Daily Egyptian

Column: How to stop mass shootings

Sam+Beard%2C+Southern+Illinois+University+Carbondale+student+trustee+poses+for+a+portrait+Monday%2C+Feb.+26%2C+2018%2C+outside+of+the+communications+building+in+Carbondale%2C+Illinois.+%28Brian+Munoz+%7C+%40BrianMMunoz%29
Sam Beard, Southern Illinois University Carbondale student trustee poses for a portrait Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, outside of the communications building in Carbondale, Illinois. (Brian Munoz | @BrianMMunoz)

Sam Beard, Southern Illinois University Carbondale student trustee poses for a portrait Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, outside of the communications building in Carbondale, Illinois. (Brian Munoz | @BrianMMunoz)

Brian Munoz

Brian Munoz

Sam Beard, Southern Illinois University Carbondale student trustee poses for a portrait Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, outside of the communications building in Carbondale, Illinois. (Brian Munoz | @BrianMMunoz)

By Sam Beard, Student Trustee

Anguish, disbelief, terror, fury, pain, pain, pain, numbness.

These words do not give justice to the agony many of us felt, and continue to feel, in the wake of one of the deadliest school shootings in American history.

On Feb. 14, some wicked monster shot up Stoneman Douglas High School, slaughtering 17 students and staff.

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Possibly the most messed-up part of this whole thing is how regular of an occurrence these sorts of events have become, how “shock” doesn’t quite cover it anymore because it just keeps happening over and over and over again.

And in what has almost become typical fashion, people immediately and very publicly began searching for answers—arguing on the television, around the dinner table and in the comments section over the following questions:

“What is going on?!” “Why does this keep happening?” “How do we stop this from happening?”

Two seemingly incompatible answers always emerge from the fog. And each of the two embittered camps argue viscously over whether this is a gun-control issue or mental health crisis.

Unfortunately, both of these supposed understandings of the problem fail to unearth the root of just what is responsible for these horribly devastating acts of ultraviolence.

The question we should be asking is: “What is it about our society that produces such monsters?”

And as you begin to dig deeper you realize that the answer to that question is just about everything.

This keeps happening because American culture, capitalism and the state foster and encourage ideologies of oppression, like dominance, in the minds of men.

A term for this could be “toxic masculinity.”

According to an exhaustive report by Mother Jones, since 1982 a staggering 97% of American mass shootings have been committed by men.

Excluding shootings that stem from more conventional crimes like armed robbery or gang violence, their research focuses on “indiscriminate rampages in public places resulting in four or more victims killed by the attacker.”

And of the 97 incidents since 1982, 94 of the attackers have been men.

This is absolutely not a coincidence.

American men are indoctrinated from a tender age to be controlling, violent beings who are out-of-touch with their emotions.

Further, the patriarchy fashions a tacit (and sometimes explicitly stated) understanding that this world was built by and for men.

And men, especially white men, are told that we can have anything we desire in the world because on this fair Earth we are the rulers of our own destinies.

But as we shake-off the illusion of infinite possibilities that we took granted in our youth, we realize that it is all a lie.

We are left broken and baffled in the face of this newly felt feeling of powerlessness while being utterly unequipped to handle such an Earth-shattering realization.

We are raised to be so out of touch with ourselves, other people and the surrounding world that life itself is left devoid of any real meaning.

Moreover, an economic model premised on a falsely predicated idea that human nature is fundamentally competitive has made our relationships to one another inherently antagonistic.

We were told since birth that “it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there,” that we must dominate others, take all we can and develop a callousness towards one another.

To top it all off, hyper-masculinity and heteronormative gender roles program us to bottle-up and bury any and all signs of an emotional existence before others take note.

In other words, we are raised to be isolated, alienated and aggressive creatures, a state of being that prohibits any chance at all of self-satisfaction or human flourishment.

The socially-constructed, aggressive and resentful nature of an isolated, masculine existence coupled with this brand-new, unintelligible feeling of powerlessness one faces when confronted with “the real world” for the first time leaves these severely shattered creatures in a very, very dangerous place.

It’s not a lack of mental health resources, it’s a society that manufactures mentally ill individuals.

Now, it must be said that this is by no means justification for harming, let alone murdering innocent people. But rather seeks to shed light on where the root of the problem actually lies.

To point the finger at guns, while refusing to dig deeper is not only shallow but dangerous.

Yes, the only point of a gun is to shoot things, and most things shouldn’t be shot.

Yes, high-powered assault rifles make the slaughter of human beings easy as pushing a button.

But take away the guns and we are still left with a country where the youth is miserable, anxious and hopeless. We are still left with an unjust world where none of us are free but have been incessantly lied to since birth and told that we are.

There is a power structure that directly benefits from society being set up this way. A society that is founded upon lies about ourselves and relationships, a society that makes possible the creation of human beings so broken and evil that they lash-out like this.

The ruling class will attempt to control the conversation surrounding this because they don’t want us to discover whose fault this really is.

This is their fault.

So, how do we stop mass-shootings?

We develop a culture of community care, where we are actually allowed to define our own existences, where that lust for life that we all felt in our youth is nurtured into adulthood, where we can exist in that way that we did before they told us that we have to work for a living.

Student Trustee Sam Beard can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at (618) 453-8418. His office is located in the Registered Student Organization Suite on the third floor of the Student Center and his office hours are Mondays and Thursdays: 12:30 pm – 2 pm or by appointment.

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4 Comments

4 Responses to “Column: How to stop mass shootings”

  1. Ronald Dunkel on March 1st, 2018 9:48 am

    Great piece Sam. I believe this is worth 100 Random Tokens of Kindness. Nurture kindness, boycott those things that we consume that promote evil. We need to stop consuming, Movies, Video Games, and Toys that promote war, murder, rape, lust, revenge, and coveting your neighbor. I believe this violence is so connected to our basic (animal instinct) and awakened by these images and games. We need responsible parenting, bothering mothering by our society and self control. We can all step up and be our brother’s keeper.

  2. Richmond B Adams, Ph.D. English 2011 on March 1st, 2018 10:38 am

    Once again, the “answer” is another reason why, as a sane, employed, plausibly moral straight white male who goes to church, if the Republican party gave me any ground of reasonableness on which I could stand, I would gladly enlist with it. As it is, however,and even as those like Mona Charen, Peggy Noonan, Joe Scarborough, Max Boot, and several others have expressed, the Republican party and the conservative movement are so far removed from their roots through, as but one instance, advocating conspiracies (the current Chief Executive and his pedaling of the “birther” obscenity, and Roy Moore’s beyond belief abuse of the law and his personal power as recent examples), I have no alternative within the effective parameters of American politics but to remain a Democrat. In short, white men as racial and gendered constructs are not in ourselves to be blamed for every horror, sin, and form of oppression that has been come unto the world. To argue otherwise is to slide all too closely to the very mantras we as civilized people despise: racism and sexism.

  3. John on March 4th, 2018 1:37 pm

    Viscously? Having the property of viscosity? Are you sure you didn’t mean “viciously?”

  4. Sabrina Hardenbergh on March 5th, 2018 2:38 pm

    Speak out, Sam. No one needs to live in Ayn Rand kind of times, as some are seemingly attempting to “normalize” here locally, or across the country and globe.
    https://www.chronicle.com/article/There-Is-No-Case-for-the/242724?cid=cr&utm_source=cr&utm_medium=en&elqTrackId=7cb68250e2184cac8912a459ff6542f3&elq=c747e1f27d9f4824bd459df24d0ec33a&elqaid=18054&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=8031

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