The Newtown CT school massacre was only yesterday. Yet too much has already been said. So many words. I hesitate adding my own. We all try to “make sense” of something like this, but that’s a fool’s errand. We can try to anticipate or protect ourselves from evil, but it will never make sense. We must be very clear on that. The murder of 26 innocent people, most of them children, is nothing if it is not evil. While the murderer might also have had a mental health diagnosis, it was secondary to his criminality. Research shows that individuals with a mental health diagnosis alone are no more likely to be violent than individuals without a diagnosis. It is character (personality) disordered people who kill. I noticed a yard sign today that said “God Bless the Victims”. It also said “God Bless America”. I love my country. I hope I love my country enough to hold it accountable. I would hope I love myself the same way. I think the sign should have said “God Forgive America”. If we had the will, we would find a way to stop the carnage. The rest of the world watches in horror and amazement as we continue to allow our children, American citizens, to be slaughtered. We have come to worship the Baal of gun violence. Repentance is in order. And true repentance always involves action. I would also hope that President Obama would see this as his epiphany moment. And then triple his security staff.
While having various meanings in the past, Black Friday has congealed to mean the day retailers plan on turning a profit, as in being “in the black”. It has also become a domestic disgrace, a black mark on our national character. Black Friday is an insane feeding frenzy, where stuff is consumed that will become obsolete and end up in a landfill almost as quickly as our turkey is ingested and excreted. Thanksgiving has been one of the few holidays not contaminated with commercialism; it seems the only choice of retail interests has been to just obliterate it, replacing it with Black Thursday. On the bright side, perhaps now we can dispense with the myth that the First Thanksgiving was anything other than a prelude to genocide. Thanksgiving was supposed to be all about family. Where are the family values people when we could actually use them? Golly gee they must be shopping. Yesterday shoppers got punched, pushed, gunned down, tasered, and rammed. One shopper was quoted as saying this was crazy but felt powerless, like she had no choice but to shop. In a 12 Step program that’s Step One, to admit to being powerless over a substance or an activity. Will Rogers wrote that “advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don’t have on something they don’t need”. If Rogers were alive today, quite possibly he wouldn’t accuse big government or gay marriage or holiday trees of “bringing down the country”. He might say the real culprit is stuff.
We live in anxious times. Will Iran get the bomb? Will we be laid off? How will our kids do on NJASK? Will we get a second date? If we are adults, anxiety can also stem from events long past, for example emotional abuse at home or bullying at school. Anxiety is marked by that pit in our stomachs, trembling, sweating, and a general feeling of dread. Our blood pressure and heart rate increases, and our digestion slows. It’s difficult to think about anything other than whatever is making us anxious. It may be useful to distinguish between anxiety and fear. Fear is a response to an immediate threat, while anxiety is a more generalized and amorphous feeling of apprehension. This is why the root causes of anxiety can be more elusive and can necessitate a bit of detective work to figure out. For example, anxiety can be triggered by anger or even grief that remains unacknowledged. Losses or betrayals in the past can render us anxious about relationships in the present. If we struggled with our schoolwork, we can doubt ourselves and become anxious when faced with a new task at work. The good news is that once we identify the causes of our anxiety, we are well on the way to finding ways to manage it. Support, consultation, exercise, and relationship or lifestyle changes are a good place to start.