There are shootings that don’t make sense to me. And probably you. And to most rational people. But there’s really no such thing as a “random act of violence”, except in the eyes of the victim (and often the public). What appears to be random to us, makes sense in some way or another to the perpetrator, and in the vast majority of cases is predicated by signs and symptoms that something isn’t going well for the individual.
Why does this matter? By describing something like the Newtown tragedy as “senseless”, we absolve ourselves, our communities, and our society of responsibility and accountability. We attribute the incident to a “lone wacko”. We grieve and move on, only to come face to face with the same “senseless” act in a few short months or years, this time from a different “lone wacko”.
Perhaps it’s time to focus not on what creates people capable of such violence, but on the things that create healthy, functioning members of society. At the addictions center that I supervise, we practice something called “solutions-focused therapy”. Yes, there are problems in the world. Lots of them. Focusing on these problems only diverts valuable energy and resources away from the solutions. Surely now we’ll begin to talk about gun control and mental health…but what about the breakdown of the family? Isolation and hyper-individualism? Empathy? The fact that we celebrated when Call of Duty (a first-person shooter video game) hit 500 million dollars worth of sales in 1 day!?
I’m going to end this post with an old Cherokee legend.
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”