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Life, and Death, in a Corporatocracy
Another day, another mass shooting in America. The reaction is rote by now. Media will be featuring heart-rending stories about the people killed and the shattered lives of loved ones left behind. The shooter’s motives and methods will be examined. There will be endless discussions about gun laws, public safety, and mental illness.
Surely, any person who shoots up little children is mentally ill. However, the deeper illness is societal; it is the insanity of the American corporatocracy. We have a culture in which we put short-term corporate profits ahead of the safety and well-being of people and planet. Congress is dripping in blood money contributed by the NRA, and despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of Americans support gun reforms, elected officials continuously refuse to act. We literally sacrifice our children to the gun lobby. We trash our waters and lands and shell out subsidies to the fossil fuel industry while Big Oil makes record profits from spiking gas prices. The corporatocracy has resulted in a massive chasm between the wealthy and the poor and millions of people are left feeling like there is no way to succeed economically. Such a system breeds individual stress and despair, which contribute to acts of insanity.
Greed is a mental health issue. An unwillingness to change from a self-destructive course is a mental health issue. Choosing to perpetuate a sociopathic economic system is a collective mental health issue.
My heart aches for the children, teachers, school staff, families, first responders, and community in Uvalde, Texas, and for the communities still reeling from previous mass shootings, including the White Supremacist slaughter in Buffalo ten days ago, who are reliving trauma in the wake of this most recent atrocity.
My heart also aches for all of us who feel the weight of illness in our society. The end of an age is often tumultuous and difficult. Old norms and structures resist being replaced. New forms are not yet fully birthed. That’s where we are, the end of an age in which the norms of separation, greed, and corporate power seemed the way to go. It’s now so clear that it isn’t.
The response to mass shootings always boils down to arguing about gun rights and restrictions. There is no question America is awash in guns, with approximately 400 million guns for a population of 332 million people. And certainly, it makes sense to keep military assault type weapons out of the hands of teenagers and out of our public spaces. However, just getting rid of guns, even if it were possible, wouldn’t heal our societal illness. Politicians from both parties claim they are fighting for the soul of America but healing the soul of our nation is about far more than choosing which aspect of the corporatocracy to side with. Healing our soul-sickness will require honestly facing the flaws in the American experiment including our history of colonization and brutality, the destructive amount of money in electoral politics, and our willingness to cede power and governance to corporations and industries that care only about maximizing short-term profits.
Welcome to life, and death, in the American corporatocracy. I do believe sanity and love will prevail because we are now in a revolution of awareness that things cannot go on the way they have been. But how long it takes for us to get there, and how much suffering will have to occur first, is an open question. What we need is not the death of more of our children, but the death of a system that sacrifices them so easily. Which will we choose? And when? My heart aches. I know I am not alone.