I believe America has reached its threshold for mass murder. We are no longer willing to tolerate the senseless mass violence. The problem I have witnessed is the same problem we face every time someone is murdered in this country. Who is to blame? In my lifetime, beginning with the Columbine shootings in April of 1999. I was a Freshman in High School at the time. Around the same age as the shooters and many of the victims.
I have witnessed the blame shift from Marilyn Manson/ music, video games, Schools, Television, Guns, Gun Laws, Politicians, Mental Illness and the Drugs used to treat them to name a few. To be clear, the purpose of this article is not to advocate for or against any of the legislation or lack thereof currently being debated. It is to illuminate the Elephant in the room. The Elephant we have ignored time and time again which has tragically cost the lives of so many. The question should not be about who or what is at fault but rather what about the current Human Condition is motivating these appalling acts of violence? Why do we do what we do?
Have you ever wondered why women tend to live longer then men? Why they are drastically less likely to commit homicide or suicide? Most would tell you they are simply different. That Men are naturally more violent and less emotional. I am calling Bullshit.
Women are not more emotional than their male counterparts. They have simply been given permission to express emotions more freely where men have been denied. This is an obvious fact when one takes the time to consider it. Women are allowed and even expected to express their emotional pain. It is generally acceptable for women to cry and share their feelings openly. They will most often receive support and compassion from their female and male friends when doing so. It is important to note that emotional expression is widely demonized in America (and the World) among men and women. However how many men reading this can honestly say they would be comfortable crying in public? How about in front of your male friends? Your female friends? Your significant other?
Your honest answer is likely a strong Fuck NO! The reason we are so resistant to emotional expression is not natural. It is not natural to suppress pain. It is conditioned. It is difficult to hold in one’s tears when at a breaking point. It is a behavior you were taught. When you were a little Boy you were told it wasn’t acceptable to cry. If you felt pain, either physical or emotional your were told to “stop crying”, “Boys don’t cry”, “Don’t be a Pussy” etc. These lessons were reinforced throughout your life with the glorification of unemotional, violent, womanizing male role models either real or fictional. Every action movie star and most hip hop artists I was exposed to glorified the art of emotional detachment. The message became crystal clear. Emotions are for women. Real Men feel nothing.
The Undeniable truth is that we all feel. Every Man feels emotion. This is an obvious and undeniable fact. The fact that the majority of the shooters were on anti-depressants or withdrawing from them during the time of the killing only reinforces this fact. The problem is not that we feel emotions. The problem is we were told that our emotions are unacceptable. We are told to suppress the way we feel. To project it on to others. To take some pills or do some drugs until we are numb and void of feelings. We bought into the lie that emotions and emotional expression is wrong. That it makes us weak. That women are weaker than us for this reason.
The truth is women are mentally stronger than most men for this reason and this alone. They simply don’t carry as much emotional pain as we do. This allows them to be more resilient. They have gained the wisdom that lies within the authentic expression of emotion. Women live longer then we do because they are not clinging to as much pain. They are much less likely to kill themselves or others for this same reason.
The end result is a Human Being who was told he is not allowed to feel. A Human Being that had a particularly challenging life. One who was teased, ridiculed, judged and hurt time after time. An Individual carrying a lifetime of pain and sadness. An individual with easy access to a lethal weapon and told the only acceptable emotion he could express was anger and aggression. An individual who blames his teachers, his peers, his friends and his family for the way he feels. An individual who believes they are wrong or different for feeling this way. An individual who is afraid to reach out for help. Afraid for being seen as weak. Afraid of being judged. Afraid of further isolation. Afraid to cry, to feel, to be a real Man. A real Human Being.
Dan McGinley RN BSN
Holistic Health and Consciousness Coaching