Trump Wants To Build A Wall, I Say Build A Mirror

Trump Wants To Build A Wall, I Say Build A Mirror

In a society that doesn't teach men to normally express their emotions, it's time to rethink how we view mass shootings.

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It's perhaps no secret that a lot of us are conditioned to hear of yet another mass shooting in America. But when it hits pretty close to home, this time in Aurora, Illinois, just west of Chicago, something about it strikes a different kind of chord.

On February 16, 2019, a gunman murdered 5 people at a water valve assembly plant, apparently after getting fired at the same facility. The youngest victim was a Northern Illinois University student, whose first day as an intern there was that day.

This whole situation in Aurora, which is sharing the same media spotlight as Donald Trump's national emergency declaration at the border, has got me thinking about what truly are the crises facing our nation. And given the trend of mass shootings often being perpetrated by men with histories of unhinged violent behavior, I say to the President and those on the right:

Build a mirror, not a wall.

When I say build a mirror, I mean take a good look at what you say and how you act.

When your ego and/or masculinity is challenged, why are you likely to retaliate out of anger and fear? When she tells you no, is it really her fault that you react angrily? Why do you find strong women and men wearing makeup personally threatening?

The main punchline here is that most of these mass shootings are often triggered by the bruising of fragile egos brought about by a hyper-masculine society. Take the Aurora shooter: he was a man who lost his job, presumably shunned by his coworkers according to eyewitness accounts, and felt his honor as a hard-working man deteriorate before his eyes.

This connection can further be seen with the case of Elliot Rodger, who in 2014 went on a shooting spree targeting college students in Santa Barbara, California because he believed that he was entitled to sex. It can even be extended to Nicholas Cruz, the Parkland shooter, who claimed to have been ostracized by his peers at Stoneman Douglas.

What I'm prescribing here is that we need to do something that gun policy can fix: have a national conversation on the overtly toxic masculine and implicitly competitive society we live in.

Rodger, Cruz, and Gary Martin (the Aurora shooter) all didn't need to murder so many people in cold blood. But at the same time, none of their victims woke up that day thinking they were going to be murdered.

Had they have lived in a society that dismantled their motives and aggressions for shooting, we might have hundreds of people still breathing today.

It's time that we begin to change the toxic narratives in our society that bring us the same broken records we hear every day. While this isn't to discourage fighting for sensible gun control policies, it does encourage us to look at the systemic roots that create a Russian roulette of when and where America's next mass shooting will be.

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.
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It won't.

Wait, what?

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town.

Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open-minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community.

I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK.

What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives.

What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all.

Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back: same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same-sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others.

As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being.

My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the Bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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The Disrespectful Nature Of My Generation Needs To Stop

Why choosing phone games over a Holocaust survivor was my breaking point.

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While many students that attended Holocaust survivor Hershel Greenblat's talk were rightfully attentive, I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, a few outlier students tapping away on their phones. They were minute movements, but inappropriate nonetheless.

Immediately I became infuriated. How, I thought, fuming, did my generation become so blithely unaware to the point where we could not proffer basic respect to a survivor of one of the most horrific events in human history?

Perhaps the students were just texting their parents, telling them that the event would run a bit long. 10 minutes later, my eyes diverted from Greenblat back to the students. They were still on their phones. This time, I could see the screens being held horizontally—indicating a game or a show was being played. I wanted to get up, smack the distractions out of their hands, and ask them why they thought what they were doing was more important than a Holocaust speaker.

I will not waste any more time writing about the disrespectful few. Because they could not give Greenblat the time of their day, I will not give them mine. Instead, I want to focus on a massive trend my generation has mistakenly indulged ourselves in.

The Greenblat incident is only an example of this phenomenon I find so confusing. From young, it was instilled in me, probably via Chinese tradition, that elders should be respected. It is a title only revoked when unacceptable behavior allows it to be, and is otherwise maintained. I understand that not everybody comes from a background where respect is automatically granted to people. And I see that side of the story.

Why does age automatically warrant respect? It is the fact that they have made it this far, and have interesting stories to tell. There are exceptions, perhaps more than there are inclusions.

But this fact can be determined by the simple act of offering an elderly person your seat on public transportation. Sure, it can be for their health, but within that simple act is a meaningful sacrifice for somebody who has experienced more than you.

Age aside, at Greenblat's talk, majority of the disrespect shown might not have been agist. Instead, it could have been the behavior students just there for the check-in check-out extra credit that multiple classes and clubs were offering. While my teachers who advertised the event stressed the importance of attendance not just for the academic boost, but for the experience, I knew that some of the more distracted students there must have been those selfish, ignorant, solely academic driven cockalorums.

I stay hopeful because majority of my classmates were attentive. We knew to put aside our Chromebooks, regardless of note-taking, and simply listen to what Greenblat had to offer.

It would be wrong to label my generation as entitled— that's a misnomer for the generation before. We are still wavering between the line of automatic respect and earned respect, but we need to set a line for people whom we know the stories of. Especially a Holocaust survivor.

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