Archive for hate

Public Tragedies and How to Move Forwards: the Sandy Hook Shooting

Posted in Ramblings, Rants with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2012 by KarenElizabeth

Like most everyone else, I’ve been reading the news the last few days with a mix of shock and horror and deep sadness as the details of exactly what happened at Sandy Hook elementary school emerge, and the public responses to the event occur.

There are some terribly hard questions to be asked when tragic events like this take place.  Why did it happen?  Why did no one see it coming?  Who is at fault, and what could we have done differently?  In the midst of grief and shock and horror, we have a tendency to point fingers and assign blame, desperate to have it be someone’s fault.  Because if there’s not a clear, easily-defined reason for the tragedy, then we don’t know when or where or how or why it might happen again, which is (of course) the most terrifying thing of all.  The unknown.  The fact that if there’s no one directly at fault, there might be nothing we can do.  And then we might be the ones at fault.  Terrifying.  So we point fingers, assign blame, aim to punish the “guilty” and the “wicked” for the salving of our own consciences.

But all this rapid-fire blame-flinging (some of it blatantly self-serving, some just misguided and being hurled out of fear and ignorance) does little to help the situation, either.  We can rail against violent video games just because of a suggestion that the shooter might have enjoyed the odd LAN party.  We can rail against the NRA because the shooter lived in a home where guns were owned.  We can rail against the shooter himself for being “troubled”, or his mother for raising him wrong.  We can rail against the mental health care system for not “fixing” the shooter.  We can rail against feminists and pro-choice activists for “denying God” and allowing evil to take place in the world.  We can rail against the police for not showing up faster, the school for not being locked down in an armored and guarded complex, or the victims for not learning to duck.  None of it helps.  What has taken place is in the past, and what we now need to do is face up to it like mature, rational people, and find ways of moving forwards and addressing what has occurred.  Instead we get mired down in yelling at each other, in blaming one group or another, instead of asking “what can I do to help?”

First of all, you can stop sensationalizing and romanticizing murder.  Like the quote in the above image says, you’re just planting the seeds for another attention-starved person to plan a copycat killing, without honouring the dead or those who are suffering right now.  Don’t focus on the killer, focus on the victims.  Focus on efforts to help the bereaved families, to rebuild a shattered community.  Focus on ways to help your own community and family deal with what has happened.  Focus on love, and the heroes who gave their lives to save the lives of others, and all of the positive things that have been done and are being done.  Focus on remembering the names of the victims.

Do not insert yourself into the tragedy.  Do not make this, somehow, about you and your struggles.  It isn’t the time.

Be loving.  Share with other people.  Include other people in your grief, rather than hiding away from the world.  Because if you include other people, if you talk and communicate and share and give and love?  You’re creating a support network that can help victims and protect from further harm.

Resist the temptation to point fingers and blame. No matter what your personal feelings on issues like gun control, this is not the time to air your personal grievances.  There are others with deeper griefs just now.  This isn’t to say that we can’t use this event as a lens through which to view issues like gun control, mental health care, security measures in schools, and the like — it’s important to analyze and dissect things from a political perspective — but when you do so, separate it from the emotionally charged language of the tragedy.  Focus on facts, statistics, numbers:  things that are quantifiable.  Avoid speculation and unsubstantiated rumours.  The more logic that we can bring to bear on the situation, the better and more well-founded our conclusions will be.

This is a logical time for people to be questioning gun control regulations and whether there need to be changes made.  This is a logical time for people to be looking at whether the shooter could have been helped by a differently organized mental health care system.  This is a logical time for people to be looking at how security in public schools is equipped (or not equipped) to deal with these sorts of events.  We should be talking about these things, and many others.  But no one has an absolute answer that will “fix” the problem, and anyone shouting that they do is just pushing an agenda.  There hasn’t been enough time to assimilate all of the information and dissect it carefully & thoroughly.

Be as logical as you can be.  Because irrational, emotional responses?  Those only cause more harm, in more far-reaching ways that you can possibly imagine.

 

I remember when Columbine happened.  I was in the 6th grade, and I was what was defined as a “troubled” kid.  I had few friends, was considered “antisocial” by my teachers.  I dressed differently from other kids, listened to loud music, and yes, I owned a long trenchcoat-style jacket.  In the weeks and months following, I had everyone from fellow students to teachers to my own mother express concerns that I might be “just like those Columbine shooters”.  I was treated like a dangerous menace, a ticking time bomb, because of the media hype surrounding how the Columbine shooters wore trenchcoats and listened to metal and were outcasts without many friends.

The media hype surrounding that event almost drove me to suicide, because I was so afraid of what might be “wrong” with me.  I’d been profiled as a killer, lumped in with people who’d done something so awful that my mind couldn’t even totally comprehend it.  And I still feel a lot of that same anxiety as an adult, when I see murders blamed on people’s mental health issues or their turbulent relationships with their mothers or their introverted natures.

 

It took me years to realize that people’s reactions to that event, and to me in its aftermath, were the product of fear.  They wanted, desperately, to have some sort of control over an event that had seemed utterly unfathomable right up until the moment when it occurred.  They grasped at straws, seeking to connect the dots in any possible way, hoping to protect themselves and instead furthering a witch-hunt that unfairly categorized not only me, but thousands of other kids like me, as dangerous and scary.  And instead of reaching out to people like me, instead of making us feel more included, more loved, less like outcasts in the first place?  They drove us further away.  The people who made me feel so awful, so worthless, were not asking “what can I do?”  They were asking, “who’s fault is this?” and pointing blame at the people like me.

Don’t let that happen.  Don’t give in to that temptation.  Live with love, not with fear, and see how much farther that will take you.

Advertisements

Eye for an Eye

Posted in Ramblings with tags , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2011 by KarenElizabeth

I know, I know, I’ve been horribly lax in my posting habits these last few months.  I have a dozen half-finished drafts waiting to be finished and posted, and I just haven’t found the motivation to do so.  I’m sorry about that.  I will try my best to be more diligent.

But in the wake of the day’s big news, I felt the need to post, well, something.  Because amid all the exultant expressions of Western victory, I’ve found that I truly am a pacifist to the core.  I cannot find joy in the death of another, or even a sense of justice served.  I am saddened — even hurt — that this, this eye-for-an-eye justice, is the recourse of a supposedly enlightened, humanist society.

Fundamentalism, in all its shapes and forms, terrifies me.  The extremes of hatred, cruelty, ignorance, and violence that are possible only when backed by the single-mindedness of the starry-eyed idealist … this is, unquestionably, humanity at its worst.

Bin Laden, Al-Quaeda, all of the various terrorist leaders and organizations the world over:  they are examples of the evils of fundamentalism.  And I desire very much to see those ideals wiped, permanently, from this earth.  For all that I try, constantly, to see the best in every person and to never condemn or feel hate, I too am human, and I sometimes fail to see how some of these twisted, depraved individuals could ever be made to see reason and kindness.

But by the same token, when I see the exultation in people’s eyes, see them smiling, waving flags, hear them singing, cheering, laughing — because of a violent death?  This doesn’t solve anything.  If anything, this only teaches that it’s okay to hate.  It reinforces the idea that there are no peaceful solutions, that there is no common ground.  What have we accomplished, that we should be celebrating?  A human life, snuffed out — no matter that this particular human was, without doubt, a depraved psychopath.  While life remains, there is hope of change.  Of teaching, and learning, and talking, and maybe coming to understand things about the world that we had never encountered before.  Killing Bin Laden doesn’t teach him — or anyone else — a thing.  If anything, it only creates more hatred.  Violent death creates martyrs, gives people a rallying point around which to consolidate and strengthen the very fundamentalism that I would see wiped out.  And, on the other side of things, it reinforces the “us vs. them” dichotomy that much Western fundamentalist thought is based upon.  We must see this man as unequivocally evil and irredeemable, or else we must feel guilt at his death.  Too many will convince themselves that this was right, and just, and even necessary.  And they’ll demand more blood, to further justify their rightness.  To bury their guilt under a building mountain of bodies, until even utter genocide will not seem enough.

The death of another should never bring us joy, because it is the value we place on life that makes us human, and kind.  To take joy in the death of another requires hate … and today, I simply see too much hate in the world.  It saddens me.

Of Suicide and Other Comforts

Posted in Ramblings, Rants with tags , , , , , , on August 24, 2010 by KarenElizabeth

Cradle of Filth inspired title aside, this actually is intended to be a (mostly) serious post about a topic that I take pretty seriously:  death.  Or, more specifically, suicide.  The taking of one’s own life, and modern Western attitudes towards it.  If it’s not a topic that you’re comfortable with, please do not read the rest of this post:  you’ll likely just upset yourself.  And no, I assure you, I’m not planning to kill myself.  This definitely isn’t that sort of a post.

Unlike many people, I have no moral opposition to suicide.  It’s not something that I think should be taken lightly, but I don’t belong to a religion that promises damnation to those who kill themselves (nor do I think there is any validity in such religions and their promises), and I’m not selfish enough to think that my own life experiences and choices should be used as a model from which to judge others’ lives and experiences and choices.  If you want to kill yourself, who am I to tell you that you’re wrong?  The world’s a pretty fucked up place.  Death, in and of itself, is not necessarily a negative thing, nor is suicide.  If you think it’s the best path presented to you … well, that’s your choice to make.  It is, however, a serious thing.  Ending your own life is among the most serious choices that one can ever make (right up there with creating new life, taking the life of another, or buying a Mac instead of a PC).

It bothers me that suicide, like many other forms of self-harm, has become somewhat “trendy” in recent years.  Not so much the deed itself (although statistics show a dramatic rise in suicide rates among young people since the 1960s), but talking about it and using threats of self-harm or suicide as a way of drawing attention to yourself.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  “But Karen, you’re a goth.  You write poetry about suicide.  You listen to music about suicide.  Aren’t you being hypocritical?”  Well, no.  Or at least, not in recent years.  There was a time when I wanted that sort of attention, but it was a fleeting thing, and I grew out of it.  I look back, now, and cringe a little to think of just how absolutely desperate I was for attention.  The real difference, I suppose, is that I actually did seriously contemplate killing myself on several occasions (and on one occasion actually made an attempt to do so, although I chickened out and induced vomiting long before a hospital visit would have been necessary).  And when people first began to find out about those incidents, I was horribly embarrassed by them.  It took years for me to come to terms with my own emotions and actions, and one way in which I managed that confrontation with my inner self was through art (especially poetry and music).  The most “cry for help-y” poetry that I write is never shared with the world, purely because I don’t want to seem as though I’m begging for attention.

And with most people, that’s simply not the case.

I have several friends who will talk, regularly, about killing themselves.  Sometimes they’ll do so in great detail, even.  And yet when push comes to shove, they have no intention of following through on it.  They’ve considered suicide as a romantic, abstract possibility, but have never faced it with a bottle of pills to their lips or a blade to their wrist.  They’ll say “I should just kill myself”, and then wait for the reaction.  Wait for the affirmation of their self-worth as the people listening fall over themselves trying to be the first to say “No, don’t talk like that!  You’re special and wonderful and we couldn’t handle it if you died!”

I’ve stopped giving out such platitudes.  My patience with “suicide for show” stunts ended with a friend in university who called me up, multiple times, telling me that I needed to come over or else he was going to end his life.  I wasn’t the only one he did this with.  Many people spent sleepless nights comforting this guy and assuring him of how important he was.  Eventually, he ended up having 9-1-1 dialed on him a few times and had to spend some time in hospital being psychologically evaluated.

My attitude now is fairly simple.  If you really want to kill yourself, I have no place stopping you.  Just go ahead and do it.  And if you come  to me expecting a reaction and expecting me to fall over myself “saving” you, don’t hold your breath.  I’ll offer to call 9-1-1 for you.  If you say yes, I’ll do it, and let them take you away and evaluate you and put you on happy pills.  If you say no, then you’d best either drop the topic, or go ahead and get on with it, because I don’t want to hear anything more about it.

Yeah, it sounds cruel.  But you know what I’ve learned?  If you really, truly wanted to end your life, you’d do it.  You’re the only one with the power to do (or not do) whatever it is you may be contemplating.  Involving anyone else in that decision is selfish, cruel, and pretty much just one of the most rat-bastardly things you can do.  Because now if you do go off and kill yourself, that person who you involved in it is going to feel guilty.  They’re going to wonder if there was anything they could have done differently.  And if you don’t go and kill yourself, then you’ve just wasted their time, scared them, and generally made them feel awful.  All because you wanted attention.

Such stunts become especially rat-bastardly when the people you’re involving aren’t just random people from the Internet or friends you’re not really that close to.  When the people you decide to say “I’m thinking about killing myself” to are actually people who love you — family, close friends, lovers, etc. — then you’re being extra-special kind of selfish.  Because even if it’s crystal clear that you’re not being serious, you’ve just forced them to think about what would happen if you ever did such a thing.  You’re threatening to rip away something they care about on a very deep level.  And you’re doing it for show, to satisfy your own ego.

Several weeks ago I stood by in horror while an acquaintance of mine explained in front of her own husband all the reasons why she felt she should kill herself, the method she would like to use, and many gory details … and then she didn’t do it.  She horrified and terrified this man who loves her, and who she claims to love in return, and she did it for pity and attention.  The incident’s been floating around in my head, like a bad smell, ever since.

If any of you, my dear readers, ever do such a thing to someone you love … well, I reserve the right to hit you.  Violence is rarely the answer, but somebody needs to shut you up if you ever think that such a thing is okay.