I want to write about writing and books and how great it is to be productive again. But, then I read the news. Another shooting. Another act of violence. Another story about someone dying because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or because they are at the end of their rope and think that their only option is to take someone with them for a cause.
As a writer, I try and use empathy to drive the emotions of my fictitious characters and the branded writing of my day job. Given a particular situation, how would a person feel? So, when I see these stories (police shooting innocents, people shooting police, religious zealots slaughtering as many people as they can), I immediately try and put myself into the shoes of the aggressor:
How did we get here? How on earth did we arrive at this very moment of action? What small event triggered the cascade that eventually led to this one? When was the point of no return? When did this become inevitable? When did this decision, this plan, this action, become the logical choice? Or the only choice?
My Mom used to say, “Well, some people are just sick in the head.” I don’t buy that. These things that have filled our news feed over the last weeks, months, years… they’re not random acts carried out by madmen. They’re planned and plotted by people whose algorithm for life has led to this final question and the only answer is Yes.
I can’t answer the ‘Why?’ of it all. I don’t know. I’m not there. I’m a white male in my early 40s who has a good job and a steady family life. My complaints are few and relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I don’t feel oppressed. I don’t feel like I’m treated negatively based on the color of my skin. I’m not afraid to go to work and do my job. I don’t worry about my safety every moment of every day. I don’t feel like entire countries are trying to destroy my religion. But, there are people who do feel this way… and not just as a passing thought. It dominates their lives.
Now, before someone claims that, by empathizing, I’m agreeing with their actions. Not in the least. I’m trying to raise a child in this world. And, as I’ve always told him, violence is not the way. But, merely condemning violence without trying to see the root cause is foolish. Through empathy, we can begin to try and understand, hard as it might be, what drives us all as human beings. Why we make the decisions we make. Why we do the things that we do. A little more understanding from everyone could go a long way toward making this a world where mass shootings and destructive violence are a thing of the past.
Thanks for stopping by and listening to me waffle on. Have a peaceful day.