Who’s Fault Is It?: Some Perspective
Like so many people, this afternoon, I’m glued to the TV reports coming out of the elementary school shooting in Connecticut. In these early hours while everything is still being sorted out, our best and only course of action is to send prayers, love and healing energy to those effected by the tragedy.
What is disconcerting is that in the earliest minutes after the shooting, there were tweets flying with people trying to push their agenda. In a very crude manner, the bodies aren’t even cold yet and individuals are making political hay. The evening following the movie theater shooting in Denver earlier this year, some of the biggest names in media (with an agenda) were already pointing fingers at who/what is to blame. In every single case, again every single case you know who is to blame? The shooter. That is it. No one else. Just the shooter.
We live in a nation of over 300 million. And we live on a planet with nearly seven billion. Anyone in psychology/psychiatry will attest to the fact that there are going to be a certain percentage of people who are just plain nuts. That’s not technical, but it’s true. They cannot function in society because they are a danger to themselves and others. As our population continues to increase, by the law of large numbers, that means the real number of those who are mentally unstable also goes up. It’s just math.
Bring this down a little more to the physiological level. Know the average age of a DWI offender in America? 21. That average drunk driver also has a BAC of somewhere in the .17 range, over twice the presumptive nationwide allowable amount. And ya know what else? The vast majority of those offenders are male. Psychologists and psychiatrists know the human brain isn’t fully developed until an individual reaches his/her mid-20s. We also know from accident reports, hospital reports, arrest records, etc. that males are much more likely than females to be involved in risk taking behaviors. We also know that males tend to be more violent than females, on the whole.
Simply put, if someone is mentally unstable, unless we lock them up, there are going to be tragedies like what took place today. It’s sad. It’s horrible. It’s hard to accept. And, it’s inevitable. It takes a very motivated, well intentioned individual with mental illness to try to better his/her life by getting help. Through pharmaceuticals, through therapy, through checking oneself into a psychiatric facility…and people who are mentally unstable are a lot more unlikely to take any of these actions. If someone who is unsafe to him/herself or others and they do NOT seek help, there’s hardly anything we, as a society, can do until that individual gets involved in criminal activity.
Mental illness does not equate to one’s aptitude. Let’s not forget that the Denver shooter was a Ph.D. candidate. Mixing severe mental illness with intelligence mixed with young males with risk taking behaviors mixed with the human brain not being fully developed until one is circa 25? When these elements are considered, it’s a wonder we don’t have more tragedies like this.
It’s human nature to try to find fault in the aftermath of something horrible. But, before we go blaming the gun laws or the mental health system or the police or the school’s security, let’s keep one thing in mind. This was an individual with mal intent. We may have all sorts of theories about who is to blame, but the one thing we DO know is that it was a single individual who made the choice to kill.