08 Oct Guns, Mental Illness, and Feminism

The headlines that break my heart…45th shooting this year or 150+ shootings since Sandy Hook or the one about more preschoolers killed by gunfire than….or when the guilty dominate the media and the victims remain faceless…

All of these statistics are disgusting, disturbing, and an obvious cultural problem. I don’t believe there is one simple answer; yet, many are wasting time, energy, and money on arguing that one simple legislative change or the awareness of abusing pharmaceutical pills will stop this. What needs to be changed is our compassion.

We get it, guns and mental illness play a role, but they are not the sole elements in preventing further outcries from desperate individuals. It is the village that needs correcting. It is the love that needs increasing. It is education that needs promoting. It is the excess of indifference and the lack of compassion which needs to improve.

Guns

No matter what your take on gun control, we cannot deny the amount of deaths by gunfire in the recent years. It is horrifying to think of an innocent child slowly dying from a gunshot wound inflicted by a stranger. Or if you think of how many females are controlled and abused through the use and sight of a gun. A threatening and pathetic problem.

Guns not only kill, but also are used for coercive means by violent individuals. Yet, eliminating guns will not solve this problem of mass shootings. People will still have access and millions of guns will still be out in the market. It is not realistic to solely blame guns or believe they will end this violent trend. This is only one problem.

If you look at the trends regarding mass shooting, they tend to be carried out by white males. I interpret this as a power issue, an envisioning of “the more I kill, the more infamous I will be.” White men are not the only ones killing, but they do dominate killings of four or more. This is a problem.

Mental Illness

One spectrum of the mental piece related to violence is “man shaming.” Our culture is notorious for ignoring and shaming men who show emotion, cry, or demonstrate any sensitivity or weakness. We need to accept and raise men who feel; men who feel comfortable expressing. Men should be encouraged, as woman are, to engage in deep and meaningful conversations. We, in the USA, need to promote kindness, acceptance, and open conversation for men and women. This is our problem.

Let me digress to women for a moment because most gun violence is not driven by women, yet it is directed at women. This is one more connection to feminism, but the key factor in connecting feministic views is how we culturally treat emotions. In recent years women’s “emotions” have been shamed and the media and drug companies are trying to stop the presence of “feelings” by depleting the stigma of taking a pill to stop one’s emotions. I quote these because the definition is open. We need to stop saying women are too emotional and stop shutting down women’s emotions. It should be okay for women to express emotions, which will lead to a wider acceptance of men showing emotion. It should be okay if women cry, sound like a bitch, and release feelings. We should not promote more pills to cover up mood swings, emotions, or spontaneous bitch-dom…this is not the problem.

The problem is we don’t all need to be the same nor should one be shamed for taking pills, seeing a counselor, or trying to improve themselves. The pills that have been related to violent killings is a small percent, yet alarming in its connection, of those taking drugs. Mental illness comes in endless forms and medication is not solely to blame. The solution is just not that simple, yet I believe we should build a culture where everyone can voice their pain without it being a problem.

In my opinion, I don’t think there is one solution. I believe that if we start young and build more love and compassion into our society, into our schools, into our media (because it dominates the pop cultural-tech-sphere of uncontrolled education) then we might have a chance. We would have a chance to save more individuals, help more people who are having problems, and help them understand that it is acceptable to ask for help and receive help. This seems like a more plausible long-term solution.

If time and money are no longer wasted on one-sided empty solutions, then those individuals and money could be put to bettering our children and raising a new generation of more compassionate, open-hearted individuals. Maybe this would be a solution, but unlikely until adults can come to terms that we have more in common than not. In the meantime, I will seek to help and loves those around me in my small village. I will hope one day our larger village will get it.

Stefani is a mother, writer, and educator. She is trying to rear her children with the greatest sense of humor and an open mind. Her writing has been featured on Bonbon Break, The Good Mother Project, Three Line Poetry, Mommy, RN, Mock Mom, and TODAY Parenting.
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