Why Mass Shootings Happen and What We Can Do as Individuals

Dark Knight Rises

“The Dark Knight Rises”, the third in the trilogy of the latest Batman films, premiered yesterday, 20 July. What was supposed to be a happy day for Batman fans turned out to be a tragedy as a gunman opened fire, killed 12 people, and injured 58 others at one of the midnight premieres in Aurora, Colorado. (It’s now referred to as the 2012 Aurora Shooting.)

Today’s post isn’t to cast blame on the killer; neither is it to point figures at anybody (be it the movies industry, the media, video games, or anything). In light of such a tragedy, I thought it would be helpful to write a piece to understand the psychology of such an incident, make sense out of it, and identify what we can do as a society and as individuals to prevent further incidents like this from happening in the future.

Deepest Condolences

First off, I would like to express my deepest condolences to those impacted by Aurora Shooting — the victims, the loved ones, and those who might have known them. I cannot begin to even understand the pain and suffering you must be going through now. I’m terribly, terribly sorry for your loss and you and your loved ones are definitely in my heart right now. I hope you will be able to pull through this painful time. Please do not be afraid to reach out to me or others around you for help if you need to.

Not the First: Deadly Shootings around the World

I guess this shooting really begs the question, “Why?”

Because this isn’t the first shooting (in world history), and I seriously do not think that it will be the last. There was the Fort Hood Shooting three years ago (2009) in Texas which killed 13 and injured 29 others; there was the Virginia Tech massacre in Virginia in 2007 which killed 32 and wounded 17 others; then there was the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado in 1999 which killed 13 and wounded 21.

In case anyone is to think this is strictly an American issue, think again. There have been many deadly shootings in other parts of the world as well, such as the 2011 Norway attacks which killed 77 people and injured over 300, the Azerbaijan State Oil Academy shooting (Baku) in 2009 which took 13 lives (including the killer who committed suicide), the Jokela school massacre (Finland) in 2007 which took nine lives (including the killer), the Erfurt massacre (Germany) in 2002 which killed 17 (again, including the killer), and the Port Arthur massacre (Australia) in 1996 which killed 35 and wounded 23.

In total, deadly mass shootings in the world, including the recent Aurora Shooting, add up to 20 (from 1966 through 2012). And that’s just looking at only the deadliest shootings. If we include other kinds of shootings, the number goes up dramatically. For example, the wikipedia page for “Spree shootings in the United States” has a whooping 57 pages listed, representing 57 incidents.

Why Tightening Gun Laws Will Not Solve the Problem

In light of such an issue, the most immediate course of action would be to tighten gun laws. It does look like the pressure is on as dozens of gun-control groups have already released statements to President Obama, advocating for stricter gun laws, though it seems that the gun laws are unlikely to change for now.

While I think that gun laws should be tightened as an immediate step, I think that it is only one part of a holistic, long-term solution. Ultimately, the shootings themselves aren’t really the issue; it’s the underlying circumstances that have led to the shootings that we need to concern ourselves with.

Otherwise, even if we are to ban all the firearms in the world, the underlying issue would manifest in different ways. For example: People killing others using other means, such as using chemicals, self-made explosives, conventional weapons, etc. Another example would be higher suicide rates, which is actually an issue in Asian countries such as South Korea (#2 on the list of top countries by suicide rate), Japan (#7), China (#7), Hong Kong (#26), and to a certain extent, India (#43) and Singapore (#44).

My friend, who just returned from a 1.5 year job stint in Japan, told me that train services in Japan would come to a standstill on a weekly basis due to civilians committing suicides by jumping onto the train tracks. The saddest thing is that these weekly (public) suicides are nothing but part of an everyday occurrence in the lives of Japanese. Everyone knows that it has been happening, everyone is used to it, and everyone knows that it will continue to happen in time to come.

Understanding the Psyche of the Perpetrators (Dealing with the Root Cause)

Rather than solve the problem on the surface, we should dig deep into the problem and try to understand what it is that has been leading to the incidents. Otherwise, they are only going to occur again and again. Be it in one year, two years, or three years, these reckless crimes (not just mass shootings) will continue to surface in the society.

The motivations for past shootings vary from case to case, but I did see a trend among the perpetrators, in that they:

  1. Experienced deep emotional issues. These issues were at times the result of high school bullying, though not always. These issues usually left them feeling antagonized, sidelined, repressed, and helpless/victimized.
    • Bullying cases: The perpetrator in the Virginia Tech massacre had trouble speaking since young and was often bullied for his speech difficulties. The perpetrators in Columbine High School were allegedly victims of bullying for four years.
    • Other cases: In the Erfurt massacre, the perpetrator was expelled from school without qualifications, which left him in a state of victimhood and hopelessness surrounding his future. In Jokela school massacre, the perpetrator felt deep contempt for humanity and wanted to eliminate “stupid, weak-minded people”. In Fort Hood Shooting, the perpetrator was said to be upset about his deportment to Afghanistan.
  2. Were unable to properly process their emotional issues. 
    • In each case, the perpetrator(s) were unable to properly resolve their emotional issues and did not have anyone to turn to. In the end, they took to shooting to resolve their problems.

I also want to add that almost all the mass shootings were planned; they weren’t the result of moments of outrage or loss of control. The one in Jokela school massacre even posted videos on YouTube “announcing” the massacre prior to the shooting. This meant that the underlying emotional issues had probably brewing for a while before the perpetrators finally decided that they had had enough and it was time to “end it all”.

I believe that when someone resorts to killing to solve a problem, it suggests that the person is already at his/her wit’s end. The killing is the perpetrator’s last cry for help; a last bid attempt to get someone’s attention. This is evidenced by the Azerbaijan, Jokela, and Erfurt shootings where the perpetrators shot themselves after they were done with their crimes. They knew that mass shooting was the “last act” for them and that by taking this path, there was nothing left for them afterward but death.

Empathizing with the Perpetrators

The interesting thing is that when I was reading up on the perpetrators’ stories, it didn’t feel like they were any different from people like you and I. It felt that they were victims of bad circumstances, but rather than work through their problems consciously like we would, they chose to address their pain by inflicting pain on others (a situation of force over power, which you can read more in the Map of Consciousness).

The more interesting thing is that I could easily see any of us slipping into such a position, if we were not careful.

An Incident: A Molester’s Appeal for Help

When I shared my molestation encounter last year, a molester actually responded.

In the comment, he referred to himself as a victim who needed help. He shared graphic details of how he had molested girls since childhood, including his own siblings, and how he really wanted to stop his actions but he couldn’t. He urged me to recognize molesters (and not just the molested) as victims who need help too.

I’ve to admit that when I first read his comment, I was utterly disgusted. While the logical side of me could see where he was coming from, I didn’t want to “hear” his plea. I really couldn’t find it anywhere in my heart to acknowledge his predicament, especially given that (a) I’m female, (b) I had been the victim of several molestation encounters (as I had shared in the article), and (c) those encounters could have easily damaged me permanently if I had not processed those feelings in a healthy manner.

To me, the idea that a molester would proclaim himself a victim was laughable. “What do you mean you couldn’t/can’t control yourself? Get a grip! You are hurting another human being because of your inability to resolve your issues, for crying out loud! Your actions are inexcusable!” These were some of the thoughts that ran through my mind.

Not having anything to say to him, I chose not to respond. A reader did respond to him with some constructive thoughts, which I was grateful for, because at least he would have some ideas to work with in overcoming his problem.

Today as I write this post, and as I try to understand the motivations of perpetrators, I realize that I might have been missing something when I chose to ignore that guy. I begin to understand that perpetrators, including molesters, bullies, and murderers, are actually victims in a way.

I’m in no way condoning their actions though; just because these perpetrators are victims of their circumstances do not justify their actions. I’m also not saying that these individuals should go scot-free; justice should still be enforced for the crimes they have committed and the pain they have inflicted on others.

However, by seeing their side of the story, by trying to understand why they do/did what they do/did, it helps us to understand the source of the problem (vs. just punishing them), which in turn moves us one step closer toward solving the problem.

An Interview with Child Molesters

Oprah once conducted an intense interview with four child molesters. The 2-hour interview shared intimate details of the psyches of these molesters, as well as graphic descriptions of how they committed the crimes.

While I felt the interview focused too much on the details of the crimes rather than provide resolution to the issue of child molestation (it possibly even provided potential molesters ideas on how they could molest kids), it is quite an eye-opening interview, in that it helps us understand the issue from the perspective of the perpetrators.

If I recall correctly, the molesters themselves had been victims of sexual abuse when they were younger. They never did process their issues fully though, which led them to enact these crimes onto others—some being their own kids. I do not respect these individuals for what they did to their victims; however I am respectful of them for having the courage to admit their wrongdoings, at the risk of public backlash and contempt.

You can view the 2-hour interview here: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

What We Can Do as a Society, as Individuals: 5 Baby Steps

My point here, really, is that rather than point fingers at perpetrators and criminals as the supposed “bad guys” of the society, perhaps it might help if we were to ask ourselves what we, as a society, could do to change the situation. As Gandhi himself said before, “Be the change you want to see in the world.

Here are five thoughts I have on how we can start changing things at the individual level:

  1. Let go of the punishment mentality, and focus more on resolution instead.
  2. Realize that there are no “bad” guys. Everyone has a reason that drives him/her to do what he/she does.
  3. Less focus on actions that only patch the problem without solving it. More focus on (a) discovering the root cause(s) behind each problem, and (b) addressing the root cause(s).
  4. Be more empathetic toward the people in your life, be it nasty people, snarky people, or rude people.
  5. Be ready to lend a helping hand to those who need it. Many people around us need help; it’s a matter of whether we are ready to help them.

Update: Some readers seemed to have interpreted my five steps above as an advocation for no punishment to the perpetrators in question (the shooting). That isn’t what I’m trying to say here.

I definitely see the justice system as part of a short-term solution (along with tightening of gun laws), to be enforced in line with a series of long-term measures (as I mentioned earlier in the article). I think at the individual level though, as we work toward the long-term ideal (no such reckless shootings; people being able to consciously deal with their problems), it’s important that we start shifting to a no-punishment mindset and start embracing on total resolution of the issue instead. The five steps above are directions to work with as we transit to the long-term ideal.

Applying the 5 Steps: An Example

Say you have an absolutely horrid team leader at work whom you hate. Here’s how you can apply the five steps:

  1. Stop thinking about how you can “get back” at this team leader. Think about how you can resolve the conflict between both of you instead.
  2. Your nasty team leader isn’t a bad person. There’s probably something that’s making him behaving this way.
  3. The issue here is that you do not get along well with him. Actions that only patch the problem include avoiding him (since you have to work with him), quitting your job, and requesting for a job rotation. Actions that may address the problem include learning not to take things personally, learning to see the message of what is communicated (beyond the words), and improving your relational skills. Read: 8 Helpful Ways To Deal With Critical People and How to Deal with Rude People.
  4. Understand why he acts the way he does. Bad childhood? Lack of love? Under-appreciation by others? Knowing this may help you to relate to him better.
  5. Is there anything the team leader needs help in? How can you assist him? Separately, are there any acts of kindness you can do for him, without expecting any repayment? (Members of Be a Better Me in 30 Days Program would recall Acts of Kindness as the task for Day 14. Have you been upholding such acts on a daily basis?)

Final Words

I think everything, in life, starts with us. Fingerpointing does little to solve the problem. Understanding the source of the issue, and taking action to address it at the individual level, will.

I’ve written an article, Are You Emotionally Generous?, on embracing emotional generosity in our lives. I recommend you to read it if you haven’t.

Once again, my sincere condolences to anyone who have been hurt by the recent Aurora shooting or any shootings in the past. My heart goes out to you and you and your loved ones are in my prayers.

If you would like to offer your condolences and well wishes to the victims of the Aurora shooting or any related past incidences, please do so in the comments section.

Image: Batman

  • Jean

    You’ll find that the people who commit these kinds of crimes share a common theme – anti-depressants. We will probably find out very soon that this latest killer was taking taking anti-depressants as well. To be followed I’m sure about the complaint that he wasn’t taking them when he should have been. It’s a sorry and pathetic subject. Read anything by former pharmaceutical rep Gwen Olsen. Here’s a link I found: http://thevreelandclinic.wordpress.com/2010/09/15/confessions-of-a-pharmaceutical-sales-rep/

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Whether they are taking anti-depressants or not still points to the same thing though – they had issues which they were unable to rectify, which subsequently led to depression (for some), possibly medication, and later on the crimes themselves. I’m not sure if there is any merit from drawing a link between the crimes and medication (or video games, or gun laws, for that matter), because these things were probably more catalysts (if they really did play any role) than real causes of the issue.

  • Bob

    What a tragedy, people killing other people as a last resort. They must have felt really desperate and hurt to do something of such a large magnitude. Although we cannot solve every issue we can all take collective responsibility by including instead of excluding people. If a smile can disarm, what can a few well chosen words do?
    Excellent 5 step plan Celes! You set a high example for us all. :D

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Hi Bob, thanks for your kind words! I do think that the perpetrators were truly at their wits’ end to have decided to inflict such harm on others. I really wish nothing but the best for them and their souls.

  • akash

    yes you are right that what needs to be addressed is why the sin is committed . instead we try to limit the scope of the ways the sin will be committed say strict gun laws or even dressing style for woman.
    yes we have progressed in every sphere of technology but on the social aspects of our life we need to pay more attention. and somewhere we need to look at our past of various cultures and their traditions and put that into our modern life

  • http://leapofaction.com/blog Beat Schindler

    Celes, you seem to advocate it’s okay to run our societies – bingo clubs, dentist offices, traffic, sports and the entire communal fabric – by law, but if it’s serious business let’s call for psychological assessment instead.

    Killing people for fun doesn’t prove it? To know he kills people for fun, but only when bored, or to learn he had a childhood, too, it might add to our knowledge, or it might dilute it. It’s not always clear which direction it’s headed.

    “There are no ‘bad’ guys” – presumably including the killer. Is it addressed directly to the community of mourners, or just for the rest of us? It’ll be interesting to know people’s reactions.

    You suggest to “let go of the punishment mentality” just as children, spouses and parents mourn the victims of one who by his very act says in his world death IS justice.

    If we had a handle on people’s behaviors, we’d not only prevent killings, we’d also produce Mozarts and Picassoes all day long. Until that (scary) utopia is achieved, I say let there be justice and let there be punishment – for justice without punishment is not justice, it’s injustice. One of the things you have discovered, or are guaranteed to discover on your own person later in life.

    ~Beat

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Hi Beat, I did not say that the perpetrators shouldn’t be punished; as I mentioned in the article, rather than JUST punishing them, it’s important to identify the root of the issue and address in the long term, WHILE using the justice system to put things in place in the short term. What I mentioned as one of the five points (about focusing on solution/resolution vs. punishment) is the long-term ideal and direction we should work toward.

      The system of punishment has been in place for decades, and past shooters have been duly “punished”, but it’s obvious that such shootings are still occurring. Again I’m not saying the punishment system has not helped the society; for what it’s worth, there might have been a lot more shootings if it wasn’t the punishment system. But the punishment system isn’t the long-term solution, and shouldn’t be the only thing we should rely on to solve the actual problem. As I pointed out in the article, some of the shooters do know what they were getting into when they proceeded with the shooting, and thereafter proceeded to kill themselves because they knew this was the end for them. Punishment obviously did nothing here in preventing such tragedies.

      Regarding the no “bad” guys comment, it’s directed to all of us in the world. The article is meant to get us to re-look at what we think about perpetrators and to think about how we can even prevent such issues (of having people committing crimes, committing shootings, etc.) in the long term, by starting from within.

  • Cheryl

    Thank you for the reminder that people are basically good and that healing starts at the individual level, especially when making sense of tragic events.

    Along those lines, here is an excerpt from a book by Pema Chodron (Taking the Leap…):

    “The question thus becomes: When something triggers in you, how do you disarm it?

    There was a story that was widely circulated a few days after the attacks of September 11, 2001, that illustrates our dilemma. A Native American grandfather was speaking to his grandson about violence and cruelty in the world and how it comes about. He said it was as if two wolves were fighting in his heart. One wolf was vengeful and angry, and the other wolf was understanding and kind. The young man asked his grandfather which wolf would win the fight in his heart. And the grandfather answered, “The one that wins will be the one I choose to feed.”

    Now is the time to develop trust in our basic goodness and the basic goodness of our sisters and brothers on this earth; a time to develop confidence in our ability to drop our old ways of staying stuck and to choose wisely. We could do that right here and right now.”

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      That’s a really powerful story, Cheryl. Thank you so much for sharing it; it struck a chord in my heart.

  • http://avene.org Glenn

    Great article Celes. It’s very easy to see how bullying can force someone to retaliate. I was actually in that position myself in high school, but nothing too serious. It was in a science class, and the guy next to me kept hitting me on the arm continuously. It really started hurting, and since he wouldn’t stop it got to the point where I lost it, got up and punched him out! It was the only time I can remember ever losing my cool. The teacher didn’t say anything, and from that point on the guy never bothered me again. We were friends from then on too.

    But yeah, I can totally see how people can be pushed to the point where they just can’t take anymore and will do watever they feel necessary to get revenge.

    I actually do believe making guns less accessable would help. Yes, if someone really wants to go on a shooting rampage somewhere where guns are restricted, there are ways they could always get hold of ne if they know the right people. But for the average kid living in a mostly gun free part of the world, it’s not going to be so easy. They could always build a bomb, but that be more random, and probably wouldn’t give them the same level of satisfaction. And neither would be an instant solution, so there’s a better chance they would stop, having time to think about what they’re really about to do.

    Where as if guns are readily available, it becomes a much easier solution for them. If they know someone in the family had a gun in the closet, that would make things a lot easier for them. They could act more quickly without really contemplating what they’re doing.

    I had a chat friend who used to email me when I first started using the internet, which could have been around 14 years ago. This 15 year old girl Moesha who I’d talk about music with. She was living in Australia, but decided to move back to the US with her dad. At the time I recommended she stay in Australia, as it was a safer country. Anyway, she’d written me a few more emails, and eventually had a boyfriend she met in NY.

    Anyway, I hadn’t heard from her for a while, but got an email from her best friend here in Australia who told me that Moesha had been shot and was on life support with a bullet lodged next to her heart. A week or two later I received another email from her friend letting me know that Moesha had died. Nothing more could be done for her and the family had agreed to have the life support turned off. Getting that news shook me up pretty badly.

    It turns out that she’d become involved with a bad crowd. Her boyfriend or another close friend had sold some drugs that weren’t the real thing, and when the buyers found out, they decided to take revenge via a drive by shooting. Moesha was with them at the time it happened of course. Incidents like this were quite common around that time, and probably still occur. So much so that they would never make the news. If you’ve ever seen the movie Boyz in the hood, I assume it would have been similar to that.

    But if guns weren’t so readily available as they are in the US, would that still have happened? There have been a few drive by shootings here in Australia over the years, but it’s something that you rarely ever hear about. And when it does occur, always makes the headline news.

    There’s a chance you’re probably right about suicide rates. But I think that’s a different psychological issue. Those who are suicidal may feel trapped, but I doubt too many would be seeking revenge as a way of dealing with their problems.

    By the way, there’s a conpsiracy theory I heard about regarding Martin Bryant and the Port Arthur massacre.

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      “There’s a chance you’re probably right about suicide rates. But I think that’s a different psychological issue. Those who are suicidal may feel trapped, but I doubt too many would be seeking revenge as a way of dealing with their problems.”

      Hey Glenn, you’re likely right that the people who committed suicide and those who resorted to shooting were probably coming from different places (the former being simply terminating of own life, the latter being revenge, getting back at others). I do see a trend in that both are in states of helplessness, to the point where they reach out for the last resort—the suicider by committing suicide, and the perpetrator by trying to kill others.

      I definitely agree that if guns were not available, and if the overall culture in US was not as violence-driven (I’m not saying Americans are violent or the culture is violent, just that if you compare the American culture vs. the Asian culture, the American culture is definitely more violence-centered than the Asian one), the perpetrators would probably have turned to different ways to resolve their issues (maybe suicide? maybe continuing to live in resignation but with no consciousness anymore?). For sure, there wouldn’t be mass shooting tragedies that seem to occur more frequently in US and Europe than Asia. I think tightening gun laws will be a good short-term solution to accompany a series of long-term approaches.

      Thanks so much for sharing your two stories. The one about the guy in your science class might have been a simple example, but it does illustrate the same message about how bullying behavior can lead one to “snap” and do things that are out of the person’s normal consciousness, especially if the person is not able to properly process his/her emotions. On that note, the bully in question (the perpetrator) was probably having certain issues of his own that led him to keep hitting you like this. I hope he eventually got to work out whatever problems he had though after he stopped hitting you.

      • http://avene.org Glenn

        I don’t know if the guy at school had any issues. He wasn’t bullying me either, just being a pest! Although a lot of other kids called him ‘Spade Basher’ because he was a white South African. It took me a while to figure out why they called him that, but apparently ‘spade’ was a possibly racist term for black people, and since he was a white South African around the time apartheid was still happening, that’s why they called him that. And then after the incident in the science class, they called me Spade Basher Basher. That was the 80s.

  • http://hackmyheart.com Alexa

    I’m not sure I agree on everything here. I’m not entirely sure of my own opinion though to be honest, so what I say may or may not make much sense.

    While I agree looking at the psychology behind why people do these crimes, and that dealing with these types of issues before they manifest into something so awful is important…I think once they happen, it’s already too late for that person.

    Yes, it’s possible it forces them to “wake up,” to really change their ways, but I feel for many if the problem is so deeply rooted as to harm other people…it will probably happen again. They would probably be smart enough to fake “recovery” and say they’re a new, better person, only to do more crimes if they feel they should.

    We can blame society, but plenty of us deal with issues without harming. The fact they never learned how to properly cope is sad, but there is no reason the rest of us should need to be exposed to and possibly be victimized by someone who may just perform an awful act again, whether through killing or harming another. When a person reaches that point where they feel the need to hurt someone besides themselves, I just think it might be to a point that can’t be “fixed”. And even if it were, justice needs to happen. The lives they affected are real and that justice is something they look to to heal. To say, “We’ve sorted out his issues and s/he won’t do it again” doesn’t help the people affected by the crimes already committed.

    I don’t know, perhaps this is close-minded of me in a way. But I don’t think focusing less on punishment in favor of fixing someone who might unfortunately just be “broken” is the way to go. But without knowing more about how the mind works, that’s just my two cents.

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Hey Alexa, I definitely agree that punishment needs to be part of the system, at least as a short-term prevention measure and mitigation factor. (Not sure if this came through as you were reading; I did mention this as part of my stance in the article.) My five steps at the end is more of a long-term solution / ideal that we should start working on at the individual level, in achieving the ideal long-term state (where no one would inflict such harm on others, etc.). Things that we can start doing at the individual level.

      You raised an interesting point on whether things are salvageable when someone hits the “point of no return” (such as the mass shooting). I guess I don’t have the answer to it. I’d like to think that everyone can be salvaged, but perhaps sometimes people have descended to the point of derangement and sunk to such low pits that there is really a point of no return. I guess it also depends on the society and how ready it is to accept such people (perhaps some are at the point of no return simply because society has no place for them anymore). I’m not sure. But for sure, I do think that the justice system has its role in the society today as part of a mitigation solution, while we work on long-term measures that really address the root of the issue (vs. just the effect).

  • Emilio Peire

    You’re right it’s not just guns. Here’s a link to last week’s UK coverage of a father who killed his children and then himself. The Grandfather wrote a most moving letter, which deserves be shared in the context of this debate. He maintained that the killing was ‘not an act of malice or spite’ and said there were ‘no villains’ in the horrifying episode.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2176447/Grandfather-murdered-children-writes-remarkable-letter-saying-proud-son-law-despite-tragedy.html

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      That’s a really sad tragedy; I’m sorry to hear about this story. Thanks so much for sharing the link/story with us Emilio; it’s an interesting example to add on to this article and what we are discussing here.

  • Mikey

    This is a very sensitive article, and I applaud Celes for taking it on. For me to even comment requires courage and to pull out my moral compass to see where I stand. I hope this article will (partly) help make the world a better place.

    I fully agree on dealing with the root cause. It was not surprising that many people responded to the shooting by seeking toughened gun laws. Guns is only part of the problem. As this article mentioned, there are many other ways to pull off a similar tragedy.

    The recurring thought in my mind was the series of decision points these past perpetrators faced leading to the tragic results. The decision points often start from the initial hurt, how they deal with deep difficulties, then how they alleviate stress, how to approach their problems, and finally the choice of whether to hurt someone.

    These decision points often resemble the difference in choice between “love” and “fear” that Celes touched on in past articles. Punishment is often less relevant as the perpetrators are often ready to end their lives at that point.

    What may help prevent these tragedies (and to help the potential-perpetrators) is actually love. The love of feeling that there’s a way out of this funk; the love of society’s support; and the love of not wanting to hurt others. This love may sway a potential-perpetrator’s decision long before it’s too late to change.

    I, like some other commentors, was initially taken back by “1. Let go of the punishment mentality, and focus more on resolution instead.” However as I think deeper, I feel it’s true. Potential resolutions could be more resources to help those with no last resort, emotional outlets and resources (such as PE) to help people live a purposeful life. I strongly feel that these expressions of love can diffuse/unload more guns than stricter gun laws. :heart:

    Lastly, for those interested, please check out the story of Frank O’Dea. He is a living story of a formerly molested panhandler (admitted in his book) who eventually found love and purpose, co-founded a coffee chain in Canada, and has taken on many charitable causes.

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Hey Mikey, thanks so much for your thoughtful and earnest response. I love how you stress on the importance of love over fear. You are right that love is a huge factor that comes into play. Most of these perpetrators were probably filled with fear and lacked love. The five recommended steps are steps that will help us to transit from fear (force) to love (power).

      Thanks a lot for sharing the story of Frank O’Dea too. I’ll be checking that out to learn more about his story.

  • http://oneheartsblog.blogspot.com DJ

    My home state is Colorado and I clearly remember the day the Columbine shooting occurred. It was the first time I thought deeper into the issues surrounding mass murders/shootings, as opposed to the belief that stricter gun control laws would solve the problem. I think that would help in a lot of ways, but does not address the underlying issues. Nor does assigning the death penalty.

    Since then I have come to believe many of the same views that you write about in your article. I think it takes courage to express an alternate view about something society generally reacts to with vengeful mentality.

    It’s a great beginning toward a more loving AND just society.

    • http://personalexcellence.co Celes

      Hey DJ, this is such a great comment; it clearly comes from a conscious frame of thought. I’m glad that you carry the same sentiments and I appreciate you taking time to post your comment and sharing your thoughts with us. Thank you so much.