When things change inside you, things change around you

Read and digest the concise message in the picture here. Many thanks to Connecticut Center for Mind-Body Enrichment, Inc for sharing this picture on LinkedIn. Click here to see their post that contained a brief and valuable narrative.

The message in this picture above has relevance to America’s seeming inability to curtail its gun violence and active assailants/shooters. Stuck in our guns a ‘blazin intoxication, we continue to fail to see that gun violence (of which active assailants/shooters is one manifestation) demands long-term work, work that has the potential to one day (re)create a society that will raise fewer males wishing to shoot people for the fun of it.

A person may spend decades of their life navigating through issues with a therapist in order to reach a point of healing where they then do not pass on trauma to the next generation. We know full well that we pass on trauma if it’s not transformed by work done now. So we work to mitigate it for the benefit of our children, their children, their children, and so on.

Yet we exclude our collective togetherness (consciousness) from a similar strategy, apparently thinking that what is good for an individual is not good for a collection of individuals (society). Instead, because of intransigent fixation on simplistic methods of dealing with active assailants/shooters, namely stopping them with force (i.e., bullets) at or near the point of impact (i.e., the active assailant/shooter incident), loss of hope, or a combination of factors, we continue on a path about as sophisticated as the methodology of a game of whack-a-mole.

We blindly think that the lack of mental wellness manifested in the rest of society is somehow not a contributing factor. I’m not speaking to mental illness (research indicates this is not, as many presume, a major contributing factor to active assailant/shooter incidents) but rather to the dramatic breakdown in civility, decency, responsibility, and overall mental wellness that one sees now normalized every day in politics, many work environments, so-called religious authorities, etc.

We cannot expect to have dramatic improvement in one area of our society (e.g., gun violence and active assailants/shooters), without a transformation of the context in which these events occur, that is, society. Philip G. Zimbardo, author of the highly recommended “The Lucifer Effect,” makes the point by stating:

If you put good apples into a bad situation, you’ll get bad apples.”

Context matters. The barrel in which the apples are stored matters. Societal conditions matter. It is not just a matter of pointing at an individual and saying, “He is simply bad.”

This is long-term work, with generational goals. It must be initiated if we ever hope to get to a more sophisticated and effective means of re-creating a safer and saner society. Is one of the reasons we don’t initiate this work in any kind of larger manner because we who live now will not see the fruits of our efforts in our lifetime? I suspect so. Bullets have an immediate, in-the-moment, impact. Bullets are tangible, and Americans do indeed love their bullets. Bullets are also completely impotent to influence future re-manifestations of the next active assailant/shooter incident. Whack-a-mole it is, ad infinitum.

Some will read this post, scoff, and then go back to the normalized narrative around us. I get it. It’s pervasive to the point that few take notice of it, like a fish not being conscious of the water in which it lives every day.

Some may, Fate willing, however, read this and begin to reflect (and better than reflection is action) that, until we change ourselves collectively, as a society, we cannot reasonably expect any constructive change in this public health issue.

Farewell.

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