There’s a trait many alcoholics have in common. When the drinking gets out of hand, begins to impact our jobs, our relationships, our circumstances, we don’t change our drinking. We change our circumstances.
This feels a lot like the mindset of pro-gun people who want to arm teachers.
Many recovering alcoholics have stories about taking bad jobs that gave them the space to drink, about cutting off friends who gave them a hard time about drinking, even moving out of places where they couldn’t drink as freely as they liked. They didn’t recognize the real problem – their drinking – and instead blamed all their unhappiness on the things that got in the way of their drinking.
Today pro-gun people have taken this kind of behavior to the next level. Rather than recognize that the problem is guns they look around at what circumstances they can change in order to hold on to their guns. Rather than acknowledge the clear and obvious issue, they’re blaming everything else.
I came to this realization after reading a tweet from Parkland hero Emma Gonzalez:
“Friendly reminder that the argument to Protect Schools completely ignores Churches, Malls, Concerts, etc. that have also been host to mass shootings – we can’t build our world out of Kevlar, just remove the guns that cause the most carnage it’s so Simple”
She’s right. The instinct to ‘harden’ each of these environments (once schools are ‘hardened’ then malls will follow, and then churches, etc) is an instinct borne out of unwillingness to acknowledge reality. It’s alcoholic thinking, on a grand scale.
I believe that my alcoholic thinking is part of a larger mental and spiritual illness that latches on to intoxicants. But it doesn’t have to be booze or drugs or sex… it can be guns. It can be Twitter or it can be video games. It can be anything that gives me a chemical shot of some sort, in these cases an endorphin rush that makes me feel okay for a second, connected or loved. In the case of guns it’s an endorphin rush that makes you feel powerful, important (I have shot automatic weapons and it is an incredible experience). It’s all about seeking to fill a hole inside ourselves with something external.
This gives me more compassion for the pro-gun side of the debate, but it’s the kind of clear-eyed compassion that you have to have when dealing with an addict or an alcoholic in a bad state. It’s the compassion that tells you sometimes you have to be tough in order to help the other person, that enabling them doesn’t make things any better. I look around at how people are still responding to Parkland and I feel good, because it seems like many of us are really, finally, truly, getting tough with our sick brothers and sisters. And it’s for their own good.