Opinions, Writing

We’re Acting Like Animals? If Only We Could Be that Evolved.

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Another mass shooting occurred today at a small church in a small town in Texas.  At this time, at least 26 have died and the suspect has killed himself…again. Same story, same ending; again and Again and AGAIN!  How often? I checked on-line for statistics with the intention of going back 20 years.  I made it to 5 and my hand was aching from all the writing. Yes, 5, V, FIVE,🖐 years and I had found 18 incidents of violence in the United States where at least 3 people were killed in a related event on a given day.

Date                 Location                    Dead   Inj.   Susp. Sex   Susp. Dec’d?    Notes

  1.  11/05/2017  Sutherland Springs, TX      26     Many      M             Y      Church Shooting
  2.  10/01/2017  Las Vegas, NV                       50+   500+       M             Y      Concert Venue
  3.  06/14/2017  San Francisco, CA                3        0             M             Y      UPS Co-Wrkrs
  4.  06/05/2017  Orange County,FL                5        0             M             Y      Co-Wrkr Killing
  5.  01/06/2017  Ft Lauderdale, FL                5        6+           M             N      Airport Shooting
  6.  09/23/2016  Burlington, WA                    5        0             M             Y       Macy’s Store
  7.  07/08/2016  Dallas, TX                              5        9+           M             Y       5 Police Ofcr’s
  8.  06/12/2016  Orlando, FL                          49      58+         M             Y       Night Club
  9.  12/02/2015  San Bernardino, CA            14      22           M F          Y       Hus/Wife Killers
  10.  11/29/2015  Colorado Springs, CO         12       9+           M             N       Plan’d PrntH’d

Ok, that’s half of my five year list. I’ll stop at 2 years and 10 incidents; you get the point. The numbers suggest that we are not safe anywhere, that males are more likely to kill and that when they do, most likely they will commit suicide when cornered. It’s that last part that really defines us; animals don’t commit suicide. What’s wrong with us? That question is for a far greater mind than mine to answer.  I have a few thoughts though, actually cliche’s.

  1.  Growing up, I was told not to hurt people, “it’s what separates us from the animals”.
  2.  In Humor, regarding the treatment of pets, “Animals are people too”.
  3.  Humans? “Oh, we’re at the top of the food chain”.

Unfortunately, I feel that we’ve managed to fool ourselves into believing that we have actually evolved beyond that of, well…us.  Our ancestors, hoping that humanity would improve with the passage of time, set the bar too high. They hoped we would become more civilized, intelligent and maybe put down the club; I mean, we’re not animals, right? Some have suggested that it is our intellect that makes us superior to animals, I’m afraid that it has just made us more dangerous. Human evolution? At this pace, we are going to “evolve” ourselves right out of existence. What is wrong with us, why are we killing ourselves at a record pace? I suspect that the answer lies hidden somewhere within our “animal instinct”.

 

 

Opinions, Writing

Humanity, Violence and The Serengeti

Like many others, I’m struggling with the “why” regarding the recent shooting in Las Vegas.  Why did he do it?  Was he crazy, angry, frustrated or all/none of the above?  Was there a latent issue, perhaps a medical condition that caused him to take this action?  The general consensus, at this point, is that he was “crazy”.  He must have been, right?  The current evidence suggests that from the window of a hotel he shot and killed 59 people and wounded hundreds more.  Does that act alone define one as “crazy”?  Be careful here, there are many documented cases of military snipers who have each shot and killed at least as many people or more.  Most are described as heroes of their respective countries and the word “crazy” is absent from their biographies.  Aside from their military feats, most were considered to be “normal people”.

The Las Vegas shooter’s life history has been placed under a microscope as law enforcement searches for a reason, the “why”.  We, the people, need an adjective to separate him from “us”.  We need some reason: he was crazy, he was angry and frustrated, he was…, something that we, the “normal people”, are not.  He needs a label and law enforcement seems desperate to apply one.  As of now, his life appeared to be “normal”.  To the rest of us, that is terrifying and unacceptable.  He needs to be labeled, and soon.  To think that all of us “normal people” could be capable of this behavior is “not normal”.

What is “crazy”, what is “normal” and who or what decides the definitions?

Merriam-Webster.com defines the word “crazy” as “1. a: full of cracks or flaws, unsound b: crooked, askew 2. a: not mentally sound: marked by thought or action that lacks reason.  It continues in subcategories using words like “insane, impractical, erratic and unusual” and so on.

Normal is defined as “2. a: according with, constituting, or not deviating from a norm, rule or principle. b: conforming to a type, standard or regular pattern. 3. occurring naturally. 4. a: of, relating to, or characterized by average intelligence or development b: free from mental illness: mentally sound” and so on.

The common theme here is “mentally sound”; the word “crazy” suggesting that you’re not and the word “normal” suggesting that you are.  The dictionary defines “mentally sound” as “normal, sane”.

I suggest that the term “normal” is subjective.  Is it East coast normal, West coast normal, European, African, Russian or Iraq normal?  Talk about a broad spectrum!  I honestly have no idea if I’m even “normal”.  I’m reasonably sure that I’m not crazy, at least not normally.

Law Enforcement will keep digging and I’m quite certain that labels will be found and added.  We can then go back to feeling secure in the knowledge that he was different from us and definitely “not normal”.  I say that of course with a wink and a smile.

We can add all of the labels that we want and separate all of the people who, by their acts, are “different” than us.  But the sad reality is that we, the “normal people”, are really “not that normal” and are capable of anything and everything.  “Normal” people have had to go off to war and for a myriad of reasons, take human lives.  Some people have supported the death penalty and abortion, while others have not.  Death has been our constant companion throughout human history, always familiar and never far away, yet we still seem surprised when it occurs naturally and shocked when it is by our own hand or the hand of another.

I’m not suggesting that the shooter in Las Vegas should be pitied or his actions tolerated.  But, I am suggesting that we stop trying to always find excuses to separate “these” people from ourselves.  The reality is, they are us, an ugly reminder of what we are capable of as humans.  It would be nice to move forward as a species, to become less violent, but our track record suggests otherwise and morality cannot be legislated.  Aggression seems to be our default setting, being held in check only by a greater fear of punishment through the enforcement of laws and their subsequent penalties.  In other words, we don’t generally behave because we want to, we behave because we don’t like discomfort.

It’s the Serengeti out there and we’re nowhere near the top of the food chain.  We need to accept this as our reality, act accordingly and hope that evolution will move us in a peaceful direction.  To quote John Young, “If you want to see an endangered species, get up and look in the mirror”.