We need to dig deeper than just gun reform and mental health. These are definitely key issues that we need to address immediately in my opinion, but I believe the root cause is deeper. Until we get to the root cause we are just putting a bandaid on the wound.
I believe that the deeper cause, the root cause, is that we have let fear control us. We have bought into the perception that we need to fear instead of love and this is the deeper rooted issue. We've been conditioned to believe in scarcity and the survival of the fittest. These conditioned beliefs are based in fear and create a whole host of responses centered in fear, in protection, in separation, in us against them, etc.
Fear-based thinking is how our mind works when we’re in a state of fear. Fear-based thinking creates a state in our brain that narrows our focus, restricts learning, blocks compassion and creativity. This ultimately causes us to be more self-centered and judgmental. Fear-based thinking makes us vulnerable to manipulation and interferes with problem solving, leading us to form rigid, emotionally based opinions that neglect input and logic.
Fear-based thinking stops us from asking questions and questions are the key to understanding. When we are in a fear-based mode we don't listen or attempt to understand, to be curious by asking ourselves and others hard questions.
Psychologist and social worker, Bob Van Oosterhout, explains that, "Fear-Based Thinking develops and deepens when we receive repeated messages that stimulate fear. Since fear gets and keeps our attention, it’s a useful tool for the media and entertainment industries. Fear is also a highly effective political tactic. It is easy to manipulate voters when fear keeps us from taking time to understand issues, question assumptions, or look beyond talking points and spin. When we’re in the grip of Fear-Based Thinking we tend to look for a strong leader to keep us safe without questioning whether he or she has our best interests at heart. Fear-Based Thinking leads us to process information in Dead End Categories of either/or, right/wrong, and good/evil. We reject all immigrants, all liberals, all republicans, all people who are different or disagree with us. This creates dependable voting patterns but leads to a break-down of communication and cooperation."
Fear-based thinking leads to separation, to hate and ultimately to violence. It disconnects us from others and leads to isolation and exclusion. Fear is the opposite of love. Where there is lovelessness there will inevitably be chaos and suffering. Fear causes us to lead with our head versus with our heart. Our heart contains the wisdom. Our heart contains the empathy, compassion, kindness, love...and solutions.
I encourage each of us to challenge our thinking, to dig deep, to consider the question...Is what we are currently doing working? Let's open our minds to consider a different path.
Let's use this as a wake up call, a challenge to wake up and be more conscious. A call to stop skimming through life. A call to live with more awareness and intention. A call to set aside fear and lead with love.
Let's recognize our commonality, our connectedness and our interdependence. Let's recognize that when one suffers, we all suffer, and honor that we are all one. Let's choose to ramp up our muscles of empathy, compassion, love, kindness, generosity, service, forgiveness, gratitude and grace.
Don't allow yourself to get desensitized to the occurrence of these events, or to get overwhelmed to the point where we throw our hands up and say the problem is too big for me to impact, or let someone else do it. We each can do our part, no matter how small and inconsequential it may seem to help heal this wound.