The Saturday paper is full of reports of violent events in my city, my country, Canada, my neighbour to the south, the USA, and in the world. “Why?” becomes the question and leads mainly to speculation about the perpetrators. Why did they do it? What are the causes? What is wrong with their families, their upbringing, their participation in gangs or their solitary withdrawal to video games, the gun laws – or the lack of them? A particularly tasteless but revealing comment in the Globe and Mail’s editorial is that there is “no magic bullet”. It shows how metaphorically bankrupt that we have really become. The reassurances from the TV are many as well. It’s not in our part of town. It’s the work of a single individual working alone. Our city, country or our world is really OK because all this is really about somebody else, somewhere else.
But is it? Are these the right questions?
Here are some others:
- Do we want a world where people are OK with depicted violence, but not with real violence – or a world where now people actually confuse the two?
- How do we really protect ourselves from fear of others and from anxiety?
- How do we deal best with complex issues rather than hearing simple solutions like a mayor suggesting that the bad guys be run out of town?
- How do we start with ourselves rather than assuming that others will solve the mess?
- How do we start to look for signs before the fact rather than after the fact? If it were known that one person bought three guns and several powerful rounds of ammunition in a two week span, might that have come to someone’s attention as just a bit abnormal?
- How do we recognize our own capacity for violence and develop ways to deal with it so that we can be a blessing rather than a burden to others?