Following the events of all massacre-shootings in this country, one common thread you find is how quickly everyone turns towards their need for blame. They aren’t searching for a solution, or a fix. They are looking for an out. I’ve seen it up-close dozens of times, and one time I was dead in the middle of it. And I’m sitting in San Francisco, watching it happen again in AZ. And it doesn’t seem to be any different.
Events like this tend to be incredibly horrifying. A child is killed, or a mother. Maybe a guy who seems like a stand-up father. Someone good always dies, and it scares the living shit out of all of us who have emotion left in them. It’s not new.
What’s new this time around is people aren’t looking to blame a single person – they are blaming an element of our culture. And they’re damn right to do so.
Following the events of Columbine, you found two kinds of people – those who blamed a person or persons, and those who blamed something a bit bigger. At first, I was in the first group. I think most of us kids at the school were. While we were sad at first, slowly that turned to the fear, which caused many to blame Eric and Dylans parents. Or me. Lots blamed myself and friends of theirs. It was easy to do.
Still, there were many others who blamed bigger things. My parents went after the incompetant police who allowed it to happen. Some blamed the media that the two ingested – violent videogames and movies. Others went after guns, assuming they were the thing – the one secret ingredient that would stop the next school shooting.
It’s that ingredient that everyone is after, you see. Each person earnestly believes they know what will fix all of this. They really do. They mean the best. What they don’t understand is that there is no ‘X-Factor’. There is no ingredient. That’s not how these things work.
Things this horrific never have a single cause – there was no single person who beat up kids at Columbine, no single incident that sparked the hatred, and no single political event that inspired them. They were created over time, ingesting everything negative around them and allowing it to be put through the filter that very bile created. Slowly everything around them pushes them to hatred, until the clarity hits.
Eric referred to this as becoming self-aware. Once that happens, it’s pretty much done. But, before that happens, that’s when we can do something. But nobody will like it. That bile I mentioned before? It’s got to go away. All of it. It’s a culture that creates these people – an entire culture. Every little thing factors in.
So it is technically true that Sarah Palin isn’t at fault – at least not directly. That stupid gunsight map wasn’t the ‘trigger’ that caused this. But it helped. Glenn Beck and Rush calling for death of people? Wasn’t the trigger. But it helped.
Other things that helped? Obama furthering the gap between rich and poor that Bush Jr blew into a massive canyon. People are very poor these days, if you didn’t know. Many are doing little more than retail. We have no jobs here. People are watching fathers lose jobs they worked for years as Rolls Royce has its best year ever. How about people fighting free health care with vitriol most countries reserve for terrorists. Lefties aren’t free of this either, and I’m as guilty as any of them.
All of these things effect all of us. Most of us have this ability to brush things off or forget about them. Eric and Dylan didn’t. They just kept up filling with anger. I’m willing to bet that the shooter in AZ had the same process. They all seem to. Shooter in Paducah? Yup. Workplace shooters? Yup. These people hold onto all of these things – and too much of it pushes them over the edge.
So next time you’re having a political talk, or you’re dealing with someone you disagree with – perhaps be nicer. They’re not trying to enslave you or kill you. They, like you, believe they know how best to run the country. Be nice to them. That’s a good start.