Friday, October 16, 2015

How to Prevent the Isolation that Leads to Mass Shootings?

I recently read an article titled, "There’s a Way to Stop Mass Shootings, and You Won’t Like It"
in which blogger Rob Meyers suggested that we reach out to loners as a more realistic cure for mass shootings than regulating guns.

While I think it is a very good idea to reach out to people who are being left out, I have a number of objections to the thought that this could prevent isolated people from going on a shooting spree. Let's face it, the men are the ones committing mass murders, so I'll restrict my speculations to how this approach probably might not help an isolated young man.

Really, if you say hello to a moody isolated young man you run into at work or in your neighborhood, is that going to fix him?  People need to be authentically loved and included with other people, not in a condescending way.

We get grounded in love and security in our families, or not. Divorce, single parenting with children alone for long periods of time, parental alcoholism, promiscuity, drug use, small families, separation from extended family members in isolated nuclear families, these all can cause crippling feelings of loneliness in young people raised that way. 

Some who do not get what they need to feel loved at home are able to survive emotionally because of the acceptance of their peers. But many of those who are unloved-by-their-families are unhinged further by also being unaccepted-by-their peers.

Loneliness is agonizingly painful, and the pain is not going to be removed by a popular person saying hello to you in the hall. The isolated one is still going to be alone and craving what everyone else seems to have.  Real love, real friendship are what the isolated person needs, not just a cheerful hello. Besides, a lonely guy might just misinterpret a cheerful hello from a popular girl. It happens.

Since porn can prove even more enticing to an isolated young man than to a young man from a good loving home, the lonely one might think he just needs what the porn teaches him that everyone else is seemingly enjoying, sex for its own sake. He quite likely have an unreal idea that he should be able to get women to have sex in the manner described in this old saying, "Wham, bam, thank you ma'am."   A number of the recent shooters have complained about not being able to get girls. 

This is a huge topic, but let me summarize for now that I believe that the only real cure for someone wounded by isolation is for that person to be healed by coming to know the love of God. Sometimes when a person is broken, that person just cannot be mended by human means alone.

Praying for all who are isolated and painfully lonely would be better than just saying hi. Or at least you should pray for the person in addition to any acts of friendliness you might offer, because your greeting is not going to change anything much, while your prayer can make all the difference. And your prayer will also guide you into what would be the best way you can help the other person by your own efforts.  Avoid condescending, above all. You are being kind to Christ when you are kind to anyone else.

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Further thoughts about prevention.  Children are cruel to anyone who is different, lonely, isolated, doesn't conform, isn't as well off as they are, for any and all reasons, and they compete for popularity by mocking others --unless they are somehow trained to love one another.  I was impressed when I started teaching at a conservative Catholic home school academy.  One of the boys has cerebral palsy, and he limps.  In an amazing comparison to others I have seen in other school settings who have been shunned for being different,  his peers in the classroom and during recess treated him always with affection and absolute equality.  This child is not growing up full of pain from being rejected. He is actually in a pre-college seminary, where he is on the path to priesthood, a profession where he will be able to help others. 
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