Protecting us from ourselves

Fred Cavaiani

We just experienced another massacre, this time in Oregon. Nine people were murdered by a young gunman. And so it continues. Schools, movie theatres, army bases, shopping malls; all can become occasions for mass killings. Some want better gun control. Others want no control. We can continue to quote and argue about the Second Amendment, which states: "A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." This was written in the second half of the 18th century. At that time there were no phones, no cell phones, no television, no internet, no iPads, no Kindles, no movies. News took days to reach people. Children did not grow up watching violent television programs from age two or three right on to adulthood. Young women and men grew to maturity by imitating their parents. It was a sign of maturity to own a gun and defend your family. Men grew up more thoughtful. Women grew up believing that they were inferior to men. (This was not good.) There was a clear distinction between right and wrong. What was applicable in the 18th century is not necessarily applicable in the 21st century. There was great impulse control and it was seen as a virtue to control your impulses. People respected authority. But because there was no television or daily news about what abuses such as slavery, bigotry, and prejudice were happening around the world, most people didn't realize all the evil that was happening.

Today our children play violent games. They grow up shooting people, destroying people and getting game points for doing this. Little boys or girls are shooting people on their iPods on a daily basis. Violence has become a game. Instant satisfaction feels like it is a necessity. Waiting for something or waiting for someone seems like an insult or a burden. We live in a culture of instant replay, instant satisfaction and whatever we want should be obtained as soon as possible. "As soon as possible" means now. Impulse control seems to be a virtue of the past.

Maybe we need to look deeper at our culture than only worrying about gun control. Are we creating a culture where controlling our impulses and instant gratification is totally out of control? Is our culture contributing to people acting out their resentments, inferiority complexes, and emotional wounds because we provide the climate and opportunity to do this? We create violent games. We create violent television programs. And of course this has to be allowed because it would be against free speech to prohibit this.

Is freedom of any type of speech the virtue that makes a good culture? Is the freedom to own any type of firearm a virtue? Is it really a necessity? Put guns and unresolved emotional conflicts, violent games and television programs in the same pot and what then will brew? We have seen the results.

Having better gun laws could help prevent massacres. But maybe we need to look deeper and see what mind protection laws we need to be put in place. How do we protect us from ourselves? There is no easy answer. There are a lot of theories right now. Yes, there are facts about how many people are killed in this country by guns: more than any other country in the world. But why does this happen? Easy access to guns is one reason. But there are many other reasons also.

For years I have watched emotional violence between political candidates being portrayed as political wisdom. For years political advertisements become absolute lies and misrepresentations. And no one seems upset by this. It is simply accepted as politics.

For years I have watched people who are supposed to represent God send other people to hell by their words and condemnations.

For years I have watched people treat each other disrespectfully and never apologize.

For years I have watched people hold grudges and not forgive each other.

For years I have watched hatred and bigotry toward another race, gender or sexual orientation become a reason for hateful words and actions.

But for years I have also watched people treat each other with kindness, love and patience.

For years I have watched people becoming open, kind and loving by their willingness to become quiet and listen to a God loving them and asking them to love others.

If only we could start putting into practice in our own lives a time for silence each day and a time to decide to be more kind and loving toward everyone. If only we could admit when we are becoming too busy to reflect and too preoccupied with ourselves to be kind and loving toward others.

Humility, honesty, reflection and compassion will solve most of the problems in life. Start doing it in your own part of the world. The answers will become clear to you. We will then protect ourselves from ourselves because the positive loving self will take over.

Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage counselor and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeast Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other week. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: and his website is

Published: Wed, Oct 07, 2015


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