By Whitney Vickers
There are more than seven billion of us sharing this planet right now.
More than seven billion hearts beating, more than seven billion brains sending common messages through our accompanying central nervous systems regardless of our subjective beliefs and differences or what we look like on the outside.
More than 131 million people were born this year, while more than 55 million have died this year. Fourteen of those deaths happened all at once in San Bernardino, Calif., Wednesday, while three happened at the same time in Colorado Springs, Colo., last Friday.
I feel so helpless when I watch big acts of violence take place in this world (and still, some will seriously use these events – mass killings in which several people die – as a means to push their personal beliefs about guns).
There are several things that play into these tragedies, and we won’t figure out how to fix it until we consider all perspectives of what leads up to them.
First – The stigma against mental health needs to change. People are always more complicated than they appear and — imagine this — you only know what it’s like to be you. You’ve only experienced what you’ve experienced and because of this, you probably cannot even begin to fathom how another person may consider a situation. What’s so embarrassing about seeking out counseling, while going to the doctor is perfectly fine to admit? You’re only considered “abnormal” if something you are or are not engaging in is preventing you from functioning comfortably day-to-day. Therapy is meant to relieve that.
Having the urge to kill people isn’t normal.
Humans shouldn’t be drawn to hurt others because we should have feelings and empathy. I believe that in order to understand human nature, it’s best to start by looking at our roots. It was dangerous to be alone when humans first started roaming the earth, as doing so left us more vulnerable to predators. Therefore, we ultimately hope to connect to others — unless you live with antisocial personality disorder.
Sociopaths are described as “a person with a personality disorder manifesting itself in extreme antisocial attitudes and behavior and a lack of conscience.”
Blindness prevents seeing, deafness keeps from hearing, while people with antisocial personality disorder struggle with emotions, especially in relation to other human beings.
I understand that someone living with antisocial personality disorder feels that their world revolves around survival of the fittest and they’ll do whatever it takes – regardless of how that makes someone else feel, simply because that’s how they’re wired. They’re able to rationalize their behaviors in their favor, even if it’s cruel.
That isn’t an excuse for bad behavior, but a perspective for how some people function.
I believe if doctor and emergency room visits are supposed to be available to everyone, why can’t therapy too? Isn’t your brain a part of your body and functioning? Actually, it’s the control center for everything we do.
Second: It doesn’t make sense to allow someone to purchase a gun who is also on a no-fly list. Of course, tighter gun control could worsen the problem. Prohibition led to “black market violence,” which means that crimes unrelated to alcohol consumption, such as theft and homicide, rose in the years after it was enforced. Portugal decriminalized drugs in 2001. Instead of jailing individuals found with drugs, they offered treatment for addiction, and has since seen less teens facing addiction and a falling amount of HIV cases.
Lastly, lets consider the amount of violence we are exposed to on a daily basis. Movies and video games revolve around gun violence, hurting others by the hands of another human and car accidents as if it’s nothing.
But understand that exposure to these things doesn’t make you more likely to engage in these acts. It desensitizes you from them.
When you regularly see these things, your breath is no longer sucked out of you when you see it. It’s just something you experience in your everyday world.
We can no longer turn away from these things. Our “thoughts and prayers” are with good intentions, but it takes action. Although changing your profile picture on Facebook is meant to show support, it ultimately does not not help in the grand scheme of things. Neither will spewing off your one-sided opinion. The least you can do to take action against this sort of thing is do some research on opposing perspectives – even if you continue to disagree, it may strengthen your current argument. Stop feeding a confirmation bias in the name of avoiding a cognitive dissonance.
People are dying regularly in mass shootings and we have to unite, put our heads together to find a creative solution, and do something about it.
I think we can all start by being kind to each other, remembering that we are all human.
As Pink Floyd said: “No more turning away from the weak and the weary.
No more turning away from the coldness inside. Just a world that we all must share.
It’s not enough just to stand and stare.
Is it only a dream that there’ll be no more turning away?”
Whitney Vickers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, by calling her directly at 937-502-4532 or via Twitter @wnvickers.