Stimulated by the argumentative persuasiveness of the Kepler assault on the earth-centered world view, in a recent post I examined the highly-rated Establishment spokesman Charles Krauthammer’s op-ed, containing what I called the Constipated World Picture and ending with the words:
But there’s a cost. Gun control impinges upon the Second Amendment; involuntary commitment impinges upon the liberty clause of the Fifth Amendment; curbing “entertainment” violence impinges upon First Amendment free speech.
That’s a lot of impingement, a lot of amendments. But there’s no free lunch. Increasing public safety almost always means restricting liberties.
We made that trade after 9/11. We make it every time the TSA invades your your body at the airport. How much are we prepared to trade away after Newtown?
You’re forever tightening the screws in this world picture, you see? All the stress is on the ethically negative. “Increasing public safety . . . always means restricting liberties.” “How much are we prepared to trade away . . .?”
That’s the Constipated World Picture. The Green World Picture starts with an act of compassion. You make it in order to comprehend the depth of loosening of moorings that accompanies the transplantation from a Constipated World Picture to the Green one.
You feel within your heart compassion for the anger-fueled suicides. That is where Sharif Abdullah begins.
Anger-Fueled Suicides: A Roll Call of Infamy:
- Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook Elementary), 26 dead, unknown number of wounded. Suicide.
- Jacob Roberts (Clackamas Mall), 2 dead, 1 wounded. Suicide.
- James Holmes (Aurora Mall), 12 dead, 59 wounded. Captured alive.
- Wade Page (Sikh Temple), 6 dead, 4 wounded. Suicide.
- Harris and Klebold (Columbine High School), 13 killed, 21 injured. Double suicide.
- Kip Kinkel (Springfield High School), 2 dead, 24 wounded. Captured alive.
Unless we start doing things differently, the list will get longer. For every shooter that acts, there are 100, or 1,000, who are suiting up and getting their guns. Unless we respond to the real motivations, the real pain, generated by a society that does not work, these anger-fueled suicides will become as common as traffic jams.
We are not looking to Be Safe. We sense a level of pain within the young mass murderers among us. Sharif Abdullah writes of these suicides, these tortured spirits who commit these crimes,
They certainly did not start out bad. These shooters, in 16 to 20+ years, went from being cuddly, happy, laughing babies and smiling children to homicidal and suicidal maniacs.
We accept these lost souls as of equal worth with our own ; we share a common humanity. When we sense a spiritually empty existence within them, Sharif Abdullah says,
I say this from experience. I was clearly in the single digits when I recognized that something was fundamentally wrong with the world. Like the shooters, I had no language to articulate the emptiness that sat in my chest like a gaping hole, the sense that I was in the world completely alone.
Unlike the shooters, I was lucky. Part of my “luck” was being raised poor and black in Camden, NJ, America’s underbelly. Being raised in the Sixties, a time of “black consciousness”. I could label the emptiness in my chest “racism”, and therefore had a focus for my anger and rage.
We can attach personal meaning to fighting enemies. It’s one way to leave childhood behind. But the stance of fighting enemies all the time stops you from dreaming. You need your dreams for the formation of a meaningful life.
It is important for us to dream. Research has shown that if a person is denied dreams, they go psychotic really, really quickly. We live in a psychotic society because we have been denied our communal dreams. We’ve been denied the dreams that we hold in common, we have been denied our experience of Transcendence.
Dreams create within us a spiritual hunger.
The “Hunger for the Sacred” is the thing that drives us to community with each other. The “Hunger for the Sacred” is the thing that drives us to communion with the natural world. The “Hunger for the Sacred” is the thing that drives us toward union with the Divine, whatever your concept of the Divine may be.
The fact that our present society is spiritually dead can be deduced from the way we treat murderous suicides:
In the face of our youth dying inside for lack of soul and transcendence, what do we do? We commission blue ribbon panels to study the causes of youth violence, or we try to control the sale and ownership of guns. This is like trying to control the epidemic of youth suicide by outlawing razor blades. In short, the leaders of this society have no idea what to do.
Have you heard any Presidential candidate, Democrat, Republican or Independent, mention our out of control suicide rate? Even once? Have you heard any federal or state official acknowledge what is sitting right in front of our faces?
Without trading away long-established Constitutional civil liberties, we can seek meaning in our own lives and convey to young people, but especially to young men, how constructively to serve the community in which they live. We might not, with those applications of compassion, solve the problem; but we will have acted toward a solution. Here is another example:
We need to do a reality check of our own situational perceptions in labeling men (and yes it is almost always men and we need to confront that too), who kill and their victims, because regardless of where killing takes place and who pulls the trigger, dead is dead, killing is killing, whether it is children in Pakistan killed by a drone strike or children in a Connecticut suburb killed by a disturbed young man, and the grief of their loved ones is the same, no matter what their skin color is or where they live.
That is the Green World Picture in action.