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What’s the Motive for the Mass Shootings on Twitter?

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WHAT’S THE MOTIVE FOR THE MASS SHOOTINGS ON TWITTER?

There’s been a mass shooting! Let the games begin! Grab your word-weapons of choice and get to your Twitter battle stations!

Although the San Bernardino murder venue is particularly disturbing — a facility for people with disabilities — a mass shooting isn’t unusual anymore: we’ve had more mass shootings in 2015 than we have had days.

What is shocking to me, though, is the virtual bloodshed, which is every bit as hate-filled as the bullet and bomb-induced bloodshed. I’m not a huge Twitter person; I’m too addicted to Facebook to spend much time tweeting. I tweet a photo or a link once in a while.

Yesterday was the first time I monitored Twitter for any length of time. Wow. America is even sicker than I thought, which is saying quite a bit.

Someone to Blame

I first got on Twitter yesterday to sarcastically point people to the National Rifle Association’s website, where for twenty-five bucks you can join up and get a free copy of their magazine Freedom, the cover emblazoned with the words: The Catastrophic Consequences of Gun Registration. You can also purchase their lovely holiday cards featuring bald eagles and American flags and a special cute puppy collection.

I admit spewing at the NRA — as evil and culpable as they are — wasn’t a particularly helpful contribution, but it made me feel better. I felt angry and powerless and needed someone to blame.

I was surprised to instantly have scads of people liking and re-tweeting my little jab at the NRA. Weird. So I scrolled. And scrolled. Oh. My. God.

Right-Wing Rage

#He’s a Muslim! is trending big-time. The RWNB (right wing nut-balls, for those not in the know) are ecstatic that the killer is #notawhiteguy and has a “funny name” and is probably a terrorist, so of course this has nothing to do with gun control.

Except, except – didn’t they use guns? Wouldn’t it be better if terrorists couldn’t get multiple guns legally at Walmart? Oh, no matter. #He’s a Muslim! It’s not #2nd amendment!

We quickly go from accusations of a #mediaconspiracy to hide the guy’s funny name to protect #radicalIslamists, to Syrian refugees being behind it all. And of course, our president.

Barack Hussein Obama

Barack Hussein Obama

“See?” tweets one RWNB, “Now Barack Hussein Obama has a whole army of Syrian illegal aliens.”

Jesus Christ, have mercy on us.

Liberal Rage

And speaking of Jesus Christ — just as nasty as the conservative racism and hatred of Muslims is the liberal vitriol and outrage at the people actually PRAYING about this. Praying, for pity’s sake! What an abomination!

#stoppraying is becoming a popular hashtag. “What a waste! Don’t pray, do something!” is the sentiment. “Praying to an imaginary friend is what causes these shootings!”

This puts me, an unabashed liberal whose first impulse is nevertheless to pray, in an awkward position. I know liberals aren’t supposed to pray these days, it’s bad form. Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela are just so . . . yesterday.

But clearly, humans on their own can’t solve these problems. We have a deep soul-sickness. We are destroying our own planet, for God’s sake! Do we not need a power greater than ourselves?

I know that the liberals are angry and lashing out at hypocritical right-wing politicians who say they are praying, tell others to pray, and then fight gun control with every blessed breath they’ve got. But really, liberal friends. Get a grip. People praying is not the problem.

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Making Sense of the Soul-Sickness

I happen to believe that only the Great Good Spirit can change hearts and teach love and unity instead of fear and division. Until the hate and fear stop, the carnage — both the virtual and the flesh & blood – isn’t going to stop.

So I’m going to pray. #Excusethehelloutofme. And I’m going to work to pass gun control legislation. And I’m going to try not to judge or hate people who disagree with me.

All of these unfortunate rage-filled tweeters are really just trying to make sense of this soul-sickness. We are all trying to understand, to find someone to blame, to fit these atrocities into our narratives of reality. It’s Muslims! It’s religious people! Too many guns! Not enough guns! It’s liberals/conservatives/right/left! It’s starving, frightened Syrian refugee children!

See, if we can explain it — no matter how big a stretch we make — maybe we can control it. Maybe it won’t happen to someone we love. Or to us.

Processing Charleston

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Sometimes I wish I were a cat. I would not know about racism or gun violence or mental illness. I would not know about terrorism or climate change. I would never have heard of the Ku Klux Klan or the National Rifle Association or Donald Trump (although I would sacrifice a few of my nine lives to wrestle with that hairpiece).

Watching the World

Seeing the world from a different perspective

I arrived at my country place in New Hampshire this week, just in time for the Charleston AME shootings. Bad and sad things often seem to happen when I’m up here, or perhaps I’m just more affected because the pace is slower and I have time to dig a little deeper into the news than I generally do.

I read interviews with victims, I look at pictures of traumatized citizens, I follow links to studies about gun violence, I check to see what reality Fox News is creating (this is an attack on faith and likely has nothing to do with race). I even look at Twitter (random NRA woman says Obama is ecstatic about the latest shooting because it plays into his plot to use race issues to steal her guns).

I get drained and alarmed visiting this reality, and I feel isolated since I don’t have many social connections up here. So I turn to Facebook to see what my friends are saying about it all. A few comment on how sad it is; a few say they are praying. But most have moved on and are posting pictures of their dinners, their new tattoos, or their pets. The mass murder was several days ago, after all.

I decide to escape and go see a movie in town, a harmless sci-fi flick about artificial intelligence. Since I do not provide economic support for violence in the movies, I google just to be sure — although what kind of violence would a movie about computers contain? A variety, it turns out, including:  “strong scenes of violence, with slicing, stabbing, and lots of blood.”

OK, scratch the movie.

I sit down to write a blog post because writing is how I process.

My cat yawns and decides to abandon her chipmunk monitoring post for the moment. She rubs against my leg, then randomly drops down and rolls over, writhing with joy in the moment.

The Time I Stole Swisher Sweets and Didn’t Get Shot

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I’ve been thinking about the time I stole a package of Swisher Sweet cigarillos. Despite the encouragement of my friends who liked to stick it to “the system” as often as possible, I did not shoplift much as a kid — just a yo-yo, a lipstick, and the Swisher Sweets. That’s why I remember the event clearly.

swisher

It was a small package, maybe four or five cigarillos, and I stole them from Packett’s Pharmacy in Chevy Chase, Maryland. I was with Frank D., who stole a smoking pipe and a Mars Bar.

It was Autumn, and the leaves rustled under our feet as we walked up the street with our loot to hang out on the benches outside the public library. Every Friday night, a dozen or more long-haired high school kids would congregate there to act cool. Our parents told themselves that we were studying. Sometimes we were, mostly we weren’t. Nobody questioned us or told us to move along. Incidentally, we were all white.

I was fifteen. I did not get caught stealing from Packett’s. There were no security cameras back in those days.

Odds are good that there was marijuana in my blood — there often was back then. The odds were also good that I was not going to be shot for stealing those Swisher Sweets, even if I had gotten caught, walked down the middle of the street, and been aggressive with “the pigs,” as we respectfully called officers of the law in the early seventies.

What Matters

I’m not saying that the cop who shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 9th did so because he thought Michael had stolen Swisher Sweets. I’m not wading into that controversy — it doesn’t matter from where I stand, except that I think the police ought to be honest about it.

I’m not saying Michael was smoking pot, either. That doesn’t matter to me. Yes, it matters that “anonymous officials” are flinging around “facts” about the case and the autopsy in an unprofessional manner, which — surprise! — makes some people suspect an intentional smear campaign against Michael Brown.

But in the end what does matter, and matters very much, is that there’s another African American boy dead in our streets, shot by bullets from a police officer’s gun. I suppose that somebody somewhere might think that stealing cigarillos and smoking pot is punishable by gunshots to the head, but I don’t know them.

Maybe Michael did get aggressive, maybe he didn’t. No doubt both he and the officer were scared out of their wits. Who knows what happened on that street?

Nobody’s perfect, not cops, not teenagers. Everybody makes mistakes. I’ve made a lot worse ones than stealing Swisher Sweets.

But people who make the mistake of pulling a trigger six times and shooting a kid dead should not be police officers.

I’m not judge and jury, but perhaps if at least some of these trigger happy cops went to jail, our streets would be safer for everyone.

Safety First: A First Date Gone Terribly Wrong

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How did I get here, on the floor?

Who is this man

With the red face and the red eyes?

He smiles like he’s nice,

But he’s not.

He laughs like it’s fun,

But it’s not.

He pulls my clothes

And rips the buttons off my new dress,

The one with the little pink and red roses.

I felt so pretty.

Now I feel dirty

Stuck here on the floor

By the stairs.

Little Roses

Little Roses

This is my inner five-year-old’s remembrance of a first date gone very wrong, circa 1987. You tell me why I dated this guy for several months. I refer you back to my previous post on becoming a woman of dignity — this takes time.

This poem is in response to today’s WordPress Daily Prompt, “Share the story of a time you felt unsafe.”

A Rant About Violent Movies

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So you want a rant, do you? What? You say you’re tired of the frothing at the mouth, end of the world, I-have-all-the-answers racket that goes on 24 hours a day now?

Me, too. But this one can’t be helped.

Creating Demand for Violence

The WordPress blogmeister has this thing called Mind the Gap where you present your “side” of an issue.  I rarely participate because as I say, I’m tired of negativity and division and general pointless opining.

But this week, they asked: Does watching violent movies inspire violence in the real world?

This is something personal to me, like being a vegetarian.

Several decades ago, I chose to stop supporting violence in the movies after I heard some producer saying that the reason they made so many violent movies was because that’s what people wanted. So I thought I would vote with my dollars.

I miss an awful lot of movies, and I often can’t join in conversations with my friends who have just seen a film I skipped because of violence. I’m sure some people think I’m eccentric or stodgy or overly dramatic. I don’t care.

I feel pretty strongly about this. I do not want that crap in my head. It is bad for my psyche. I think it’s bad for your psyche, too. And I think it’s bad for a budding young terrorist’s psyche.

Does it affect society? Damn straight it does. Frankly, I do not know and I do not care what studies show. It is common sense.

I cannot believe that people are seriously asking about the Boston bombers, “How could a young man who grew up in America commit such an unspeakable act?”

Duh.

Garbage in, garbage out. Blood and gore in, blood and gore out.

I wonder if one reason so many people are on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds is that we’re all walking around with mild post-traumatic-stress-disorder from exposing ourselves to blood and guts and body parts and decapitations and stabbings and shootings and bombs.

That is not entertainment to me. It is trauma.

At best, we can brace ourselves for violence in a film, inure ourselves, numb ourselves. How is that good? Why should I pay money for that?

This is not an unpleasant reality we’re forced to face, like a Boston Marathon bombing; it is an unpleasant fake reality people choose to subject themselves to. It’s a cheap, low-blow to the gut that makes people think they have seen an effective movie.

Remember the great Alfred Hitchcock films? Those scary movies from the 40s and 50s and 60s that practically made you pee your pants?  Yet in his most celebrated films, the murders always took place off stage. Maybe the shadow of a knife.

You lost none of the drama – in fact the subtlety contributed to the terror. Until the Psycho shower scene, when Hitchcock gave in to the pull of violence, and we started our inexorable plunge down the drain to the cesspool we’re in now.

We Don’t Even Recognize Violence Anymore

The other night I went to a movie at my local theater.

“Is it violent?” I asked at the ticket window.

“Noooo,” the guy said, considering.

“You don’t sound too sure,” I said. He knows me. I ask this question every week.

“Well, two older women walked out of the last show, but it’s not that bad.”

“That’s OK,” I said. I went home and watched a Downton Abbey episode instead.

I found out later that the whole movie was about violence, but one friend explained that it really wasn’t violent because it had a redemptive ending where the guy decides not to pull the trigger (this, after several hours of carnage).

One Voice for Nonviolence – Plus One, Plus One, Plus…

I know it seems silly. One person’s choice to boycott gratuitous violence in movies won’t make a difference in what Hollywood does. True. One person might not make a difference. But if one person doesn’t start, it is guaranteed nothing will change.

It’s like being a vegetarian. Back in the early seventies when I quit eating meat, only one percent of Americans were vegetarians. I didn’t know one. Now – depending on whose polls you look at – it’s 5% to 13%. And that doesn’t include the 1/3 of the population that regularly eats vegetarian meals. This weekend I went to a local vegan festival and hundreds of people showed up. Here are two of them — perfectly normal folks.

Vegans

Vegans are Sprouting up Everywhere

Eating meat is not good for me. Watching violent scenes is not good for me. I don’t think either of those things is good for you either, but I’m not going to get in your business. You make your own choices. But at least think about it, OK?

And a last word from the Bible, because I like the Bible:

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. “

Thanks to Publicdomainpictures.net

All is Not Merry in Connecticut

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As the news continues to pour in about the latest horrific school shooting – dozens dead at an ELEMENTARY school in Connecticut this time – we are reminded that all is not well just because there are red and green lights strung about. The world can be a shocking and painful place.

I had been meaning to blog about grief during the holiday season, and today seems appropriate.

This is not a breezy or light-hearted post, as mine are wont to be. No pictures, no humor.

If you need it, read it. Otherwise, skip it or share it with someone who does need it.

This is about surviving terrible loss.

I am grateful that although I’ve experienced a lot of pain and losses over the past five years, this holiday season, things seem to be getting back on an even keel.

Thank God. Being down at this time of year is the pits. This is my fifth Christmas without my mother. Certain carols still bring on the tears, but the grief is no longer acute, just a deep vacancy within my heart.

Grief is a life-long process, as we incorporate painful losses into our lives – the death of beloved friends and family, the loss of our health or our home, broken relationships, job changes, and other major transitions. The holidays can be an especially difficult time, even many years after a loss.

Often we experience the “holiday blues” simply because holidays bring up memories and highlight changes in our lives. If you’re feeling down, you are not alone. Many people would probably welcome a few quiet moments during this busy season to listen to you and to share a few memories of their own. Reach out and let people know how you are feeling.

Here are a few tips that might help you get through holiday grieving.

  • Stay Connected with your Feelings

Give yourself permission to feel and express your emotions. Make sure to create time and space to honor your feelings. There is no ‘right way’ to do this – write in a journal, go for a walk, meditate and pray, exercise. Be present with your own grief and by all means, cry if you need to. Tears are an emotional release and help cleanse our bodies of toxins. If others are uncomfortable with your tears, that’s their issue. This is your grief and your holiday. And if a little happiness or even joy creeps in this year, embrace it. Don’t feel guilty. Mixed emotions are normal during bereavement, especially during this season.

  • Be Kind to Yourself

Get plenty of rest, eat nourishing foods and drink lots of water. Try to avoid excessive alcohol and sweets, which can contribute to depression and stunt your grieving process by numbing your feelings. Put your health and healing first. Simplify and try not to over-do social engagements, shopping, decorating and other holiday “musts.” Do what you can, but give yourself permission to miss a party or buy cookies instead of baking them. Skip the Christmas cards unless they help you process. Slow down. Take a bubble bath, a tea break, read a book, get a massage. Treat yourself as you would treat a dear friend who has been bereaved. Be alone when you need to, and reach out when you want company.

  • Plan Ahead

Don’t allow the holidays to simply happen to you. Give yourself as much control as you can; know where you will be, and when. Keep your schedule manageable and learn to politely decline invitations. Decide which activities and traditions are helpful and which are not. Choose to be with safe, supportive people and put off the “obligations.” Remember to give yourself time to be alone with your feelings. You might try taking your family and other people in smaller doses – look into staying in a hotel or plan an “escape break” to a park or a movie during your holiday activities.

  • Communicate your Feelings and Needs

Let people know how you are feeling. Tell them what you can handle, and what is too much for you. Be open about what you want to talk about and what you would rather not. Ask for help with chores, errands, and decorating. Guide your friends and family in the best way to help you. You are not a burden. People feel good about helping and just need to know what you need.

  • Say No to Expectations and Comparisons

Don’t try to live up to expectations of how you should feel or act – your own or other people’s. You may even feel expectations from your deceased loved one, “She would have wanted me to…” If you’re religious, you might think that “Godly people” should not be sad or depressed – but Jesus wept and grieved for people. Try not to compare yourself or your family with others. Everyone grieves in different ways – give yourself plenty of space and grace. Accept your limitations and don’t beat yourself up.

  • Create or Eliminate Traditions and Rituals

Talk to your family and decide which rituals and traditions are healing. Some may be too painful. Compromise with each other. Incorporate memories of your loved one into your holiday. Write poems or prayers, light a candle, create a memorial piece of artwork together. Hang a new ornament, volunteer at a nonprofit that your loved one supported. Remember that what you do this year doesn’t have to be repeated next year. You may choose a new ritual next year. Do what feels right for you now.

  • Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Professional Help

If you are feeling overwhelmed or immobilized by negative or destructive emotions, don’t try to be super human. There are many support groups and programs that can help. Most counties have hospice grief groups during the holidays.

  • Remember, You Will Survive

This time of year will likely be the most difficult season of your grief. But you will get through it. Our anticipation of the holidays is always worse than the holiday itself. You don’t have to enjoy the holidays; you don’t even have to pretend. Rest and be kind to yourself. You are not alone.

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