It’s Bigger Than Gun Control

December 16, 2012

Our collective hearts are broken.  Many are calling, once again, for legislated gun control.  How many have to die before we human beings grow up?

How does this happen?  Yes, we need to legislate gun control.  Why on earth does anyone need automatic weapons?  Yes, we need to provide services to identify and care for the mentally ill for their protection and for ours.  And I believe these issues are not dealt with because we have a bigger problem. 

Dr. Sharif Abdullah says we are a society starved of emotional and spiritual nutrition.  He says we are a culture that does not recognize soul pain and society’s role in causing it.  I see this in these ways:

Our souls are numbed by rampant violence.  Cartoons teach our children to blast the enemy with guns and lasers with no apparent lasting damage. Television and movies glamorize emotional and physical violence in sitcoms and dramas.  News programs repeat image after image of war and destruction.  We are deluged by violence in the media because it SELLS. 

Our souls are numbed by lives empty of meaning.  Many are unable to find any work at all much less work that sustains our family and offers a sense of purpose.  We turn to instant gratification and greed and reactivity.  Buy more to be beautiful and sexy.  Buy more to get the latest gadget.  Buy more to fill the voids in our lives. 

Our souls are numbed by loneliness. We run from family dysfunction. We run from connections that once held us. We move from place to place. To whom and to what do we belong?  Where do we turn when life gets us down?  Who comforts us in our loneliness? 

I see these symptoms in the paper every day.  I see the fear and despair in youth I teach.  I hear the loneliness and anxiety in adults I work with.  Where and how do we begin to heal ourselves and our world?

Susan Cain, in the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, reports that the beginning of the 20th century brought the end of a Culture of Character and the beginning of a Culture of Personality.  What that means to me is that as a culture we stopped living lives of meaning, purpose, and integrity and began living lives of presentation and appearance. It’s an interesting distinction.

 Dr. Abdullah offers ways to return to character and meaning.  I urge you to read his article.  I will be offering my own ideas in future postings.



2 Responses to “It’s Bigger Than Gun Control”

  1. Well said. I look forward to more.

  2. Thank you for saying this, Gretchen. I too have felt this unease with the sole focus being on gun control. Of course, no one should have automatic weapons. But there are deeper problems at hand as well.

    Last night, my partner and I discussed over the dinner table the role of video games and violence in all of this. It seems obvious, but it is not being much talked about in the news.

    I do think that if someone feels a lack of meaning and purpose in their life, and they feel alone in the world, they are more likely to do something like this.

    We do need to remember that this horrible tragedy points to many root causes, all of which need to be addressed.


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