Sunday, December 16, 2012

Connecticut Shooting – Without Love & Connection We Fragment

Last night I watched various anchors and reporters talking about the terrible shooting in Connecticut.  I was struck by the puzzlement that it had happened, and how much at a loss many were to explain the why of it. A neighbor was interviewed and she said the shooter had seemed a normal young man, and so had his mother. Nobody noticed anything amiss. 

But looking at her I saw a kind of inner dessication from emotional deprivation. Her comment made me think of how often people commit suicide and families and friends say afterwards that there were no signs of distress. I never believe that. I think we’ve either lost or we’ve never developed the capacity to see the reality of a person through the mask that our society teaches us to develop. 

The mask that families, friends and communities require us to keep in place, because who the hell really wants to hear? When you’re happy the world smiles with you. When you’re depressed or sad or scared everybody scatters or tries to force upon you the importance of a positive attitude. The tension that builds up inside gets unbearable, and eventually something pops. 

One of the anchors commented on the possibility that the young man was depressed and added “it may seem surprising that a depressed person would do something this violent”. I stared, flabbergasted. Depressed people are the ones who pop; doesn’t everybody know that? People get depressed because they’re not getting the love and respect they need. It’s that simple.

Nobody sees them and they’re forced in all sorts of ways to suppress their needs even more and over-adapt. Which is anathema to the spirit; we’re not built to suppress and be deprived, we’re built to experience love and connection and express ourselves creatively. A young man whose mother doesn’t have a clue about unconditional love has learnt from birth that he has no value. He hasn’t developed social skills so he can’t get the love he needs from community.

The mistake we make too often is in thinking that if children are ‘well behaved’ it means they’re happy. Ditto adults. Often they’re only that way because it’s the only way they’ll either get positive attention from us or avoid abuse. As a society it hasn’t sunk in yet how violent the anger is of the unheard child and how we store it well into adulthood. The kind of violence that is as powerful as the instinct to kill if your life is being threatened.

When the need for love continues to be ignored and the ange gets suppressed time after time after time, the result is depression. You don’t fix depression with positive thinking. You don’t fix it with medication either. You numb the symptoms is all. The emotions, which are the result of the non-nurturing environment you live in, keep on building, you just don’t know it. Some part of you carries on feeling beyond your awareness. 

If the need for love and touch and connection and to just be heard, is strong enough, the pain of being constantly discounted can become so unendurable that it breaks through your anaesthesia, whether it’s medication or distraction-induced. If you have no social skills, no understanding of what’s happening to and within you; if you’ve never had positive loving input, you have no frame of reference about moderate behaviour.

The moderating part of your brain hasn’t been developed at all. So when the pain reaches that intensity, you’re in fight or flight mode. In your world, your perception, the information you run off in your head, you have only one option. If you’ve been exposed to way too much killing in your entertainment, and guns are easy to get, why on earth would you choose any other outlet?   

“Give me liberty or give me death.” How often do shooters massacre others then turn the gun on themselves?  Incidents like this take us by surprise only because we don’t have an accurate idea on how massive our need for real, unconditional love is. And how not getting it violates us and presses that survival button in a way that no amount of suppression and unhealthy social conditioning can do anything about.  

We look on this young man and think he’s a mutant of our society. But is he? I don’t think so. I think he’s the ultimate illustration of how lousy we are at facing our inner reality, how much we do everything we can to avoid our needs, how vulnerable we actually are, how good we are at over-adapting in ways that often make life unbearable for us at some level. And how much pressure we put on those around us to do the same.

Life is hard, its lessons heart-wrenching. Innocent children and beautiful-spirited adults who had so much love to give, so much life to experience, have paid for society’s unconsciousness. May those who died rest in peace. May those who survived find the love and support they need. May we all work towards being more truthful about what we really need, and wake up to how desperate some people around us are for love.