Individuality or Community?

Can we nourish our individuality and still honor the interests of the greater good of a community, a nation, or the world? 

This appears to be a valid question when mass destruction perpetrated by the hands of a single tormented individual seeking relief has left a moral impact and emotional void on the psyche of a community, a nation, and the world!

The question appears to be simple!  Do we value Life over Rights or Rights over Life?  Has a new practical morality of self-interest and personal rights begun to supercede our idealistic preference for an altruistic morality? Have we entered a space and time where balancing the principals of self and others is no longer possible? Like overeating, have we indulged ourselves to the point of numbing our senses to the consequential results of our actions?

Many are looking for answers to the WHYS of mass shootings. Yet, according to “A Guide to Mass Shootings in America”, there have been at least 62 mass killings since 1982. The Connecticut mass shooting was the fourth since the mass murders at a movie theater in Colorado on July 20th. It’s as if we have been in a numbing stupor from which we are just awakening.

And, according to the same article, seventy-five percent of all the mass murders were committed with legal guns. Gun control and weapons of mass destruction are a subject for another time. Suffice it to say that weapons of mass destruction do not seem to have a place in a civil society where life is viewed as the most cherished commodity.

The Connecticut shooting was a jaw-dropping shock because it hit a pristine community and had no regard for the age of its victims. Just as the diabolical act of 9/11 shocked an unexpecting world, the Connecticut shooting appears to have shocked people out of their delusion of separateness. Healing cannot happen in isolation. It can only occur when the numbing aloofness of fierce individualism and independence begins to thaw and meld into a collective embrace.

When was the last time you hugged someone? And, I am not counting a child or your pet! This brings me to a subject of which I know a little – Mental Health. In a world where standing on your own and fierce independence are valued, where failures are often viewed as personal flaws, how can an individual or family reach out for help? The stigma of mental illness is real. And, the path to successful outcomes is rare. Our prisons are full of the failures of the Mental Health Industry. Ironically, one of the few resources for parents of mentally ill children is the judicial system.

Although this is not a pretty read, I am giving you this link to a plea by a mother of a mentally ill teenager. It is also shocking! ( It is entitled ‘I am Adam Lanza’s Mother”. Who has been there to embrace this single mother and her family?

We tend to hide the messy things in life. We build fenses around them in an effort to buffer ourselves from their inconvenient reality. But, people shouldn’t be inconveniences. Eventually, our messes spill over like weeds. We can only hide away the untreated or untreatable, the undesireable and ignored in jails, communities, and state facilities for so long. Our prisons are so overcrowded that prisoners are being released prior to their sentences. State funding is being cut right and left. Our disenfranchised communities need a voice and a collective resolution to improve their opportunities. They don’t need a proverbial fence.

After you’ve read this blog and the article noted, I would like to ask you to find someone in your community that appears to need a hug or a kind word. Thaw a little and give a hug a chance! You might be glad you did! We all have the right to be considered important. And, no individual right, whether it is to carry arms or build a fence, should interfer with the basic right to life. And, life cannot be lived in isolation.

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