Let Your Let Shine #UnitedWeStand #PrayfortheWorld

Let your light shine in the face of terror, hatred, and evil. Only if we stand united in love, will our inner light be able to banish this great darkness from the world. Not just the “Western world,” but the entire planet. Violence, suffering, and hate spread like a sickness throughout of planet.

Solidarity in the Face of Terror- Let Your Light Shine

We must stand in solidarity not just with France, but with all those who have been attacked. Terrorism is bred of hatred. Violence begets violence. It longs to cast its darkness upon the world. It is the evil not of one religion or race or nation, but of those who love violence and cling to their blind hatred above all else. It murders and violates the innocent. It drives families from their homes. If allowed, it will poison humanity, brother against brother. Standing in solidarity with one another, we can lend each other strength to brave this darkness together.

Seeing places like Paris or New York or London hit by terrorism provokes more attention because we have grown painfully numb to daily battles faced by the innocent citizens of the Middle East. But we have to realize that an attack on humanity anywhere is an attack on us all. How can we claim inalienable rights, given to us by God, if we allow those human rights to be continuously violated?Pray for

Terrorism wants to strip away our sense of home. Home. What does that word mean? Yes, it is a space you live in, but it is so much more. It is our shelter, our security. It is a place we share with our family. The place we invite our friends. Stealing a person’s home, forcing them out with violence and fear. It takes away the person’s sense of security and disrupts their family. It violates the sacred space meant to shelter you from the outside world. In the end, this leaves in those still in their own homes in a state of fear.

Pray for the World

#PrayfortheWorld

These deaths, this violence, and chaos do not honor God, Allah, or Yahweh. The God who brought order into the universe in the act of creation, who gave law to his people, who taught love and forgiveness. No the only god honored by terrorism is the god of darkness, bloodlust, and chaos who sows evil into the heart of men. Intoxicated with power, blinded by hatred, people have been led astray feeling justified in their self-righteousness. But in the end their lives are claimed by this violence too.

Good people with good hearts, we need to stand together. We are stronger united. Standing against violence and injustice. Terrorism violates rights to life, liberty, and home. It extinguishes all hopes of happiness, replacing them with fears. Global solidarity standing together against terrorism isn’t the perfect solution for ending acts of violence and hatred around the world, but it is the answer to defeating terrorism.

Terrorist win when we are living in terror. Feeling cut off, alone, in constant danger. While changing your Facebook status or my making social media post may seem futile, these are powerful symbolic tools amplifying our voice. We can share love and respect, standing together in solidarity against this violence and hatred strengthens all of us. We fight the darkness by letting our light shine. Together we can light the world.

we are all in this together

Gunman Suicide – A Social Illness

The media storm follow the Newton school shooting has left our nation with heavy hearts and that unanswerable question “but why…?”  The shooting occurred the day left Dallas heading home for Arkansas to spend my Christmas break with my family.  These incidents which have become all too frequent always leave me initially dumbfounded, but as the social scientist in the family people expect me to have a more educated response than a look of horror on my face.  Within hours of the shooting Facebook and Twitter was aflame with arguments for gun control and explanations of mental illness.  I found myself driving home in the dark and trying to explain to my father on the cell phone that it was “more complicated than that”.

Do we blame guns?  Do we blame mental illness? Do we blame the media or video games?  Do we blame American culture itself?

Part of the reason it is “more complicated than that” for me to explain to my father or most of the people I grew up with for that matter, is that Living Anthropologically’s simple answer “measures to reduce and restrict the weaponry” would begin a debate met by deaf ears.  Saying the word “gun control” to a hunter is the equivalent of saying “Internet censorship” to a member of anonymous.  Certain topics trigger a panicked emotional response that jumps to the worst case scenario first.  I know that restrictions on semi-automatics and hand guns is not the equivalent of a universal gun ban, but both the audience and the bigger picture need to be kept in mind.  The weapon of choice is definitely one way to tackle the problem, especially if you see no use for the device,  but it doesn’t fix the “why” which can always find a new outlet.

In his Neuroanthropology blog Daniel Lende reminds us that “Mentally ill patients are not more violent than anyone else.” and “Guns don’t shoot themselves.”  in his response to the two easy answers which have been put forth by the media and the public following the Newton shootings.

Follow the Aurora shooting, David Dobbs argued that “Culture shapes the expression of behavioral traits. The traits don’t rise inherent as an urge to play basketball or a plan to shoot up a Batman movie. A long conversation between the trait and the surrounding culture shape those expressions. Culture gives the impulse form and direction.”

In talking to my father who is very anti-gun control, I realized that there is a very big difference between a hunter and a gunman.  Friend and follow Arkansan, Justin Snook makes a similar connection in his blog post Guns and Games, when he says “I learned to treat a gun sensitively and reverently whether it was in my own hand or someone else’s.”  Growing up in rural Arkansas my first experience with guns did not come from video games or even TV.  I remember being between 2 and 3 years old and my dad letting me pull the trigger on his .22 while he held the gun.  As I got older both of my parents always re-enforced strict rules and behaviors relating to guns.  Guns were always present in my household, but they were also always serious.  The first rule I remember my mother telling me was to never go near the place my dad kept his guns unless he was with me.  The first rule I remember my father telling me about guns was to never point one at anything or anyone I didn’t want to kill, whether I thought the gun was loaded or not.   Guns were to be respected and were only used to hunt.  My brother, sister, and I were taught that what we did with a gun was our responsibility.  But this is not part of how most Americans are raised.  While hunters-ed is required for hunting licenses it is not required to own a gun.  You have to take two exams to drive a car but all you need is a background check to own a gun.  This means that unlike me, many Americans are taught about guns by TV, movies, and video games.  These media are artistic expressions of our culture so it is hard to blame them in and of themselves.  Films no longer warn that “you’ll shoot your eye out” and instead depict firearm novices becoming epic heroes by picking up a gun.  People who have never witnessed anything larger than a spider die are allowed to own hand guns designed for shooting people and even semi-automatic weapons designed to shoot everything insight.

If the people using them and how they are used, not the guns themselves are at the center of the “but why …?” question, then we that we are to blame.  A cultural dialogue which allows people to assign the blame to others instead of accepting responsibility makes it possible for the gunman suicide phenomenon to become an accepted cultural script.

A young man (statistically most are males) has bad relationships with his family.  He becomes/feels disenfranchised.  He is alienated from his community and he begins to blame all the people in his life for how terrible his life is.  That blame turns to hate and when he cannot take it anymore and is ready to end it all by killing himself he turns to the pre-existing techniques his culture has provided.  Going out in a blaze of glory, maximizing his ability to hurt those who he blames for his state, and regaining control of his life in a hyper-masculine villainous act.   Gunman suicide becomes the last desperate attempt at significance.

Lende argues that “If we’re going to think of violence as a sickness, then it is its own type of sickness, different in kind and in expression from the mental and physical ailments that also possess us. Violence is red in tooth and claw, seemingly primordial, until we recognize how socially regulated it is.”

My best explanation is that the gunman suicide phenomenon is a social illness rather than a mental or physical one.  These gunmen which have become all too common are suffering from a lack of the social components necessary to be healthy in body and mind.  It is a social illness in that these gunmen are men who society has failed and in that the illness harms society itself.  It takes the lives of the incident’s victims, it wrecks havoc on the lives of the victims families and the community, but it also traumatized us as a nation, as a globally connected world.  The gunman is ground zone of the social illness, proving to us that in this hyper-connected and highly visible age a ticking time bomb can still remain in plain sight.