WHY WE FAIL WHEN WE FOCUS ON THE "MOTIVE" OF MASS SHOOTERS/TERRORISTS
- •It is a natural, human instinct to try to understand why people do evil, depraved acts.Our brains naturally try to neatly organize things, to render them understandable so we can move on.
- •While grabbing onto a narrative is comforting, it is also dangerous.There is a part of all of us that is able to exhale once we identify the motive behind the latest terrorist attacks or mass homicides. If we can blame religion, mental illness, or bigotry then we can distance ourselves.
- •Focusing on motive allows us to believe that each act is about the individual, rather than the system and society that we live in and perpetuate.We are able to pretend that it is about the individual and their circumstance, and are free to ignore the way that this pattern of murder and violence indicts all of us-for our silence, for our unwillingness to force a revolution, to force a change.
- •It allows us to pretend that we are in control.There's an idea that if we can just understand why people do these awful acts, then we can prevent them. But there will always be someone who feels wronged, and by extension morally justified in getting their revenge.
- •Instead, we must focus on the things that we can change.Namely, preventing civilians from getting their hands on assault weapons; dismantling the lobbyist/campaign finance system that allows the NRA to keep legislators in a chokehold; donating to groups that are already fighting this fight, like Moms Demand Answers, and moving beyond thoughts and prayers to action and answers.
- •At some point, why they did it becomes less important than preventing others from making the same choice.That point should've been when elementary school children were killed. Or maybe when a congresswoman was shot in broad daylight. Or when a man entered into a Bible study, feigned fellowship, and then massacred those who welcome him. Or any of the hundreds of times each year that we face this issue in America.
- •This has to stop.How many vigils do we have to hold, how many tears do we have to cry, how many hashtags and protests have to happen before we say "no more"? I believe our generation can make sure the next doesn't encounter these issues. As the first step is to move away from the talk about "motive" and move toward practical steps to prevent this from happening again.