As someone who works with people to integrate and heal early developmental trauma I've been pondering the increasing number of mass shootings that seem to be plaguing our country. Many of them are young men, loners, sometimes swept into some ideology that really makes sense to them, without the reflection and support of calmer. older and wiser influences. Particularly since one of these shootings happened in my own part of the world I have felt so heartened by the way people are supporting each other, tracking those who might need help and coming together to heal as a community.
... and then there is the question of how to address the problem? There are calls for stricter gun laws... that is probably a good idea. There is talk about mental illness and how to deal with potentially dangerous people off balance finding their way to firearms... but the truth is that the problem and solution are much more complex and nuanced than we can address talking fast at each other, not listening and reacting. In fear an anger we are trying to figure out whose fault is this? Who do we shame and punish? Unfortunately our rush to shaming and punishing (and defensiveness that ensues) impedes our ability to really to check in with what the larger issue is and possible ways to address it wholistically.
There is an African proverb: "The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth"
Mass shootings are part of a larger spectrum of social issues stemming from young people who don't feel safe, loved/connected and who aren't being initiated into a wisdom culture led by trustworthy elders, tracking each child in the village. We have meticulous ways we track academic performance but who is tracking the state of each child's nervous system, social development and the care of their soul. This can't be the responsibility of the parent or teachers alone. As humans we aren't designed for families being so alone, disconnected from the village.
In small pockets there are parents seeking out teachers and healers that are reviving rites of passage for young people and creating networks of support. Young people need to be tracked and guided to be able to use their passion and fearlessness constructively instead of destruction. The question for all of us is how do we listen to these children and all children with our hearts and embrace all children as our children? How do we slow down and create enough space in ourselves to be able to really listen to and find effective ways to create support for families who need help?