Proverbs warns us that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue..” Seneca said, “As was his language, so was his life.” The 19th century author, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, told us that “The pen is mightier than the sword.” The physicist, Amit Goswami, reminds us that “Consciousness is the ground of all being.”
The truth has been with us for ages, and yet we pretend to struggle to understand the tragedy of violence when horrible events are chosen to represent the national narrative. Yes, pretend. We do understand, but we prefer denial. We cover the mirrors that might reveal the real culprits, and blame guns and politics for our troubles.
Every waking hour we are inundated by a toxic stew of negativity pushed at us by the entities which sell us our infotainment. Yes, pushed, as in a “pusher” who supplies an addict, for we are indeed addicted. We sit at the dinner table oblivious to the number of times the phrase “shot and killed” seeps into our subconscious minds through the television in the background. It’s on the radio as we drive to work. We scroll past the headlines every day, looking for the most salacious.
Like addicts, we need ever increasing doses to stimulate our senses, to rouse us from our complacency, to make us feel…something. Forty people are shot in Chicago in a single weekend but the pushers ignore it. They know it will barely move the needle of our attention. The victims are the wrong color. We expect big cities to be violent.
Then the unexpected happens, and we have our new drug. Everyone is an activist now, a commentator, a social critic, a finger pointer, and a partisan. We look everywhere but inward. Our political types rush to leverage the horror into some kind of advantage. The pushers begin with the headlines, then they trot out the experts. The story is repackaged, reframed, regurgitated in an effort to squeeze every possible bit of commerce out of the tragedy. Finally, the headlines devolve into celebrity statements, actor “responds to,” influencer “reacts to” someone else’s statements and headlines. When the news cycle circles around to that, we can rest assured that soon a new tragedy or controversy will be chosen for distribution. “Release the Monkey Pox!”
Nothing will change, because again, we failed to address the root of the problem: A culture which pretends to condemn violence while glorifying it in every possible way. A culture devoid of Spiritual principles. A nation guided, not by principle, but driven and divided by an arrogant, foul mouthed, irreverent, self-absorbed pop culture; a pop culture that seeks to create, as C.S. Lewis described, “men without chests.”
For millennia, the natural aggressive instincts of the male were harnessed by honor and discipline in intact families that shared common beliefs. History, nevertheless, is full of tales of barbarism and the horrors of war. We are, after all, human. However, within the living memory of many reading this now is a time when a boy in grade school might carry a jacknife to class in his pocket, when you could walk across a parking lot at a rural high school and see a gun rack with a hunting rifle in the back window of a pickup truck, and no one would think it unusual.
“Mass shootings don’t happen in other countries.” They didn’t happen here, either, until recent generations. Pop culture refuses to ask what has changed in such a short time, refuses to acknowledge the effect on boys of being adrift without the guidance of a father, or a church, or even a set of common beliefs and principles. Pop culture seeks to force boys into the role of “beta males,” to overtly suppress anything masculine, but covertly provide an unlimited supply of violent video games and movies, and an unlimited supply of pornography.
Little wonder that natural instincts suppressed and perverted, without direction or discipline, can mutate into uncontrollable rage. Cover the mirror, and turn away from it, back to the television, where news is breaking again.