I take too long to respond to stuff – too long at least to enter the Op-Ed space. I feel like my thoughts come to me in these waves, that I have to wait for each wave to go back out so I can see what things are left on the beach.
So many other people have written about the shooter’s connection to MRA and PUA so I won’t dwell on that. I’ll just say that I’m glad this is a small minority of truly sad guys. And fuck them.
There’s a lot to dissect in this act – violence, guns, gender, race, privilege. But what I’m going to talk about is loneliness. And hurt. And hopelessness. And a mental health system that falls back on methods that clearly aren’t working for everyone.
A few facts:
For white males, suicide is the second highest cause of death from age 15 all the way to 35. And the third leading cause of death in the surrounding ages. So, suicide is top three for white dudes from 10-45.
The rates are basically the same for Asian guys. The shooter was half Asian and White.
My son. My three year old is half Asian and White. And the thing that I’m working hardest on is instilling in him an idea that emotions are safe. That it’s okay to be angry. To be sad. To be scared. That these things exist within us, and that they move through and they don’t kill us.
These are not the messages I got as a kid. I love my father very much but growing up he couldn’t handle emotions. He asked me to go outside, sit on the porch if I was crying or upset. The only real option was happiness. Or – just complacency.
So how do we support a world where everyone, boys and men especially are not just encouraged but actually compelled to be emotional creatures?
I don’t think it’s that we need to create systems. Rather, we need to tear down systems that aren’t working. There are people everyday that are clearly in pain. But we are able to walk right by them. They might be in our friends group – or just on our block. The thing is that people in pain aren’t in one specific demographic – white/black, woman/man, mentally ill/healthy. It’s all of us. Ignoring them won’t make them go away.
There’s this kind of Asian way of dealing with emotional pain that not a lot of people know about. The format is this:
Person 1: This is happening to me.
Person 2: Oh.
Person 1 and Person 2 sit together in silence basically until Person 1 gets up and does something else.
It might seem at first glance that this is just a way to ignore problems. Really what these two people are doing is sitting together through an emotion. It’s a shared physical response rather than a verbal one. There’s no solving of the problem. No active listening. It’s just – experiencing. And what I love about this way of experiencing emotions is that we’re not requiring people to learn an emotional language they might not have learned as a kid. There’s also no way to bullshit your way through it with empty words.
We’re all losers. We all deal with rejection and hopelessness. We’re all in pain. We have no choice but to learn from each other and to empathize. To live with each other and experience the world together. We don’t just save the lives of people who might kill themselves or each other, we preserve the very thing that makes us human – the emotional response.