-place-shooting-stopped-by.html

So what was that about saving just one life and there are no instances of concealed carry permit holders actually doing that? Most of these incidents happened in the last 12 months. Imagine if I’d spent some real time researching the subject.

When Seconds Count Cops Are … Hours Away   19 comments

Alaska doesn’t get a lot of mass shootings. As probably the most armed state in the union, you’d think our easy access to guns would turn us all into homicidal maniacs with a desire to shoot up gun-free zones, but it doesn’t happen. Go figure!

We’ve had a couple of mass shootings. Two were back in the 1980s. Louis Hastings, a rabid environmentalist who was angry at miners in Alaska, shot up McCarthy in 1983. Michael Silka, a serial killer, shot up Manley Hot Springs in 1984. Both men were mentally ill. Both communities had plenty of guns already in the community and probably still have lots of guns (I know for sure that Manley does). In both instances, the town folk had to wait hours for the Alaska State Troopers to show up. In Manley, Silka had already fled upriver before the townsfolk even knew he’d killed six (including a 2-year-old boy and a pregnant woman), but in McCarthy people hunkered down in their homes with their guns and prayed they’d be able to get him before he got them. In both cases, the killers used hunting rifles with limited capacity. In Manley, the troopers went after Silva with M16s with 20-round clips and he still managed to kill one of them with a 30-06. That’s right. The standard hunting rifle of North America was far more effective at killing than the military-grade automatic weapon.

Here in the very armed state of Alaska, mass shootings are extremely rare. Why? Shouldn’t the guns be whispering in our deranged ears that we should shoot our nice neighbor Alice and her cute little dog Toto? How can we resist?

Because guns don’t talk to you unless you’re insane and owning guns — even owning a lot of guns — does not make you crazy! Guns do not shoot people. By themselves guns are incapable of shooting anyone.  It’s not the guns that massacre people in gun-free zones. It’s the people using the guns who do the killing.

I pray I am never in a situation where I need a gun to protect myself, but it happens and when it happens, I don’t want to be huddled on the floor of a movie theater praying a bad guy shoots the guy next to me and doesn’t shoot me instead.The cops have no obligation to protect us. Their job is to clean up the mess afterward and assist in the prosecution of the murderer. The more victims the better actually. There is nobody who is going to protect us except us.

In the 30 years since I took ownership of my mother’s 357, I have never wanted to shoot anyone, but I’ve known people who have. You can identify those people pretty easily. If you google the men I’ve profiled, you will find that they were mentally ill and most of the people around them knew it. Why didn’t someone do something? The system is broken. Fix the mental health system, and mass shooting will all but disappear. And, then we can concentrate on criminals … but that’s a different story.

Localized Tyranny   6 comments

Have you ever noticed that when you try to have a reasonable conversation about gun control, someone always spouts off that it’s ridiculous to think American government is or would become tyrannical and, even if it did, a handful of people would have no chance against the US Army? Practically speaking, that’s true. The semi-autos that civilians have access to, even the “assault style” ones, are not the same as the fully-automatic weapons our military carries into combat. While I submit that this is an unconstitutional usurpation of the right of the people to be at least as well armed as the standing army “…but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people, while there is a large body of citizens, little if at all inferior to them in discipline and use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights…” (Alexander Hamilton speaking of standing armies in Federalist 29.))”  Alexander Hamilton, perhaps the most government-friendly of our founders, recognized that the people needed to be as well armed as the standing army or the standing army could easily abuse the people. We’re already past that point, but let’s recognize that resistance started small in the Revolution and it will start, if it starts at all, at the local level, in the 21st century. If it ever comes down to American citizens fighting against government it’s not likely we’re going to storm Washington DC or even Ft. Wainwright. It’s more likely the first battles will take place locally, against local governments that have overstepped their bounds.

I’ll preface this by saying — I am not advocating violence. I am pointing out that it is sometimes necessary for the people to stand against their government and that the right to bear arms was enshrined in the constitution because our Founders believed liberty sometimes required the people to bring the government back into line. And there is precedence in the last 100 years for such actions being necessary.

———

On 2 August 1946, some Americans, brutalized by their county government, used armed force to overturn it because they wanted honest, open elections. After years of asking state and federal election monitors to prevent vote fraud — forged ballots, secret ballot counts, and intimidation by armed sheriff’s deputies — by the local political boss and receiving no help, they took matters into their own hands.

The Tennesseans of McMinn County, which is located between Chattanooga and Knoxville in the eastern part of the state, had long been independent political thinkers, but for more than a decade they had accepted bribe-taking by politicians, primarily the Sheriff, to overlook illicit bootlegging and gambling. The Sheriff’s department was financed from fines, usually for speeding or public drunkenness, promoting false arrests and harassment of citizens and especially visitors. The voting fraud extended to both Democrats and Republicans. This was despite Tennessee laws barring voting fraud, requiring that ballot boxes be certified as empty before voting, poll-watchers be in attendance, armed law enforcement officers were barred from polling stations, and ballots had to be counted publicly.

The Great Depression had ravaged McMinn County and federal patronage was successfully secured by electing Paul Cantrell, a local wealthy supporter of Franklin D Roosevelt in 1932. County fortunes improved and Cantrell was reelected to Sheriff (the principle political position in the county) in 1936, 1938 and 1940. He was elected to the State Senate in 1942 and his chief deputy, Pat Mansfield, was elected sheriff. In 1946, Cantrell against sought the office of Sheriff. However, several veterans returning to McMinn County from World War II observed how Mansfield’s deputies had brutalized the population. Holding Cantrell politically responsible for Mansfield’s policies (which apparently were a continuation of his own), they decided to challenge Cantrell politically by offering an all ex-GI, non-partisan ticket and promising a fraud-free election followed by reform of the county government if they won.

These Americans’ absolute refusal to knuckle-under had been hardened by service in World War II. Having fought to free other countries from murderous regimes, they rejected vicious abuse by their county government. These Americans had a choice. Their state’s Constitution – Article 1, Section 26 – recorded their right to keep and bear arms for the common defense. No federal or state “gun control” laws had been enacted.

“‘The principals that we fought for in this past war do not exist in McMinn County. We fought for democracy because we believe in democracy but not the form we live under in this county.'” (Daily Post-Athenian, 17 June 1946, p. 1).

At end-July 1946, 159 McMinn County GIs petitioned the FBI to send election monitors. There was no response. The Department of Justice had not responded to McMinn Countians’ complaints of election fraud in 1940, 1942, and 1944.

The election was held on 1 August. To intimidate voters, Mansfield brought in some 200 armed “deputies”. When the polls closed, perhaps fearing the growing crowd of concerned voters, took the ballot boxes to the jail — in violation of the rule requiring a public count.

Mansfield took the ballot boxes to the jail for counting, barred the doors and armed deputies with weapons including a submachine “Tommy” gun.

Short of firearms and ammunition, the GIs scoured the county to find them. By borrowing keys to the National Guard and State Guard Armories, they got three M-1 rifles, five .45 semi-automatic pistols, and 24 British Enfield rifles. The armories were nearly empty after the war’s end. They headed for the jail to get the ballot boxes. Occupying high ground they initiated a fire fight while deliberately leaving the back door unguarded to give the jail’s defenders an easy way out.

Running low on ammunition, the GIs eventually forced the issue by dynamiting the jail’s porch, which breached the barred door. The panicked deputies surrendered. GIs quickly secured the building.

In five precincts free of vote fraud, the GI candidate for Sheriff, Knox Henry, won 1,168 votes to Cantrell’s 789. Other GI candidates won by similar margins. McMinn Countians, having restored the Rule of Law, returned to their daily lives.

The Battle of Athens, as it became known, made national headlines. Most outsiders’ reports had the errors usual in coverage of large-scale, night-time events. A New York Times editorialist on 3 August savaged the GIs, who:

“…quite obviously – though we hope erroneously – felt that there was no city, county, or State agency to whom they could turn for justice.

… “There is a warning for all of us in the occurrence…and above all a warning for the veterans of McMinn County, who also violated a fundamental principle of democracy when they arrogated to themselves the right of law enforcement for which they had no election mandate. Corruption, when and where it exists, demands reform, and even in the most corrupt and boss-ridden communities there are peaceful means by which reform can be achieved. But there is no substitute, in a democracy, for orderly process.” (NYT, 3 Aug 1946, p. 14.)

Those who took up arms in Athens, Tennessee:

  • wanted honest elections, a cornerstone of our Constitutional order;
  • had repeatedly tried to get Federal or State election monitors — to no avail;
  • used armed force so as to minimize harm to the law-breakers;
  • showed little malice to the defeated law-breakers, who were allowed to go home to their lives without arrest (Paul Cantrell lived the rest of his life in the county as a successful auto dealership owner);
  • restored lawful government.

The Battle of Athens clearly shows:

  • how Americans can and should lawfully use armed force;
  • why the Rule of Law requires unrestricted access to firearms;
  • how civilians with military-type firearms can beat the forces of “law and order”.

Dictators believe that public order is more important than the Rule of Law. Americans have historically rejected that idea. Brutal political repression – as practiced by Cantrell and Mansfield – is lethal to many. An individual criminal can harm a handful of people, but governments alone can brutalize thousands, or millions. The world saw as many as 60 million people killed under brutal genocidal regimes in the 20th century.

Law-abiding McMinn Countians won the Battle of Athens because they were not hamstrung by “gun control”. McMinn Countians showed us when citizens can and should use armed force to support the Rule of Law. We are all in their debt.

We don’t think it can happen in America, but it already has. We think there’ll never be a need to stand up to an American government that has grown tyrannical, but there has already been that need. We think that ordinary citizens cannot stand up to armed government agents, but they already have. We’re not arguing theory here. We’re arguing history. Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it and Americans in the 21st century apparently are wholly ignorant of our own history.

Our Raging World   6 comments

The United States has become an angry society. Lots of people would like to blame the gun culture, video games and movies for our growing culture of violence, but I think we need to examine ourselves. Do you drive? Are you a respectful driver who stays in your lane, maintains a moderate speed and smiles at the toll booth girl? Or are you weaving in and out of traffic, accelerating rapidly, slamming on your brakes and gesturing menacingly at your fellow drivers?

Before I wrote a word, I went out and researched this topic. The issue of aggressive driving has been addressed in plenty of articles, but it was the comments to those articles that fascinated me. “Well, for every aggressive driver out there there’s 3 or 4 bad drivers that force the rest of us to deal with them. Get the bad drivers off the road and aggression would end.”  I suspect this commenter is in the second group of drivers and the “bad” drivers are in the first. His frustration with their polite driving is a symptom of the rage that you can see all throughout society.

I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but the 21st century has mostly been a decade of venting our spleens and now our young men are shooting strangers in public venues. What is wrong with us? Is it really just that we have guns in our homes? Maybe we need to take the cars away too because road rage kills far more people than guns do. According to the FBI’s latest statistics, so do fists and feet. We can’t do without those, so maybe we need to look elsewhere – away from the tools of rage to the source of our rage itself.

Politically, we’re a deeply divided nation struggling among ourselves over the fundamental nature of our governmental system. Economically, nothing makes you angrier than not being able to find a job so you can feed your family or feeling trapped in a job you hate because of limited choices in the job market. Socially, we’re also grown extremely divisive. For every us there is a them and there is an increasing desire among some groups to control “them”. As a society, we feel overwhelmed and overstimulated, in debt, trapped, failing, undervalued, invisible and silent, tyrannized by greater powers, and unable to control the environment around us. If the United States were an individual, we’d be at risk for domestic violence. And, what a surprise – we collectively show all the symptoms!

Anger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion. There’s nothing wrong with being irritated over some of life’s difficulties. Your husband leaves the toilet seat up and you fall in. Do you feel valuable to him? Does your wife leave the grounds in the coffee maker for you to deal with? Do you feel validated? Those are normal life reactions. The instinctive, natural way to express anger is to respond aggressively. Slam the seat down, call your husband a jerk and leave the coffee grounds in the maker for him to deal with. Biologically, our bodies don’t know the difference between irritation and response to a threat. Anger is a natural, adaptive response to threats; it inspires powerful, often aggressive, feelings and behaviors, which allow us to fight and to defend ourselves when we are attacked. A certain amount of anger, therefore, is necessary to our survival. When life’s stressors are coming at you at a million miles an hour whenever you’re awake, you’re in a constant state of adaptive response to threat. Our modern society, with our instant access to news on a 24-hour cycle and all the stressors of jobs, government, regulation, debt, smart phones, and just the sheer number of activities we feel obligated to participate in … no wonder we’re angry to the point of rage. We have left the realm of normality as a society and we wish we could slap someone to set everything right.

We, rightly, think that walking into a mall or movie theater with a collection of guns and randomly shooting at people is not a normal reaction to life stressors. If only we were still normal! Our society is collectively stressed out and constantly enraged. Our driving behavior and Internet communications show that far too many of us think it’s acceptable to inflict emotional harm on others when they’re stressing us out. Add to that a little schizophrenia, thousands of images of simulated murder, an absent father, a society that does not value those who can’t handle stress and is constantly presenting new threats to deal with and I don’t wonder that an occasional 20-something man starts shooting at strangers in a gun-free zone.

Thirty years ago, there was a popular psychological movement that said “holding in anger is unhealthy. You should let it all hang out. Yell at your spouse, flip off the bad drivers, and tell subculture groups you don’t like that they’re evil.” Psychologists now say that this is a dangerous myth that drives an increase in anger in general and pushes some people to hurt others. Research has found that “letting it rip” with anger actually escalates anger and aggression and does nothing to help you (or the person you’re angry with) resolve the situation.

So what’s the answer? We don’t need more laws to change our collective behavior. Taking control away from people who are already feeling out-of-control escalates the behavior. A top-down approach will breed rebellion. Society is made up of individuals, so individuals working toward a common goal can affect society for the better. We need individual self-examination and individual self-control. Shut off the smart phone and the TV. Spend some time contemplating your navel or read a book. Take a deep breath. Relax. Mind your mouth (or your typing fingers). Don’t say it. Don’t use the gesture you want to use. Control yourself. Adopt reason. Few things in life are the end of the world and getting angry over trivial issues leaves you with no energy to address big ones.

Sometimes, our anger and frustration are caused by very real and inescapable problems in our lives. The economy stinks and our government is making it worse. Some of us are drowning in debt and the rapidly inflating cost of living. Anger over that is not misplaced, and it may provide the energy for change in our society, but I submit that there are no quick fixes. The cultural belief that every problem has a solution and that the problem is “other people who just won’t get on board” adds to our frustration. A society built on individual rights and responsibilities may not provide immediate solutions. It doesn’t mean you subjugate the half of society that values personal liberty in order to force your “solution” on society. Tyranny rarely provides ownership and maybe our solutions will ultimately be found in how we handle and face problems rather than solving the problem itself.

Maybe if we’d all slow down, listen to one another, consider that the “other guy” may have a sliver of sense among a wagon load of stupidity, stop jumping to conclusions over sound bites, and recognize that “other people” doing things differently from me or you is not necessarily a societal apocalypse – maybe we’ll find solutions just in the process of letting some of our anger and frustration go.

We are the problem and we must be the solution.

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