Mass shootings are not a them problem, they're an us problem.
Homelessness is not a them problem, it's an us problem.
Climate Change is not a them problem, it's an us problem.
Corporate greed is not a them problem, it's an us problem.
The Opioid epidemic isn't a them problem, it's an us problem.
Human trafficking isn't a them problem, it's an us problem.
Mass incarceration isn't a them problem, it's an us problem.
Teacher shortage isn't a them problem, it's an us problem.
College Debt isn't a them problem, it's an us problem.
These problems exist because we either allowed, participated in or even helped construct them. And until every single person can take ownership for the ways in which they've participated in AND commit to actively working to create solutions, then the problems will continue to persist.
I hear people blame individual houseless people for their circumstances. This is the easy way to look at homelessness because it doesn't require people to do any work. You don't have put yourself in their shoes, you don't have to question what systems you participate in that may have contributed, you don't have to question your own humanity and you don't have to do anything to help. Blaming the victim is a free pass to separate oneself from another's suffering. But, what you may not realize is that denying shared humanity causes you to suffer too. .
All of the social problems that we're currently facing in the US are related. It doesn't matter if we're talking about the Opioid crisis or teacher shortages. They all have to do with a disconnection from what's real and true. It's a disconnection from ourselves, other people and nature. It's ascribing to and celebrating individualism. It's feeling like we have to figure everything out on our own. It's a lack of support and it's a lack of time to just be.
If you are religious then you recognize that you are one with your God and that everyone is a child of God. If you are atheist and you believe in the big bang theory then you understand that we are all born from the cosmos and all connected through the same energetic matter. If you are spiritual then you understand all of this and that "love is the way". No matter how you slice it, we are all connected. And when we forget, when we shame, blame and other, we lose connectedness. Disconnection leads to discontentment, hopelessness and greed, which leads to all of the problem's we're facing.
Social problems are our problems. Again, social problems exist because people are actively participating in systems that create and perpetuate the issues. Multiple mass shootings don't occur because of individuals and their poor mental health and they don't happen just because of guns. They happen because we've created social systems that manufacture these shooters. Capitalism by nature is designed to benefit few and exploit many. The social problems in the US have been caused by the capitalistic mentality of individualism. Humans are not individualistic by nature; we're tribal. In order to thrive we need community. Literally, in order for our brains to function properly we need connection with humans and nature. Capitalism asks us to deny this truth.
It's not working.
Today, I will spend the day praying for those who are affected by the shooting last night, snuggling with my kids and grappling with how even my idyllic home state of Maine isn't even safe anymore. I will also decide what systems I am no longer willing to participate in and ways that I can ensure more connection for me and my family.
We are responsible for last night's shooting. And we will be responsible for the next one. Our complacency and participation will no longer do. We must all decide how we are going to collectively solve all of the problems we're facing. If we don't accept responsibility for these actions then who will? It's become clear to me that no one is coming to save us. We must demand more from ourselves and each other. We must gather and problem solve. We must take ownership for OUR society's problems.
As always, thank you for reading.
There's a song for that: "American Dream", Switchfoot