A friend told me a while ago that my desire to write and publish, as well as having this blog, exposed my desire for fame. I’m not sure I convinced him that I wanted nothing to do with fame. Not that I’m immune to wanting a little attention, or recognition, for creating something of value. That’s human nature. Though my primary motivation is creative expression, I wouldn’t mind earning financial freedom in the process.
When I was younger and more naïve, I would have welcomed fame, even though it probably would have killed me. I would have feasted on the elevated status of being someone of merit – a rock or movie star or celebrated artist that the girls all looked up to, only I never would have been able to handle the pressure. I would have been too unbalanced, too unstable, too drunk on my success and probably literally drunk to cover up the fraudulent fears. I had to grow older and wiser to realize that status only imprisons us; it doesn’t create balance. It only creates inequality.
Unfortunately we’ve built a society that encourages us to try to achieve it, to climb up society’s ladders, despite all the obvious evidence that celebrating the success of the few, rather than on balance for the many, is literally killing us.
There’s a lot of talk about the concept of evil, about hate crimes, about mental illness, guns, poverty, equal rights, jobs, religious intolerance, bad parenting, divisive politics, poor education, or whatever label or excuse we can come up with to explain senseless violence without ever shining the light on human nature. Most of these explanations have some merit, but mostly they just help us to move on and forget, knowing nothing will change, nothing will be done, and it’s only a matter of time before the next mass killing.
Who can blame us? The real work is too hard. Facing the harsh truth that such murderers are a product of our hierarchical society, and trying to change accordingly, is too daunting, even though these killings are symptoms of a sick culture.
They’re like intermittent chest pains in a man with heart disease who continues to smoke and eat poorly. A white man shooting black people, a cop gone bad, a maniac who slaughters children. The latest was obviously racial, but race alone doesn’t get to the heart of the matter. That’s too easy. That’s too obvious, and pointing out the hatred doesn’t solve anything. Hate is a result, it’s not the initial cause. Underneath race and hate is a belief in status, the desire to elevate ourselves over another. The white shooter, angry over his downtrodden failed life, looked for blame. Instead of envisioning a balanced, equal society – or rather, instead of living in a balanced, equal society that focuses on developing a good life for all, he believed the privilege he thought he deserved was slipping away. He thought he was born on a pedestal, above those immigrants or foreigners or descendants of slavery. Above the other, whatever that other is. He believed his privilege was natural. Some cops, I suspect, do too. At least that’s how they act – elevated by their acquired status, looking down at those they are supposed to protect.
They’re not alone. Everyone does it. It’s universal to judge, and all too easy to hate the other: the other team, the competition, the other religion, the other ideology. It’s easier to destroy something you look down on, and easy access to guns makes it possible to do so in massive quantities. Gun enthusiasts say, if only someone else, a good guy, had had a gun. Right. But why do victims have to need one? Maybe they’d prefer to live in a peaceful society where such concerns are unnecessary. Why are they forced to arm themselves because our society refuses to deal with the problem. What about their rights for living in peace? Why do the rights of gun nuts matter more?
Think of one of those soccer matches gone bad, where fights break out in the audience, the mob goes mad and riots uncontrollably. If only they all had guns, I’m sure no one would die, right? Is that the society we want?
It is the society we’re building, constructed of hierarchies, with most of us struggling to climb up to what we perceive as higher, safer ground, protected from those left behind. So we climb the corporate ladder, trying to become the manager, the CEO, the captain, the president, the priest, the principal, the great artist or athlete or writer, feeling more secure and better about ourselves the higher we go, celebrating the few who succeed, looking down at those below us, only to create an ocean of poor holding it all up so that the few can teeter at the top. Then we wonder why someone at the bottom occasionally explodes to try to bring it all down.
There’s only one solution, as far as I can tell, and that’s to create a more balanced society, focused on the good of all instead of elevating a few. The perfect utopian vision of a happily balanced society is unattainable, but trying to get there would be far better than what we’ve created so far. Sometimes I wish I could buy a large island, and fill it with like-minded, evolved folks wanting a balanced society. No guns allowed. End of problem.
I know what a gun enthusiast would say. That’s a fantasy, not dealing with reality. But giving everyone a gun is giving up, and accepting reality. Taking them a way is dealing with it.
Now, any comments that would like to elevate my ego with lavish praise are welcome.