The instinctive reaction to any suffering or death is to ask “Why?” We think that an answer will help relieve our pain, but it never does. Here, though, the answer “He was mentally ill” is not seriously trying to relieve the pain of victims’ families or of the nation. It’s actually a device to keep the nation from looking for the real cause of gun violence.
So, let me reframe the “mentally ill” answer. Instead of laying that label at the feet of the killers (many of whom have some mental illness), we need to apply the term to our gun-saturated, Second-Amendment obsessed culture.
Our culture is at least sociopathic when it comes to conflict, guns, the gun industry, the military-industrial complex, the NRA, the build-up and distribution of weapons of mass destruction to all parts of the world. We glorify violence through our TV programs, movies, and novels. It has become entertainment. Our national pastime, football, now lists all the injuries to players each week in the papers. And we cheer when our guy hurts their guy.
Our presidential campaigns are filled with personal attacks, violence against truth, and dominating competition—gladiators playing to the death.
Throughout history, nation states possessing killing weapons and armies, along with their allies—religions and corporate wealth and power—have plagued the earth community by colonizing countries and building empire societies. The United States is an empire society, a dominating culture ruled by corporate people of wealth. It is not, nor has ever been, a democracy where all people are equal and actually have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The United States is a bully state. We live in a climate of conflict and violence, of guns and “my individual rights” at the expense of others’ rights to life and happiness. Guns facilitate bullying in any relationship—whether by a hunter toward a deer, an angry husband toward his wife, a frustrated Adam Lanza toward 600 tiny children.
What should be done? Prayers and condolences are not sufficient. While they comfort the victims and us, they don’t change anything in the culture.
First, we should repeal the Second Amendment. There certainly isn’t anything sacred about an amendment for the right to bear arms when, back then, citizens had single-shot weapons and no active military.
Second, the federal government cannot allow the gun industry and all the private military contractors to keep dictating national and foreign policy on the making, selling, and use of guns. The United States cannot continue to act as the primary promoter of guns and murderous weapons around the world.
Third (and the hardest of all). We, the people, must transform the United States from being an Empire Nation into an Earth Community. We need to create a nation where all people are equal and respected, where the good of the community comes before our individual rights, where our natural resources are protected and used reasonably for the good of all people, all species of animal and plant, and for the good of Earth itself. This kind of Earth Community needs to become real in our homes and our neighborhoods. Then it can grow in our cities, states, and eventually, our nation. When the United States becomes an Earth Community, then the world will lay down its guns.