It has been a sad few weeks. I feel like every time I look at the news, or turn on the radio, or scroll through the internet, I come across another report of another shooting, rape, or other heinous and devastating event. From the UCLA shooting, to the Stanford rape controversy, to the Pulse Nightclub massacre, it feels like hate and evil is permeating our culture in a way so ridiculously outright that it can't be anything other than a sign that we need to change the way we are living, acting, and relating to one another.
I'm sickened by the fact that I have to say "the most recent shooting," or even "today's shooting." I'm sickened by the fact that although the crimes being committed are shocking in their nature, I'm now hardly taken aback by their occurrence. I'm sickened by the fact that murder and violence have become ubiquitous in our culture, and yet nothing is changing.
I could get political about this- debate gun laws, politicians, who should or shouldn't be saying what we shouldn't or shouldn't do- but I feel that there is another, more insidious problem that is lurking under the surface demanding to be addressed. Something is happening, in the way we are raising our youth and treating our fellow man, that is causing evil to be extrapolated like never before.
People are not born wanting to kill other people.
I don't, can can't, believe this as a fact. We are born completely pure, innocent beings. We are born reliant on our parents to give us love, support, and nurturing. We are born with no preconceptions on race, gender, religion, or anything else that divides us as we age. As we grow older, we collect veils of ignorance that shield us from this innocent center. We become convinced that because someone or something is simply different from ourselves, we have a reason to reject it entirely. We begin to, perhaps unconsciously, accept the idea that because we disagree with something, we must refuse to associate, appreciate, or respect it for what it is.
What is causing people to feel as though they must hurt others?
When I see a shooter, I see sadness. When I see a mug shot, hear their story, I can only see the immense sadness and pain that must cause them to become a person so evil. Because no one is born evil- I don't believe there is such thing as a bad kid. It takes years, ages, of consistent pain and probing and neglect to allow such a powerfully negative transformation to take place.
And I say neglect because I believe this to be the most important factor. Someone can be bullied, someone can be exposed to evil, disgusting media and propaganda, someone can be indoctrinated into heinous beliefs, but if just one person cares enough to reach out and help guide this person towards love and compassion, they can be saved. I believe this, because it happens every day. People want, no, need attention. They need to be recognized, to be looked in the eye and told that they are loved and they are worthy of living a life that spreads that love. They need to be told that it is okay to release yourself from the constant, heavy burden that is hate and to live a life free of judgements and prejudices against others.
Why do you rape a person? Because you have never felt in control of your life and you now seek the one form of control that seems so easy and tangible and within reach. Why do you kill a person? Because you have hated yourself as long as you can remember and now you want to rid the world of someone you finally hate more than yourself. Why do you dedicate your life to telling others that their way of living, their way of loving, their way of shaping their identity is wrong? Because you feel wrong. You feel out of place. You need to make your way of living the way of living so that you can feel validated, justified, and empowered.
We cannot let people get to this state. We cannot allow people to become so powerless in their own lives that they feel they must take power over other's. We cannot let someone feel like the only way they can touch the world, be seen, be noticed is to play God and decide who lives and who dies. We need to start treating people like people so they do not become the animalistic devices of evil that are plaguing our society.
They way you talk to people matters. The way you speak to people matters. When you tell someone they are worthless they will believe you. When you tell someone they are a fag, they are worthless, they're a sin, they will believe you. It will permeate their soul, it will tear them down, bit by bit, until they become filled with all the little pieces of evil you have handed them.
That is how evil is created- it is never born.
When you speak evil, you are manifesting evil. When you allow someone to feel worthless you are allowing yourself to create a force of evil, someone who will spiral into the monsters we have now seen can and do steal lives and damage infrastructures.
When we share the faces of killers in our media, we are giving them the only thing they were hoping for, the only thing we've robbed them of time and time again throughout their lives: recognition and attention. Do not make these killers famous, do not utter their names, do not share their words. Do not allow people who are in dark places allow themselves to believe that violence and murder are appropriate ways to fill the voids in their souls.
Make their victims famous. Share their stories. Make it bitingly clear that the lives we have lost are gone forever, that we will never be touched by them again. Show what the true loss is of these events: human lives that were going to change this world.
All because, years and years ago, we allowed someone to believe they were not enough.
We need to change the way we live, the way our society operates. When George Washington delivered his farewell address to the United States, he warned us of the dangers of constructing political parties. I agree with him. What we've done is created a culture of "us vs them," allowed ourselves to ignore the fact that ultimately, no matter our race, religion, geographic location, gender, blood type or other arbitrary definition of individuality, we are all human. We are all creatures inhabiting this earth. We are all capable of loving, supporting, and uplifting one another.
Spread love. Accept others. Go beyond just tolerance and actively seek to understand and appreciate your fellow man. That is how we will destroy this vicious cycle, not debating over guns or TSA checkpoints or whether or not video games are too violent.
Give others a reason to be kind by being kind.
Evil is created, not born.