Using an adage from my East Texas roots, America has more problems than we can shake a stick at.  Politicians, activists, pundits, celebrities, academia, business executives, and some preachers all are advancing their solutions or recommendations.  Sadly, virtually all of them fail to see the real problem and address the superficial. 

Granted, the problem is creating havoc and causing incredible trauma and pain but failing to see the root of the problem is to ensure that the problem never goes away.  In fact, it is almost a guarantee that it will worsen as we put band-aids on cancers, hoping our emotional reaction will cure the disease.  I wish it would, but it will not.

I saw a release from the Gun Violence Archive that stated that thus far in 2022 there have been 254 mass murders in America.  They define mass murder as any time there are at least 4 people killed or wounded, not including the shooter.  The problem with those statistics is their inclusion of the entire gamut of gun deaths.  They lump the gang-related shootings, drive-by shootings, and domestic outbursts of violence. 

The issue of shootings in schools, shopping malls, churches, and synagogues is the focus of the current ‘bi-partisan’, as it is being labeled, legislation coming down the pike.  Senator John Cornyn has attempted to insist that he and his cohorts compromised with each side giving up something to get something.  I still have not found what the Left gave up, but maybe it will surface as we go forward.

I have contended for a very long time that the problem is not the tool, implement, or weapon used it is in the person.  It is a problem in the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual state of the person.  But it goes far beyond that and cannot be simply declared that it is a mental health issue.  It is, in my view, a societal issue that is somewhat unique to America. 

If you accept the number of countries now existing in the world, based on the United Nations registry, there are 195.  If you do a bit of research, you will quickly surmise that there is no developed nation on the planet where there are as many mass killings are there are in America.  That is disturbing or should be.  If that is the truth, then it begs the question, Why?

In the tiny nation of Israel where people live under a constant threat of terrorism and the population is well-armed, needfully so they have about one-tenth as many shootings, per capita as we do in the United States.  That should scream that the problem is not the guns, but the individuals who opt to use them destructively.  That will fall on deaf ears, but it validates my contention that the gun is the superficial problem, not the root cause. 

I will not address the gangs or drug cartels and their violence because those are not a picture of the root problem.  What I desire to address is when seemingly ordinary citizens go berserk and commit the heinous act of mass murder.  Is there a common thread?  What could be the root cause?  Is there anything identifiable in their lives or in society that we can discover?  If there are common threads that identify root causes and uncover a societal and personal problem is there a solution? 

If the issue is societal or the mental state of the individual, then all the Red Flag Laws and gun bans, or restrictions will not alleviate that issue.  The idea that if we make guns illegal then there will be a reduction in gun violence is ludicrous.  We only have to review the statistics from those cities and states where the most stringent gun laws are in place to see that there is no reduction and often an increase.  Criminals will not abide by the laws and stripping the law-abiding of their ability for self-defense will exacerbate the problem.  It will cause the real problem to grow.

When I grew up in rural East Texas in the late 40s through the late-60s we did not have the problems we are facing today.  We had guns and in fact, it was unusual to see a pickup truck without a gun rack and a loaded rifle on display.  There were disputes, even fights, but seldom did anyone run to get the gun and kill somebody.  There was a different societal attitude and atmosphere.

I believe that we began to shift negatively in a very pronounced way during the Great Society of Lyndon B. Johnson.  His policies dismantled more Black families and homes than virtually anything previous.  The overt action to render God anathema in the public added to our societal problem.  We began to turn inward and ceased socializing with our neighbors and as the technological age began to burst into full bloom, video games, smartphones, and computers replaced personal interaction, and the mental state shifted inviting fear, paranoia, and anti-social behavior.

I read that in many European, Asian, and Latin American countries people live in communities.  In fact, it is reported that in cities it is not uncommon to find multiple generations living under the same roof.  They socialize not just on holidays and special occasions but daily.  They talk to each other. They meet on the streets and communicate.  Today, in America we tend to be laser-focused and ignore everyone and everything around us.  We cast a leery eye on anyone seeking to socialize. 

There are parts of this world where people will, at a certain time of the day, put on their best outfits and head to the streets to visit with their fellow townspeople.  When I grew up, we had the time or took the time to visit with our neighbors and it was not uncommon to see groups gathered socializing.  We knew our neighbors and what was going on in their lives. Today, many have no clue who their neighbors are and live isolated and insulated lives.

When we ceased interacting with each other and turned the focus inward, we opened the door for the problem we have today.  We created a virtual powder keg waiting to erupt and from time to time, it does.  The problem is the human heart and mind, not the gun, knife, baseball bat, or fist.  It is us not the inanimate object.

America was once called and aspired to be a melting pot where immigrants from various countries, ethnicities, religions and ideological views assimilated into the ethos of America.  Today we are far more like a salad than a melting pot.  Immigrants come but are not assimilated and remain distinctively the same as they were.  With the failure to assimilate, the disaster of the Johnson era, the polarization of society (fueled by politicians), and the horrifying number of people using antidepressants in America we can see the real problem.

I would include the fluidity of our society where few stay on the same job for more than 3-5 years and move frequently no long roots are being planted in communities.  Families are separated and the influence of parents and grandparents is lost to the influence of the educational system, television, and technology. 

Someone said, “Europeans work to live, but Americans live to work.”  We have almost no contact with our neighbors, know little of what is happening in our communities, and church attendance is increasingly infrequent.  Children stay home and play video games where the objective is to shoot quickly and eliminate as many bad characters as possible.  Abortion has devalued human life and we are a lonely people.

God made us to be social creatures and we need each other.  If a person is isolated and lonely and is subjected to high stress or develops mental and emotional problems in our society, there is no balm found in the community.  The problem festers and peace of mind dissipates.  Something can trigger them and push them over the brink resulting in their obtaining a weapon and committing horrendous acts of violence.

The problem has only one solution – GOD!  If we would return to God and find a way to remove our walls and interact with family, friends, neighbors and take a lesson from other countries on community socialization we would move rapidly toward a solution.  Banning guns and more drugs will not solve the problem.  It is a heart and mind problem and until we realize that we will continue to put band-aids on cancers and see the problem grow worse only frustrating everyone more.

God bless you and God bless America

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