By Keith Farrell
It’s sad really. Most everyone wants the same thing. But rather than coming together as a people, we use tragedy to further divide ourselves; to blame this group or that group. You can blame the politics the shooter followed, the weapon he used, or blame the country’s mental health system, depending on which narrative suits your bias.
Here’s a crazy idea no one is discussing: maybe the compulsion we feel to blame is part of the problem. We are more polarized than ever before. Everything is so divisive and emotionally charged, every time something bad happens it becomes a propaganda war to lay the blame at an entire group of citizens. That breeds resentment and hate.
It’s a lot easier to blame the gun than it is to ask why so many people are being driven to senseless violence, lashing out against society. It’s easier to blame the mentally ill than actually critically examine our culture and the way we regard and treat one another. It’s much easier to let tragedy feed into the hate and polarization than it is to examine the way we all behave and the kind of ideas we spread.
Take away the guns and you still have people driven to kill. That can be done with bombs, vehicles, airplanes, etc. You’re not addressing the problem: why are so many driven to hurt others? You can stigmatize the mentally ill, but when are we going to ask why our society neglects mental health and breeds so many mental health problems. We can blame “snowflakes” and say people need to toughen up, but that’s the same kind of indifference to mental health and societal expectation of toughness that causes so many problems to begin with.
It’s disheartening to see so many taking to social media thinking they need to say something, as if it’s helping, when most are just joining the blame game. The problem we have is a cultural one. Violence is glorified in a climate where those we disagree with are demonized. Discourse is sensationalized with demagoguery. Everything is extreme. That’s the problem. Polarization and divisiveness in a culture that celebrates violence is going to lead to violence. Ask yourself if there’s something you can do to stop feeding into it?