That could have been me. A murderer.
I know a fair number of people in Orlando, including my older sister who lives there and friends/acquaintances who work there... I heard it through my Twin first, then the news, then Facebook where there was a sudden flood of Gun Control campaigns and memes. It pissed me off.
It pissed me off to read a woman commenting on another woman's "Guns aren't the problem" post, saying along the lines of, "I hope a gunman doesn't go to your kids school and start shooting, would you want gun control then?" I am paraphrasing there, but reading it, feeling what I felt, I realized I have a passionate opinion on the topic too. So what would I do? As it happened, when I jumped into that online conversation, I was asked that question. "What's your solution?"
Guns aren't the problem. People are the problem. I don't mean that in terms of "kill all the people!" as you might imagine, but in terms of... If you take a gun out of a murderers hands, what do you have? A murderer with no gun. If you take the murderous impulses from a murderer with a gun, what do you have? A human with a gun.
Of course, then there's the debate and moral inquiry about how to take away murderous impulses-- its not quite as simple as banning guns which is enforced by law. In the goal of minimizing murder, it becomes about human behavior. Sure, there are killers out there literally incapable of compassion, but most of them, statistically speaking, could have taken a different path if they had the opportunity, insight, and even people who care enough about them to show them, lead by example, and understand people learn differently, yet are all influenced by one another.
The issue, is that it takes a tragedy like #Pulse, for communities to forget their differences for the sake of their similarities (like, just being human) to band together in open ended support.
If you could imagine a world where people gave that level of support to total strangers, every day... things like starvation, long term domestic abuse, blood donation shortages, protests against groups of people, and so on, wouldn't be an issue. These are also things that lead to murder and suicide. Too, when you have these anti-community communities, where most people "mind their own business" or are too busy with their own lives to think about others, or show compassion when they can use judgement to excuse themselves from caring... you have a culture that breeds a level of independence that boils down to solitude for many people. Where they feel like no one in the world cares about them, so why should they care about anyone else? Mass murderers, consciously or not, often want to make themselves matter, and what gets more attention than mass murder?
My solution is simple in principal: Care more about people and less about inanimate objects. Spend time showing people, even strangers, they're worth a hello, worth sharing your lunch with, worth sparing whatever change is in your pocket, worth prying even when they make a big deal about not wanting you to-- because you can tell they need help. Care enough to put your shopping cart in the designated collection spot. Care enough to use your blinker so other drivers know where you're going and can react accordingly. Care enough to hold a door, man or woman, especially if their hands are full. Care enough to check on your neighbor if you haven't crossed paths in a few days. Care enough to teach children how to tolerate differences for the sake of similarities, so their generation wont suffer as ours have, and those before us. Care to understand someone elses perspective before dismissing them. Care enough to step up when you know in your gut someone's doing something wrong, even if it's just calling for help or telling someone who can help. Care enough to know and understand, that wrong-doer is a person to, and there's a reason-- even if it seems senseless-- why they're doing what they're doing.
If we did these thing, even the simple ones that seem like they shouldn't matter, there would be less to build on those damaged mentalities, the skewed perspectives who've been in the darkness so long they no longer recognize the light. If we cared more about people as a whole, in general, just for being people, a lot of murders wouldn't be murderers, because they wouldn't feel the way they feel, they wouldn't have reason to think the way they think...
I know, because I could have been a murderer, I wanted to be a murderer, and if I didn't have people in my life who cared, who treated me better than I treated others, I might have been one before I realized it was my perspective of the world that made things so grim. A perspective spawned by what I witnessed and experienced myself growing up.
I didn't change, until my experiences changed. Help others experience change, care more about people, just for being people.
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