Columbine, Sandy Hook. Charleston, Las Vegas, Virginia Tech. Now Sutherland, Texas. From schools to concerts and now Churches.
From the late 1990s till today there has been a rapid increase in mass shootings by people in the United States who seem to have no political angst apart from a personal gripe.
Of course we differentiate these from the violence perpetrated by terror groups, which have a political agenda for which these acts are meant to precipitate sone form of action.
These mass shootings are the sharpest extreme of deviance, which, plainly and simply, roughly defined as behavior that challenges the norm.
Plumbing this reality i am drawn to reread the groundbreaking sociological theories that aimed to tackle a phenomenon that rose sharply during Europes industrial revolution and was promptly studied by teo leading theorists: Emile Durkheim and Thomas Merton.
An academic journal writes:
“In one of the most famous articles in sociology, its first version written in the 1940s, Robert Merton begins by addressing biological explanations of deviance and concludes that biology cannot account for variations from one society to the next in the nature and extent of deviance.
Merton works within the overall functionalist perspective that we have already addressed, which puts a great deal of emphasis on the role of culture, particularly its unifying aspects, but now Merton adapts a concept he borrows from Durkheim to analyze situations in which culture creates deviance and disunity. In Durkheim’s usage, anomie referred to a situation in which cultural norms break down because of rapid change.
Anomic suicide, for example, can occur during a major economic depression, when people aren’t able to achieve the goals that they have learned to pursue, but it can also occur when the economy experiences a boom and suddenly the sky’s the limit–people don’t know how to limit their goals and be satisfied with their achievements.”
As we commiserate with the families of the victims of the shooting we wonder aloud: which of these conditions prevail in the current United States?
In my view it is clear: it is Durkheim’s reality of rapid economic and cultural change and people getting lost amid such tumult.
The lost anchor in onself amid this rapid change is exacerbated by the loss of income, posessions and even the lack of connectivity to families and friends that ought to provide emotional support.
Has the highly individualistic brand of liberal democracy negated such social bonds? Is every American a potential loner with a mind volcano waiting to explode?
Perhaps its time that the US government speak candidly to their people about the need to explore and strengthen these social relationships that gadgets, a new car and material posessions, even personal freedoms alone cannot bind strongly enough.
America must look inward, lest it collapses within itself.
Meanwhile, should it be wise for our government to issue its own advisory for those travelling to the United States? Often, it issues travel advosories against Mindanao over perceived threats. We perceive that the social volcano continues to spew ash and lava ot its own.
This being the case, America is a social volcano seething beneath the surface. Convulsed by the Trump election, ever in turmoil over his sagging trust ratings, worried about its future and that of the rest of the Western industrialized world.
Brexit happening and a Europe declining in numbers and wary of extremist immigrants add to the anxiety.
If our government does not want to, then let me say it: just please be careful when you go to the United States.In case of untoward incidents, cooperate with authorities and be a facebook friend to The Philippine embassy or have their contact details on your phone.