I am considered to be a stress management consultant and a humorist. But I am also an advocate for inner peace, world peace, compassion and empathy for self and others. Most people expect me to write about things that will make them laugh, but I have a great need to comment on the violence that has become so much a part of the American culture and the apathy that is associated with it.
How did the American way of life become so contaminated with fear of being gunned down in places that heretofore were considered safe? Who would ever imagine that while you were watching a movie someone would decide to open fire and kill dozens of people? How could anyone think that an individual could murder children, their teachers and principal while they innocently attended school? How about Representative Gabrielle Gifford and her constituents? Has she simply become lost in our memories in lieu of the slaughters that have come after her? And the carnage continues with the shootings of thirteen individuals in Washington DC.
As a result of all the above schools are now hiring security guards, some malls have soldiers patrolling them, and it is not unusual to have signs that say that all your bags are open to be inspected. In other words, ‘be aware you could be in danger no matter where you go”. Fear escalates the stress response and I know for a fact that stress has grown exponentially over the last twenty years. Yes the economy is a factor, and the constant busyness. But as more and more mass murders are committed we begin to consistently feel hyper vigilante. A physical condition that creates anxiety and depression. In America today millions of people are on some type of anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication.
Were we safer when I was growing up. Certainly we never had the need to fear being shot in a movie or in our schools or any other place unless the Mafia was after one of us. We did fear the atom bomb being dropped on us by Russia. But that fear only surfaced when we had drills in school and had to hide under our desks. Which in retrospect can certainly be seen as ludicrous.
Perhaps it’s time to have Town Hall dialogues that try to come up with solutions to stop what has become “violence as usual”. We seem to spend a lot of effort figuring out how to stop violence in other countries, maybe we should take some of that energy and put it into intervening in what is becoming part of the “American nightmare”.