This week birthed another turbulent series of events, with yet another shooting, this time at LAX. The LAX shooting heralds the first time a TSA officer has ever been killed at an airport or even in the line of duty. This comes as the wonderful festival of light, Diwali begins in India and around the world and as people start to prepare for Thanks giving (and black friday). At a time when people are getting ready to be thankful and bless creation (Diwali) how can so many others be looking into the dark? How can there be so much celebration of light and dark at the same time? This dance of the yin and yang is part of the journey of life. It is a necessity and is an inevitable as the cycle of birth and death. I talked briefly about this with relation to yesterday’s World Vegan Day.
Back to the LAX shooting. The shooter was 23 year old Paul Ciancia, disillusioned with life and systems of control. He was bullied at his Catholic school and recently lost his mother to a long illness. Clearly there’s something wrong with a system that causes such anger and rage in people and allows said people to acquire lethal weapons. Pair that with the lack of desire to continue living and you have a recipe for a sensationislsed ‘going out with a bang’ that I’m sure Ciancia planned when he thought up the LAX shooting idea.
On Monday he approached a security checkpoint with a semi-automatic rifle and killed one NSA agent dead. In a note later found he said he was a ‘pissed off patriot’. An interesting idea that has often been claimed by those who want to attack the current system. They think they’re in the right, well doesn’t everyone think they’re right?
From initial reports Ciancia seemed relatively calm as he proceeded to try and identify TSA agents. One man Leon Saryan, 65, fled to the other side of the security check point. As he was cowering the corner, Ciancia approached. Saryan said “He looked at me and asked, `TSA?’ I shook my head no, and he continued on down toward the gate. He had his gun at the ready and but for the grace of God I am here to tell about it,”. So he was quite calm and collective, for a shooter. He wasn’t just shooting randomly around LAX, he was targeting and calmly executing a plan.
This immediately rings bells in my head in comparison to all the other shootings over recent years, mainly in the States, but all over the world. Something that strikes a cord is, weather in the LAX shooting or another shooting, the shooters often seem to be relatively calm and collective. Not at all how you would imagine. You would think that if you’re planning to take a semi-automatic rifle into LAX and shoot TSA agents you might be a little worked up, even frantic. You would also imagine that anyone planning a shooting would be. There is something many of these shooters have in common and it’s not some fanatical belief in a religion or a cause. What most of them share is they were on some form of Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor (SRI) or other form of anti depression drug. You could say, well of course they were all crazy and depressed to do something like that. Right, I’m not saying the anti depressants caused the event, like the LAX shooting. I’m saying it’s curious as one of the side effects of the drugs is emotional withdrawal, and you would imagine you would have to be pretty withdrawn to kill someone in a cold dispassionate way. We’re not talking rambo style, we’re talking robotic like.
Of course that’s what they’re designed to do, withdraw you from the reality of your emotions, numb your pain. I’m very curious to see if the LAX shooter was also on some prescribed medication. For a comprehensive list of those shooters who were on some form of anti-depressant see here
My point being, we’ve based our medicine upon the suppression of symptoms rather than the treatment of the route cause. Not only that, but the side effect seems to numb natural emotional repulsion at killing. Reports from all over the world tell the same story of complete calmness in the shooters. ‘They didn’t even break a sweat, like they were playing a computer game’. Reality ceased to be something emotionally salient to them. We can say ‘they’re just freaks’ and were always going to kill. Yes we could say this but did we help them explore through their repressed emotions or did we just simply add to the issue, aiding them in holding back emotional trauma for simple symptom reduction. Which ultimately lead to them feeling confused and oppressed, needing to lash out at authority figures, like at LAX?
Over the last few days I’ve been speaking with a friend who recently broke up with her boyfriend. This guy was awful to her, both while they were together and when they broke up. By all accounts she should be over the moon she is now free. However, she feels such rejection that she has swallowed the pain and turns away at any mention of the boy, not able to face the pain of the emotions. She’s even thinking about going to the doctors to get something to help her. Is this the natural state of affairs, to immediately go for the suppression of the symptoms. How will it help? She needs to embrace the pain, feel her way through it. The only way through an emotion is through the emotion. Keep breathing and it shall pass. It’s about being present and that happens when you breathe. What you resist – persists. Holding onto it becasue it hurts too much to feel it will NOT process it, it will maintain it.
We live in a global community where it is considered weak to feel emotions, that one should do the British ‘stiff upper lip’ and just plow onwards. This sort of disregard is what led to the LAX shooting and other across the world shootings. Just because it was at LAX airport makes no difference to anything. This, clearly disturbed, boy of 23 probably had no method of communication. I’m not justifying him in any way. I’m simply saying that if we based our medicine, our (obamacare) medical system upon the prevention of illness through acceptance rather than symptom rejection, then perhaps we wouldn’t have so many senseless killings like at LAX earlier this week.
A time has come for a revolution in the way we manage the mentally ill, or the potentially mentally ill as well as those physically ill. We must look to a new way of dealing with things. Much like Russell Brand calling for a new way of doing politics, we too must move into a new compassion and acceptance to prevent repeating LAX shooting type incidents.
It’s never about suppression or rejection of what is being felt because we label it as ‘bad’. It’s about feeling what you feel and being able to express it. We can provide the space and the consciousness for people to not feel as if they must reject themselves and thus react out of anger, pain and grief to hurt and blame others. This is the giving away of power, a kind of victim mentality that leads people to lash out. This shooter had sent numerous text messages to family in the days and weeks before the LAX shooting claiming he was at the end of his tether, that he was going to commit suicide. Why didn’t the family feel able to help? Perhaps with more training in schools of mindfulness based awareness of one’s own emotions and accepting others we might birth a more evolved society that feels able to act in a preventative manner, helping lost potential LAX shooters feel heard and thus let go of the idea of taking a semi-automatic rifle into one of the one places they know they will get shot for doing so.
Time to #evolve