A Man Walks Into A Bar…..

And shoots everyone…. What seems like an intro to a classic joke turns out to be a tragic outcome. It could be a bar, a church or a super market. The most sanguine of locations sets the stage for slaughter. Once a rarity, it is now an all too common part  of our lives. 

People say how sad and move on. Adaption or aquiescence? Maybe if I ignore it, the aberration will just go away. We fail to dig down and find out what is causing this in some madman. Is that capacity for hate and anger endemic to all of us or just the few? 

At birth we have the capacity for both aggression and empathy. We are imbued with a sense of survival but also a desire for connection. We are by nature social animals. We want to love and be loved.The outcome of good or evil is a learned trait. 

 It is great to be part of a group, a town, a state, country and of course a fan of our favorite team. It is ignominy to be an outsider. If someone moves into our neighborhood we are welcoming but wary. Are they going to be one of “our kind” of people or are they going to try to turn my wonderful little life upside down? I get defensive and maybe angry. I could even hate that person if it goes far enough. 

Let’s start with that getting pissed off thing. Psychologists will tell you rage is caused by an event, a feeling you are not valued or the grandaddy of them all, injustice. Somebody cuts you off in traffic and you flip them the bird. What might have been simple faux pas gets to the point of road rage. 

Overlooked as inconsequential or shunned by your peers you are hurt to the core. Your Rodney Dangerfield moment where you don’t get no respect. What am I chopped liver? Some are hurtful and some are downright nasty in their putdowns. It’s what we do as we revel in “gotcha” moments. 

The cause of the day, year or decade is injustice. No matter how hard to you try to be reasonable you are convinced you have been screwed. It could be your status in life, your position in the company or just a series of failures that you blame on anyone else but your self. Some right. Some wrong. 

I get nailed for a drug charge and get sent away for forty years. A rich kid with a great lawyer pleads it down to a misdemeanor. Better yet I am arrested for trafficking when my customer was a rich kid from the burbs in his BMW. Does that sound just to you?

The world is against me because I am black, gay, muslim, Jewish handicapped etc. Many of these are not imaginative but real. Racism, sexism, ageism are there no matter how hard we deny it. I hate to tell you but the world is not fair. The bigger question is should it be?

Now I am a white male in a golf community with decent resources. I can opine on how hard work got me here but I would be stretching things a tad. A member of the “Lucky Sperm” club? You bet. A stable home life to grow up in? Check. Good schools? Yes. Good student? Maybe. 

Yes,I did have to have my wits about me and fend for myself on more than one occasion. Did I take chances? Of course. And yes it could have gone horribly wrong. Did unfair things happen to me? Sure. But people weren’t shooting up my neighborhood all night long? Was my father a drunk who came home and beat the crap out of my mother and siblings? Thank God that’s a no. .

My point is this. Don’t say you have experienced all of the above unless you have. I feel your pain is a bit theatrical. Have you really walked hundreds of miles to a border with your wife and three kids so as not to get killed or raped in your own hometown? Until you have been totally destitute, don’t be so quick to judge and dismiss.

But as in almost any disagreement, this is really a fine edge to be defined. There are two sides to the immigration story. Ditto racism et al. The needle bounces all over the place trying to find true north. And herein lies why we can’t make any progress. 

We are a highly competitive nation. We like to win. As a country, an athlete, a parent or a person. The opposite of competition is cooperation. But If I cooperate today I am seen as weak and yielding. You can’t compromise your position. Do not yield the high ground. Stick to your guns and sadly we have taken that literally. This can only go so far. 

The last time we had any cooperation across all party lines was 9/11. We were one and we were even one with most of the world. We shared and hugged and cried as one. We were partners. A friend told me one time that partnerships were wonderful until one side or the other feels they are being screwed. We got back to looking out for ourselves and the romance was over. 

We are at juncture and I don’t see the way out. Whether it is the US vs China or Russia or whites vs blacks or liberals vs conservative we have lain down the gauntlet. People are angry. People are disgusted. Empathy for the other side is a hard to find commodity. 

It will probably take something pretty bad once again to make us come together and collaborate. It might be global warming. When things get so desperate there is no other way whatsoever. It might be mass killings on such a scale that even the coldest soul has to take heed. I just hope and pray the guy walks into the bar and the joke is not on us. 

As always

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

We concentrate on mass shootings and mental illness. It is shown however that of the 120,000 deaths due to guns only 7-8% are directly related to mental illness. It is somewhat bizarre that we concentrate on mass shootings that total of several hundred victims in a year but do not even consider the other thousands that don’t make the news. 

In fact over 80% of shooting deaths are committed by persons who have many of the problems that nearly everyone has to manage at some point in life: anger, isolation, depressive moods, resentments, jealousy.

Anger is a condition in all of us. It can create heartburn or be a motivating force. It can cause us to wallow in self pity or provide impetus to do better. It is many times valid. How we tame or control it is another question.

Self esteem is a personal estimate of one’s worth. China does not like its position in the world. It is hell bent on being number one to make up for the Century of Disgrace. If one is confident of their self esteem they are more open to new ideas and contrary thinking. If they are worried about their image they will do everything possible to protect their point of view. 

One thought on “A Man Walks Into A Bar…..

  1. Very thoughtful. The gun thing is a terrible dilemma. We have over 400,000,000!!!!! guns in the US. The ones we know about. They killed more than 29,000 folks last year or the year before. Murder rates are up in all center cities dramatically. What to do. I sure don’t know the answer. Taking guns from hunters won’t solve it. Then bad guys will always find/have guns. Defunding the cops won’t solve it. Shit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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