EDITOR’S NOTE: Visit Gary Stamper’s website Collapsing Into Consciousness
There’s a passionate outcry in America to legislate gun control. By most accounts, the major culprit in the Sandy Hook killings is the proliferation of guns in our culture, and there’s a lot of information and statistics to back up those sentiments. Fareed Zakaria just penned an article on the Washington Post Opinion Page entitled, “The solution to gun violence is clear,” where he notes “People point to three sets of causes when talking about events such as the Newtown, Conn., shootings. First, the psychology of the killer; second, the environment of violence in our popular culture; and, third, easy access to guns.”
However, Zakaria uses hard data in social science that blows these generally accepted causes out of the water, pointing the finger directly at the third cause of easy access to guns as the primary culprit. The data “strongly suggest that we have so much more gun violence than other countries because we have far more permissive laws than others regarding the sale and possession of guns. With 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States has 50 percent of the guns.”
In the article he further writes, “There is clear evidence that tightening laws — even in highly individualistic countries with long traditions of gun ownership — can reduce gun violence. In Australia, after a 1996 ban on all automatic and semiautomatic weapons — a real ban, not like the one we enacted in 1994 with 600-plus exceptions — gun-related homicides dropped 59 percent over the next decade. The rate of suicide by firearm plummeted 65 percent. (Almost 20,000 Americans die each year using guns to commit suicide — a method that is much more successful than other forms of suicide.)”
Last, he claims that:
“The problems that produced the Newtown massacre are not complex, nor are the solutions. We do not lack for answers.”
“What we lack in America today is courage.”
And here, he is absolutely correct. However, Walter Shapiro, a Yahoo! News columnist examines how character collides with policymaking in Washington and in politics and sadly concludes that there is “no plausible remedy since we are neither going to disarm Americans nor are we going to pass out guns to elementary school teachers as a just-in-case precaution.” To add credence to his assessment he writes:
Four days after the shootings, the NRA’s official statement said, “The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.” By the end of the week, Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre shattered any misguided hopes of NRA compromise by poking his head out of his bunker and calling for armed police officers and more guns in every school in America. “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” LaPierre said. It brought visions of a crusty Charlton Heston waving a flintlock: “From my cold dead hands!”
As difficult as it will be to actually implement meaningful gun control, we have to try, but as long as we have a government and a president who has a hit list of targets he approves and SEAL assassin teams and drones to do the dirty work. moral concerns have been suspended. The tally of CIA drone strikes just in Pakistan between 2004 and 2012 stands at a minimum of 176 children, nearly nine times the number of dead children in the Newtown incident.
American politics are enforced at the point of a gun. Our military and police agencies depend on lethal weapons for their authority; intimidation is an important aspect of military/police authority, and civilians are meant to know this. This is why the 2003 bombing attack on Baghdad was called “shock and awe.” Lethal weapons are meant to suggest opposition is futile.
Consequently, having the government tell an individual citizen that they can’t have a gun is pure hypocrisy and begs the question: Can a violent government prevent more Newton-like tragedies?
Gun control alone, even if possible, is not going to solve the immense problems we have with violence in America.
Since 1982, there have been at least 61 mass murders carried out with firearms across the country, with the killings unfolding in 30 states from Massachusetts to Hawaii.” In forty-nine of the mass murders, the killers had obtained their weapons legally. This only includes mass murderers, not all of the gun-related murders in the U.S. Those numbers are much higher. This indicates that even if we only succeeded in taking away legally owned assault weapons, we could dramatically decrease the violence
What is it about the white, male, American middle-class experience that makes it easier for troubled young men to turn schools and movie theaters into killing fields? In an online article Hugo Schyzer states:
“White men from prosperous families grow up with the expectation that our voices will be heard. We expect politicians and professors to listen to us and respond to our concerns. We expect public solutions to our problems. And when we’re hurting, the discrepancy between what we’ve been led to believe is our birthright and what we feel we’re receiving in terms of attention can be bewildering and infuriating. Every killer makes his pain another’s problem. But only those who’ve marinated in privilege can conclude that their private pain is the entire world’s problem with which to deal. This is why, while men of all races and classes murder their intimate partners, it is privileged young white dudes who are by far the likeliest to shoot up schools and movie theaters.”
But it’s not only Mass murders. It’s also the level of violence by men in America. We have raised an entire generation of young males that don’t know how to be men, and many of them feel completely lost. Sometimes they feel so lost that they “snap” in very destructive ways. Adam Lanza and James Holmes are two names that come to mind. Why is it that mass murderers are almost always young men? Why don’t young women behave the same way? Sadly, Adam Lanza and James Holmes are just the tip of the iceberg of a much larger problem in our society.
When our young men grow up, many of them are extremely averse to taking on responsibility. They want to have lots of sex, but they aren’t interested in marriage. They enjoy the comforts of living at home, but they don’t want to go out and pursue career goals so that they can provide those things for themselves. Our young men are supposed to be “the leaders of tomorrow”, but instead many of them are a major burden on society. When are we finally going to admit that something has gone horribly wrong?
There is even a name for this generation of young men that does not want to grow up. It is called the “Peter Pan generation”. They want to enjoy the benefits of being grown up without ever taking on the responsibilities. But it’s not just young men who haven’t grown up. There are a lot older “Peter Pans” as well.
What is it about men?
There is plenty of blame to go around. Certainly parents and our education system have to bear much of the blame. Traditionalism says that in the old days, young men were taught what it means to “be a man”, and morality was taught to young men both by their parents and in the schools. But today, most young men have very little understanding of what “manhood” is, and our society has taught them that morality doesn’t really matter. Instead, television and movies constantly portray young men as sex-obsessed slackers that just want to party all the time, so that is what many of our young men have become. We have an enormous cultural failure around instilling values and helping young men transition into responsible adulthood.
In the introduction to my book, Awakening the New Masculine, I write about the root causes of why boys don’t develop into men:
“Western culture does not adequately support boys or men, or boys becoming men. We have completely lost touch with the concept of elders as wisdom keepers, and the elders we do have were not given the tools they needed to become those wisdom keepers. Today, elders are burdens instead of valuable resources. Our elders have not been taught how to pass on wisdom, identities, and boundaries to the next generation. And in a society without fathers, most of us have been under-fathered and over-mothered.
We’ve created a world of Peter Pans, or puers, who never grow up and want to marry trophies instead of wives, and girls who want someone to take care of them instead of bold partners. The current older generation of men, especially in the United States, has, to a great extent, not been mentored by their own fathers.
The levels of depression, suicides, drug abuse, alcoholism, and violence among men are all rising exponentially to the point of being staggering and frightening. Ninety-four percent of all inmates are male. Men live an average of seven years fewer than women, suffer far more from ulcers and stress-related disease than women, and are far more likely than women to die from the fifteen leading causes of death.
Over 80 percent of all suicides are committed by men. In the twenty-to-twenty-four age bracket, males commit suicide six times as much as females, and over the age of eighty-five, men are fourteen times as likely to commit suicide as women.”
This, and numerous other articles, books, and blogs, are all pointing at the same thing: Why haven’t we come to terms with the crisis of modern male immaturity?
It’s been reported that Adam Lanza’s father, Peter Lanza, a tax specialist with GE, is clueless as to why his son snapped. It appears that, as pointed out above, Adam Lanza had been “under-fathered and over-mothered.” How might things had been different had Peter Lanza continued investing in his son’s personal development? In the end, the tragedy speaks volumes about the capitulation of family dynamics and how sometimes a festering of resentment and hostility can unwittingly manifest itself in the most violent form when much needed redress fails to manifest itself.
Again, from Awakening the New Masculine:
“The problem, of course, is much larger than just bad fathering, although that is an issue. The bigger issue is a lack of any father or other healthy masculine influence in an age of single parents.”
Make no mistake: the solution is complex and must dealt with from a wide range of issues including gun control, mental health, socio-economic and cultural issues, government, movies and video violence, and other contributing factors. There can be no doubt that this is a problem with men.
What can we do?
In spite of what Fareed Zakaria said in the opening paragraph of this article, as complex as the problems are, the answers are even more complex, but there are few places we can begin.
We have all been wounded by our primary caretakers, by our culture, and by each other. We must begin heal these wounds if we are to begin stepping back into sanity. The difficulty of doing so is compounded by the clash of differing belief systems and worldviews that don’t agree on what should be done, and about another worldview, called apathy. We can only solve the last by somehow reconciling these other opposing worldviews. One way to do this is to create a system that recognizes the truth and values in the contrasting worldviews, understanding that they are largely developmentally organized. In other words, some approaches are correct for some, other approaches are correct for others, but some approaches are correct for everyone at their particular level of development.
In America, most young boys are at either a power or traditional stage of development. We know how to nurture healthy development in both of these stages, but we don’t seem to have the willpower to do it. Plus, our cultural and educational system is geared toward turning young people into obedient workers rather than critical thinkers. Ultimately, this is a continuing problem with cultures, empire, elitist values, patriarchal rule, and dominance of the human spirit.
From Awakening the New Masculine:
“We have surrendered to a hero image that we can’t possibly attain and the accumulation of wealth, disregarding everything but our own ego and power. Patriarchy is the consciousness of greed, the conqueror, and moves forward willfully, throwing its weight around and bending all before it to its will. The patriarchy is the bully … and worse. Patriarchy is the enemy of the healthy masculine.
As men, we are the product of all that has come before us: the Mesolithic hunters, gatherers and Neolithic farmers of matrilineal culture (7000–2000 BC); the Indo-European warriors emphasizing the male sky gods in the centuries of the Bronze and Iron Age (2000–800 BC); the turn of the millennium with the advent of Christian mythology and its concepts of dualistic division between body and soul, world and spirit and Original Sin; and finally the age of scientific rationalism that allows for nothing supernatural or spiritual and reduces the universe to a language of numerical abstraction―mathematics.
We are also the wounded warriors.
Centuries of patriarchy have numbed our souls, our feelings, and our spirit, and we are beginning to awaken to the need to love and work in ways that heal our lives, the lives of those we love and the lives of those we want to love and want to be worthy of.”
Joseph Campbell states that it takes a “hero’s journey” for boys to become men and for men to revitalize themselves within the context of our twenty-first century culture and immediate life circumstances. Postmodern man, by and large, has been lulled to sleep, and it both is and isn’t their fault. Men either have succumbed to the pursuit of things or have gotten stuck in overfeminization rather than learning to feel, followed by owning those feelings and reclaiming their masculinity. Both the pursuit of objects and the overfeminization of men are at fault. We must learn to pass on our own healing to our sons and to all of the sons of the world. It will require creating a new world, and it will be hard, but what choice do we have?
To not engage with creating this new world means that the stunted masculine will remain fixated at immature—and possibly pathological— levels. This “boy psychology” shows up as abusive and violent acting-out behaviors against each other, women, the planet, and in the cultural and social organization of patriarchy that has ruled much of the planet for thousands of years.
In Creations Magazine, author Robert Moore points out, “Patriarchy, in our view, is an attack on masculinity in its fullness as well as femininity in its fullness. Those caught up in the structures and dynamics of patriarchy seek to dominate not only women but men as well. Patriarchy is based on fear—the boy’s fear, the immature masculine’s fear—of women, to be sure, but also fear of men. Boys fear women. They also fear real men.”
If men can begin to take on the task and responsibility of their own processes and those of young men moving from boyhood into mature manhood as seriously as our tribal ancestors did, then maybe we can move into new ways of being and beginnings instead of the beginnings of the end of our species.
All of this, of course, depends on how well and how fast we can step into facing our own immaturities.
Last-minute addendum: While getting ready to send this out, new developments emerged that are seemingly connected to both the Connecticut and the Aurora, Colorado shootings. CNN Money is “reported to have reported” that the LIBOR banking scandal is growing as the fathers of Adam Lanza and Colorado movie theater shooter John Holmes were allegedly expected to testify “before the US Senate in the ongoing LIBOR banking scandal. The London Interbank Offered Rate, known as LIBOR, is the average interest rate at which banks can borrow from each other. 16 international banks have been implicated in this ongoing scandal, accused of rigging contracts worth trillions of dollars. HSBC has already been fined $1.9 billion and three of their low level traders arrested.” Still fairly unknown to the general public, it is the biggest banking scandal of all time that almost no one has heard of.
I could not find a CNN Money article to verify the claims above.
This article from Talking Points Memo by Benjy Sarlin states, “This rumor is 100% false,” a Senate Banking Committee aide, who asked not to be named, told TPM by email. “The Senate Banking Committee does not have any LIBOR hearings currently scheduled, and has never considered either of these men as potential witnesses.”
The biggest banking scandal of all time and the Senate Banking Committee has no hearings currently scheduled? No wonder the conspiracy elements are out in full force.
About Gary Stamper: Gary Stamper is the author of Awakening the New Masculine: The Path of the Integral Warrior, and the creator of the Integral Warrior Men’s Process. Gary holds a PhD in shamanic psychospiritual studies and is the founder and creator of a brand new website and forum premiering in January of 2013 called Collapsing into Consciousness. He lives in intentional community in the Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina.