By now you have no doubt tired of worn-out arguments for and against increased control over accessibility to firearms. I will spare you those in the wake of the latest mass shooting events in Boulder, Colorado and Atlanta, Georgia. This is a complicated, tangled issue, but it boils down to a pattern of dysfunctional upbringing in a societal sense.
White males in the United States are reared by a collective culture that constantly pits them against everyone else. The implication of white, cis, straight male superiority is so pervasive and subtle that it is almost never questioned. When groups representing different demographics begin asserting the same rights enjoyed by white men, they are framed as threatening, demanding “special rights” that would somehow usurp the rights of others.
Immigrants are taking “your” jobs, we are told. A black man would not have been promoted were it not for affirmative action. A woman’s place is in the home. These statements, these terribly destructive traditions, stubbornly endure and color the perspective of white male experience and expectation. Your economic success, your place as the head of household, your entire self-worth are yours for the taking, even at the expense of others.
We have been utterly convincing in our indoctrination of white male youths in their birthright of superiority, but have failed absolutely in providing coping strategies when they are inevitably defeated in their attempts to achieve their “destinies.” American men are horrible at dealing with intangible pain. Many of us are instilled with the idea that in order for others to understand our (internal) heartbreak, humiliation, and suffering, we must (externally) inflict physical pain on others. This is how domestic violence happens. This is how mass shootings happen.
What we lack in providing healthy, introspective, mindful solutions to disappointment and frustration, we more than make up for in products of violence, from political rhetoric to automatic weapons. Products are seldom the solution to any problem, but they are critical to economic engines, so are not only tolerated but actively encouraged. Let me repeat: externalizing your internal pain is currently acceptable, even if it kills or maims other people in the process. This is the message being sent loud and clear, on an infinite loop.
Who benefits from broadcasting such vitriol? Those with even more white privilege than you enjoy. We have allowed ourselves to be divided by an excessively privileged minority that knows it cannot endure if the illusion of differences between everyone else evaporates. As long as we are blaming the “other” demographic category, we are ignoring the man behind the curtain, to borrow from The Wizard of Oz.
A just society requires the exact opposite of what the United States has espoused throughout its history of colonization, slavery, racism, oppression, and suppression. Individual success is not dependent upon the defeat of everyone else. Indeed, our definition of success has been strictly material since….forever.
How do we end violence? How do we finally unite? We must immediately reject, erase, and rescind every message purporting the superiority and entitlement of white males. The irony is that in the sacrifice of false supremacy, we will all gain materially, have a greater sense of self-esteem, and lose the stress inherent in artificially propping up a worthless model of what it means to be a white male.
Yes, we need sensible regulation of firearms in this country, but we must demand more of ourselves as white males in accountability for violence of any sort. We must learn appropriate behaviors for expressing emotional and intangible pain instead of externalizing it inappropriately. No, we have not been taught how to do that. It can be our legacy to figure that out. Our non-white brothers can help us get there if we let them. Our gay brothers, too, and our wives, our sisters. Listen to them.