“The more I gave meaning and intention to my life, confiding in Amalia, the more I started to actualize in my life. Perhaps the wise among us always know this. But depression, trauma, rape, ‘faulty definitions’ can etch out a bleak path for us, making us uncertain of our ability and deservedness. Our worth becomes tenuous in the face of shame. Doing inner work seems lofty, time-consuming, and unbearably slow. Doing inner work seems to take away from the struggles we commit ourselves to. But how can we really bear to give when we cannot bear ourselves?
During a bout of spring cleaning, I found an unopened envelope in my bedroom—a card for my twenty-ninth birthday. My father’s miniature scrawl: Live every moment of your precious life.
I’d come to fear doing so. But I am learning to reassemble myself, and remember how.”
Agreed D. re: different media (and beyond) narratives and points of emphasis for white male and non-white male shooters. But that’s not what the article (in the initial post) is primarily arguing in my reading.
It makes sense to say that a gendered and racialized response is a commonly important variable for this course of action/behavior, even for it appearing as an imagine-able option. (And, to a lesser degree, outward violent action at others in general.)
Depending on the specific circumstances of the shooting, maybe in other extreme shooting cases I would more readily link to the specific cause of “aggrieved entitlement” came into play, and for a white man in particular (e.g., a white male hedge funder loses his millions and kills everyone in sight). But my hunch is that “aggrieved entitlement” shows up more consistently as a motivating factor for “everyday” forms of violence and oppressive behavior (from passive aggressive potshots to killing) than in the cases of extreme shootings.
In any case, the specific use of this week’s events as a clear example of this rang pretty false to me. None of us know enough to say for sure. But to me an extremely isolated, potentially developmentally disabled, 20 year old kid born in 1992 does not point so easily to aggrieved entitlement and a related loss of power as a primary factor.
To be clear, I think the context of his white male-ness makes it more likely that he would choose the option he did, but that’s critically distinct from claiming he was motivated by the specific circumstance of aggrieved entitlement. I guess I take the non-essentialist view that the social clusterfucks associated with gender and race identification are potential priming factors, but not unequivocally primary causes. Hence my charge of opportunistic over-simplification.
Thanks for your note A. And I saw your note regarding the importance of these conversations. That’s something we definitely agree about. Way too invisible, and glad to be having them.
To answer your first question: I appreciate how you put it, but I don’t know what it would mean for me to “disagree” with the coercive methods Liza Long has resorted to. “Resorted to” is certainly the right phrasing, but no, I wouldn’t say “disagree”.
To me, that would mean that in a situation where my own efforts to compassionately triage a violently mad situation were failing to make a dent, that I would refuse to call in coercive intervention in an effort at self/other-preservation (given the lack of other interventions to call on). And that, instead, I would choose one of my other immediate options: (2) attacking the person (3) letting them attack me (4) fleeing and leaving the person alone to (4a) possibly attack/kill themselves or (4b) be harmfully reacted to by a stranger or (4c) possibly calm themselves down.
I do not envy anyone these options. Who wants to take the chance that any door other than 4c be the door that opens? I have been in a situation where I was all too aware that I may have to call this question (not to mention that “waiting out” these horrible options means staying in a traumatizing situation).
I “disagree” with all of them in the sense that I don’t wish them on anyone, including Liza Long’s hurting son and including Liza Long. Including me and including the person I was in the situation with. And everything you have shared about your own situation and story makes sense as well. And neither of us knows if this exactly articulates Ms. Long’s and her son’s particular situation.
It’s true that it’s all very personal — to a point. And the situations encompass meaningful differences, like whether the people are children or adults in a given circumstance. But we have a responsibility to think beyond personal experience to the wide spectrum of situations at play, including yours, mine, Liza Long’s, and so many others. And I think that is an important part of compassionate action, which I think “thegirlwhowasthursday” failed to display in her post.
I sit for now with a few more things also related to what you wrote:
1) The fact you point out that in most circumstances coercion generally tends to promote ostracizing and further violence does not to me mean that in a given situation someone must be willing to sacrifice themselves or others to avoid coercion in the absence of other options. That fact, however, does to me mean that someone should, if at all capable, compassionately do what they can to make alternative options actively available for when people need. Both in their personal communities and structurally for all.
2) Speaking of feminism, it’s important to me to make visible the fact that in the vast majority of these kinds of situations, women — whether as partners, parents, or adult children – are the people left/expected to absorb the brunt of these circumstances (and often violence) alone, in the absence of decent structural support. I do not shame individual women — for reaching out for the only options they can find, for the other person when they decide their own capacities/abilities/resources are spent, or for saving themselves. Myself included.
3) I do not think that everything different, deviant, or unusual is “ill”; much like certainly everything that’s normalized is not well. But I also think that some things labeled “ill” – be it a diagnosis or a hunch – are ill and cause great suffering in and of themselves, albeit compounded by other factors. Both for the person at the center of it and for the people close to them. And in terms of violent action, I will emphatically repeat the fact that people experiencing “mental illness” are much more likely to be a victim of violence than to perpetrate violence on someone else. But when it does occur, I do not expect loved ones and caretakers (usually women) dealing with disturbed violent situations to live out the double-bind current society puts them in by never reaching for coercive action.
I have been there with someone with a mentally disordered state that was scary, and where I felt there were too few people to turn to and nowhere else to turn unless I wanted the police to take over with police tactics, which I didn’t.
I have been through mental/emotional/circumstantial life challenges, where community and care and compassion have made all the difference in re-sourcing a way to ground to stand on. And where access to the most helpful structural support was blocked off by being available only to a luxury market.
This is not to say that the causes contributing to this week’s events or to similar situations are at all interchangeable with the situations I have been faced with. This is to say that these factors (along with weapons, along with a culture of violence as action, along with different individuals with different motivating and different personalities — yes, some people are more prone to just being terrible people; but I don’t think)
A solid majority of gun violence are suicides.
I don’t get why people conflate being an “adult” with being staid and boring. Being an adult rocks! Yeah, there’s pressure and stress involved, but ultimately, you’re the Mistress/Master of Your Own Destiny! That’s a great place to be. To me, being an adult means standing on your own two feet and taking responsibility for your life (this also means taking responsibility for your kids, if you have them). Obviously, tough times happen and lots of perfectly functioning adults needs a little help now and then, but in general, the day that you decide only you can be in charge of you (and then ACT upon that decision) is the day you become an adult.
To forego the possibility of feeling at home, or to make do with the surrogate of a dispersed cohort of fellow nomads is to give up the possibility of intimacy, of commitment, of trust. It is all that it takes to give up being human and become “human resources.” And once we do that to ourselves, it’s a short step to viewing everyone else as such.
Yet home need not always be a place. It can be a territory, a relationship, a craft, a way of expression. Home is an experience of belonging, a feeling of being whole and known, sometimes too close for comfort. It’s those attachments that liberate us more than they constrain. As the expression suggests, home is where we are from — the place where we begin to be.