INTRODUCTION--WE ALL HAVE A DARK SIDE
I have a few things to say in reference to school shootings. They are my own thoughts and opinions, but I hope they might help somehow...
So let me try to get your attention by saying that one of the first things I believe we need to think about if we want to stop the violence we're seeing at our schools in the gruesomely violent video games, movies, social media, and other media that have become a multi-billion dollar industry. Those things are just as detrimental and effective at eroding and rotting a society as drugs are. In many ways, they are worse than drugs. They subvert our children (and all of us, for that matter) psychologically. The psyche is altered internally in ways that we can't see--until there's something like a school shooting.
Normal humans have a natural psychological aversion to killing other human beings. The U.S. military has done studies on this. That's why for years now, the military has utilized simulation in training to enable soldiers to kill. For the military, it's necessary. However, it's not necessary--especially for children--to be seeing, and even deriving pleasure from gruesome violence on screen. I think a majority of people will agree that this is common sense. Anyone who tries to argue with this point is clearly profiting off of the multi-billion dollar industry in some way, or they're just plain nutcases themselves.
Of course, humans do have a dark side--and a perverted attraction to gruesome violence. There's been a lot of studies done on psychopathy/sociopathy, and it seems we all exhibit those kinds of traits to a certain extent. It's why sadomasochism, violence on screen, and pornography exist in the first place. It's why Quentin Tarantino movies and the SAW series of movies are popular. It's why war crimes are committed. But it's not healthy--as a society, we have to maintain some semblance of standards and moral uprightness. Otherwise, what is good and wholesome in our world will erode and ultimately disappear--whether we're willing to admit it or not. The dark side is powerful--it's easy to be seduced.
GUNS--IT'S OK TO DISLIKE THEM EVEN IF YOU THINK THEY ARE NECESSARY
This is for the people who attach their ego and identity to gun ownership. Despite the fact that I'm a former Army Special Forces "Green Beret," I don't like the idea that guns are so quickly and easily looked to as a solution to problems, and of course i don't LIKE killing. I've never met a guy in my profession who actually had to kill someone that ever talked about it. I've met lots of people who like to talk about guns and killing--but those are people who have never had to kill anyone--or they are the kinds of people who we should keep a very close eye on.
My own martial arts teacher spent almost two decades in the U.S. military's most elite special operations unit (the one we don't speak the name of but we all know exists). He's the best tactical marksman I've ever seen, and he also doesn't like the idea that guns are always looked upon to be the answer. So what I'm trying to say is that it's OK to not be particularly fond of using guns--even if you're a bad@#$ "operator," OK? So we are with the majority of sane people out there who don't think guns and killing are the final answer. However, evil does exist in this world and we have to be able to protect ourselves.
For those of you who don't want guns or don't have the time/money to get the necessary training to be proficient with one, I recently started a school that offers alternative self-defense and home defense methods that don't require the use of firearms. Buddhist monks aren't allowed to kill--which is why they trained with staffs for protection--and in some parts of the world, they still carry them. This is why we're offering the stick training. In addition to its health benefits, it's what we refer to as an "intermediate weapon." In the hands of a TRAINED person, it can drop one or many people to the ground quickly--incapacitating them without killing them. Unfortunately, this kind of training is extremely rare and not widely available. And let's not forget that guns DO exist. Therefore, it's important for good people to also have guns and to be better trained in using them than the bad people are.
IF YOU OWN A GUN, BE TRAINED WITH IT--AND KEEP KIDS AWAY FROM IT UNTIL THEY ARE OLD ENOUGH AND RESPONSIBLE ENOUGH TO MAKE SOUND/MORALLY UPRIGHT DECISIONS
Guns are a huge responsibility, and if you own one, you must be WELL TRAINED in tactics, marksmanship, and safe handling (there's a LOT of crummy training out there, so be careful). I will go so far as to say most police officers--local, state, and federal--are not getting the proper training they need in those areas. I'm not trying to attack them, but after having a long-term relationship with the law enforcement training community, I know that our personnel are not getting the training they deserve. The way is in training.
Extra special precautions need to be taken if there's kids around and you are a gun owner. I grew up around guns in Montana, but they always locked up, and the adults made sure we knew that if we found one unlocked and picked it up, hell would come down on us. We were taught about basic ballistics, safe operation, and of course, warned about their lethal nature. As kids, we didn't dare mess with them unless adults were supervising. Looking back, although we may have caused trouble, we were well disciplined and obedient when it came to guns. I would credit this to the fact that parents took the time to really emphasize the dangers of guns. Parental discipline and attention works, folks! More on that later.
I'm well trained and disciplined with a gun now, and I believe it's a great skill to have. I'd never allow someone to harm me or any other innocent person. If I had to use a gun in self-defense, I'm prepared. At a minimum, I won't be a danger to others with a gun in my hand--unless they are the bad guys, of course. It's important to EQUALLY understand the danger and the usefulness of the gun as a self-defense or hunting tool. It's a powerful tool and something to be respected. I would say that because of their deadly power, it's too bad that guns were invented. However, the technology is here and they're not going away. Even if we ban them, criminals and would-be criminals will acquire them. Therefore, good people need to have guns or bad people will take over.
GUN CONTROL WON'T SOLVE THE PROBLEMS WE FACE--IT WILL CREATE FAR WORSE PROBLEMS
I hate to be one of the people saying this--but to anyone who is uneducated about the underlying causes of gun violence, gun control might SEEM like an easy solution. However, it won't bring about a better world. I can say that from experience. I've been to many places in the world where gun controls have only served to put good people at greater risk to criminals. All too often, those criminals happened to be corrupt government officials who have disarmed their own populations!
A much graver danger that we will face if gun controls go too far is the brutality, misery, starvation, rape, slavery, oppression, etc. that occurs when citizens lose the ability to keep their government PUBLIC SERVANTS in check. More people have died because of the policies of corrupt leaders and the imbalance of powers existing in totalitarian states than the casualties in all the wars in the history of the world COMBINED. If you think about that, it's pretty mind-blowing. But think about it good and hard.
Peace, equal opportunity, democratic process, rule of law, property rights, economic growth, the list goes on--these things are maintained through strength--and that strength MUST be the strength of the people. History has proven that power, overly consolidated, turns into corruption and oppression of the people, followed by conflict and violent overthrow--every single time. Yes, I'm a huge believer in the 2nd amendment. It was important enough to be the SECOND amendment for a very good reason. It's one of the main reasons we have an environment in this country that has led to greater prosperity than any nation in the history of the world. In fact, this applies to the world as a whole because the United States military, funded by that very economic prosperity, has been policing the world--keeping the authoritarians and terrorists at bay for quite some time now.
Power can't go unchecked--and real power is not money--it's the ability to do violence. When governments and all the bad people in the world all put down their weapons, then us good citizens can put ours down, too. But we all know that's just not going to happen. There's always someone who wants to rule over the others. Unfortunately, with the advent of new technologies that are being applied in very malicious ways, perhaps even guns are not enough to keep off oppression anymore--but that's another issue entirely, so back to the kids...
These kids who have problems will find other ways to release whatever psychological/emotional pain or pressure that they are experiencing. If guns are taken away from the public, it won't solve the REAL UNDERLYING CAUSES of gun violence, and these kids will find even more sinister ways to kill people. In some respects, we are LUCKY that they are choosing guns as their attack weapons.
It's not hard to make a bomb. I won't go into it for obvious reasons, but what COULD be done with a little more creativity on the part of these kids would be devastating. There's a lot of info out there for kids to get their hands on. In addition, edged weapons have the possibility to be even more deadly in a school attack than guns are because of their silent nature. Guns make a very loud noise when fired--alerting people to the attack and giving them time to escape or barricade. Blades don't make a sound. A lot of people can be stabbed to death before anyone realizes what's happening. If you'd like to know what knives can do, take a look at the Kunming, China railway station attack that took place in 2014. Those attackers had little to no training, but the casualty count was huge.
Now let's do a VERY simple analysis. Please think about these two variables--people and guns. Both of these variables have always existed in our country. But have school shootings always been happening at the alarming rate that they are now? NO, they haven't. So if the guns have always been around, then what has actually changed? THE MINDSET OF THE PEOPLE HAS CHANGED--IN THIS CASE, OUR YOUTH. Youth in our country today are facing a variety of new social/societal factors that are different from what older generations experienced.
A FEW IDEAS ON WHAT MIGHT BE UNDERLYING CAUSES OF SCHOOL MASSACRES
Here's a few things I'd like to bring to people's attention that may be major contributors to school massacres (and other massacres). Of course there are MANY MORE social factors affecting our youth--these are just a few. However, it wouldn't be too hard for parents and others to look into these things and make positive changes that could have a profound impact. Unfortunately, these crimes won't go away any time soon. It will take at least a generation or two to change our social/societal direction.
We have to start thinking right now about where we messed up on rearing this generation of youth. Sorry parents, but it starts with you. In traditional cultures, when a child does something naughty, everybody looks at their parents--there's a lot of wisdom there. Currently, we have a problem in our society accepting responsibility for mistakes. Parents, too, attempt to diffuse their own responsibility for the actions of their children. Heck, some kids don't even have parents because of people who refuse to accept a responsibility for a child they have created. The most recent shooter, Nikolas Cruz, had a family life that should be looked at very carefully and noted. At any rate, let's start with these things to get the wheels turning on what should be done:
1) EXTREME VIOLENCE IN MEDIA
--Watching movies and playing some of the video games on the market these days is like taking poison for the mind and soul. This ALSO includes the fact that every time there's a school shooting, it's all over the news. "If it bleeds it leads," as they say. Yes, the violence needs to be reported, monitored, and studied, but today these stories are being used more for a political tool/tool for monetary gain more than ever before. The corruption of our "watchdog" media outlets and their blatant involvement in politics is one of the greatest tragedies of our lifetime, but that's another issue entirely.
Endlessly parading these stories gives fame to the shooters and installs the idea in the minds of other kids who are struggling emotionally/psychologically and searching for the way to make a desperate cry for attention. There IS something called a "copycat murder." Unfortunately, we're not seeing any solutions on TV--just political debates about more gun control vs. less gun control--politics as usual without getting to the root causes of the problem. Gun control shouldn't even be a part of the discussion.
2) POOR PARENTING / LACK OF PARENTING
--Kids have malleable, developing minds. They have to be watched, taught, nurtured, guided, encouraged, and at times, disciplined. Anyone who chooses to bring a child into this world needs to make that child their #1 priority, without question. People need to take more pride in raising their children than they do their careers, money, or social status. Somehow we've got these things flipped around. Parents who are "too busy" for their kids--handing them off to someone else to take care of--are absolutely doing the wrong thing. To make an example, I'm a military veteran, and I know a lot of military families. Soldiers are prepared to leave home, face danger, etc. But a huge sacrifice that often gets overlooked is what constant deployments of a mother or a father does to a family--particularly the kids. It can get very ugly--I'll just leave it at that.
3) SPOILED YOUTH / LACK OF DISCIPLINE / BLURRING THE LINES BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG, WINNERS AND LOSERS
--Does it ever seem to you that each generation gets more virulent than the last? It sure does to me! And I'm not even that old yet. But this trend seems to run inverse to the increasingly "soft" manners in which we raise and discipline our children. We are living in the days of "time out"--spankings have nearly disappeared. In reference to spankings--there's a big difference between discipline and physical abuse. Discipline occurs when a child does something morally wrong or bad--it tells them, "you did wrong, don't do it again." If you tell a child, "don't touch that hot stove," they may still do it. However, they will get burned by the stove. I can almost guarantee it will be the last time they touch the stove, though. Spankings have a similar effect.
Now I'm not saying parents should or must spank their kids. I'm only suggesting using firm disciplinary measures that are known to work. Spankings have worked for thousands of years. Don't rely on social experiments to discipline children. They are too important for that. When children do good things, they should be applauded. When they do bad things, they need to know it, too. There should never be any confusion or blurred lines between right and wrong. Disciplining brings maturity and stability. It's a form of teaching. It teaches children lessons that parents don't want them to forget.
Unfortunately, due to many social trends that seem to be in large part driven by our media and our education system, the lines between right and wrong ARE being blurred. We also aren't as likely to look to the moral teachings in religious books anymore. Therefore, it's not as simple as "don't touch that stove" for the current generation of youth. They are becoming increasingly confused. Then we add what I call the "anti-hero effect"--it's good to be bad. No, not really. It's good to be good and it's bad to be bad. Is it possible that there's potential psychological effects of watching movies and playing games where we root for the bad guy? What ever happened to Christopher Reeves as Superman? Why is there always a dark spin on our heroes these days? This is perhaps a dangerous path to the dark side for our youth. Just something to consider.
Who likes to spoil their kids? Yeah, it seems that kids in America get everything they want, sometimes. This is another danger. Not only is it potentially psychologically harmful to the kids being spoiled, it's potentially harmful to kids who have less or feel left out. I think it's very important for kids to learn to lose. It's important for them to NOT get what they want sometimes. Have you ever seen a spoiled kid who didn't get what they wanted? Their tantrums, while usually harmless, are an indicator of the kinds of frustrations that can build up. Many spoiled kids also tend to look down upon kids who have less. Learning to lose or fail, accept it for what it is, then try again is one of life's most important lessons. It's a lesson that builds discipline, character, maturity, and mental/emotional stability.
4) SINGLE PARENT HOUSEHOLDS, GENDER CONFUSION
--It was Confucius who said that if the institution of marriage breaks down, society, too, will eventually break down. There are many reasons for this, but one of the reasons is because children need both "yin" and "yang" in their upbringing. They need a healthy balance of the "soft" and "hard" approaches that come from a mother and a father--a woman and a man, respectively. I don't want to go too far into this because I could write a whole book on the topic and this is supposed to be a short blog post, but there's lots of info out there--so please do your own research. I will just say here that "masculine" and "feminine" traits do exist everywhere in nature--and when they don't, it's an irregularity, not the norm. These days, we can't even call a person with a penis "male" and a person with a vagina "female." When we start bringing kids up without balance, things can become difficult for them emotionally and confusing for them psychologically.
5) DRUGS, GANGS, PEER PRESSURE
--I suppose I don't even need to explain this. All of these things I've mentioned are just common sense, but I don't want to waste anyone's time for something THIS obvious. These things need to be continuously watched out for. The damages they can do are just so tremendous.
6) INJUSTICE CAUSES DEEP EMOTIONAL PAIN
--I'll be brief on this one, too. But recently I heard a story of a friend's kid who was being bullied and picked on at school. When the kid found the courage to stand up for himself, he found himself in a fist fight. Then the WORST possible thing that the school administration could do happened. The kid got expelled--no questions asked. So what kind of irresponsible, lazy school administration uses expulsion as a blanket punishment for fighting?! This kind of gets me hot because I don't like injustice.
Violence always has an underlying reason. School administrators need to investigate and get to the bottom of it. And a kid HAS to be able to stand up to a bully. This is part of growing up--learning to stand up for oneself. It's a lesson for the bully, too. I fought a lot of bullies as a kid. Every single one became a good friend and a very peaceful person afterward. Other kids were also inspired to have more backbone. Schoolyard fights are a way that tension is released. I feel like these school administrators must be the same kinds of people who are suggesting taking away guns from ALL good people because a few kids are having psychological/emotional problems that are causing them to do unspeakable acts. It's a lazy response to a more complex issue. Please think about this one.
There's more that I could write here. There are an astounding number of social/societal changes occurring in our country. But most of the pressures can be alleviated through good parenting and moral education. But for now, we have to have WELL TRAINED SECURITY at our schools and other places where people gather. Notice that I am emphasizing the words WELL TRAINED. Training is the key for our security personnel.
We currently have a very serious problem with our security forces getting poor training or not getting very much training. Please, officers and guards, don't let this hurt your feelings. This needs to be pointed out so YOU can get access to the training you deserve. I know that the good military, police, and other security professionals WANT better training and have been begging for it.
In the government sector, we tend to just throw money and better equipment at our law enforcement agencies. Money and equipment is ok, but it's no good without great training. However, in order to get the best training, we also have to solve some corruption problems that exist in areas such as contracting. We could do so much better if it weren't for the perfect storm of politics, ego, lack of concern, and corrupt/misguided regulatory pratices.
Finally, here's some information on BASIC and SIMPLE training that is a good starting point for learning to survive an active shooter scenario with links to a FREE download that was made by a close and trusted friend of mine who has a tactical training company. If you want to survive, MASTER THE BASICS. And teach them to those you care about.
Founder, Warrior Spirit Fitness and Self-Defense