Some Gentle Words About Las Vegas

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Las Vegas was devastated yesterday by the largest mass shooting in modern US history.  The public is responding properly; calling for no politicians to express their regrets unless we begin to pass meaningful gun reform laws.

Of course the NRA lobby patrols around Congress like the Nine Ringwraiths, making sure everyone stays in line.  The NRA itself is given to grandiose hyperbole and corruption, and by their methods many know they are not to be trusted.

When asking myself how the NRA can be pried off of our legislative system, it’s necessary to ask if the NRA itself is a standalone actor or if it is in fact, part of a bigger context or ecosystem of actors.

This could be an organized ecosystem, like a conspiracy, or it could be a cultural context of enabling extreme ego sickness or what is called “narcissism” in the western psychology paradigm.  From my own healer’s perspective, this ego sickness is perpetuated by walling in one’s heart and the illusion of complete separation from others.  This makes it easy to commit atrocious acts.

The goal of this sickness – termed “Wasichu” in the Lakota language – is to experience domination and control over others.  There are paltry few other rewards to be had from that choice, and the negative side effects are legion.

The “defenders” of the Second Amendment love to repeat the phrase “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”.  And that is true.  On the other hand, we’ve seen that other countries trust their government enough to pass gun control laws (they’re not constantly in fear that they have to overthrow their government) and they have zero shootings of this kind, which seems like a desirable outcome.

What if the NRA itself as an organization, is merely a symptom of this pervasive culture of selfishness that we give permission to, every single day as we justify how this country works and we justify our own detachment from other living beings, be it our mate or pet or the coral reefs and polar bears?

There is another possibility, which is more in the conspiracy direction.  John Perkins describes the way that assassinations are carried out in modern day society; which is that someone who is already unhinged is recruited by someone posing as their friend, who preys on the cracks in their psyche.  Using manipulation, this unwell, generally friendless and isolated character is hyped up into a frenzy where they will assassinate the target as a matter of course, when they have the opportunity to do so.  You can see that this second, conspiracy theory context actually depends upon the presence of the first, cultural context in order to function.

I do want to point out that all narcissists maintain control over subordinates by a system of non-correlating rewards or punishments.  From a dog training blog written by Tim Frawley, M.A. Psychology;

Variable Schedules of reinforcement are the ultimate goal of any intervention.  Like the Fixed Schedules, they come in both Ratio and Interval form.  A Variable Ratio Schedule of 3:1 means that on the average the person is reinforced for every 3 demonstrations of the target behavior. Reinforcements are administered on an apparently random basis, as far as the individual is concerned. Variable Schedules produce the highest rates of responding and the most resistance to extinction of any of the Reinforcement Schedules. Examples of the Variable Schedules are Lotteries (Ratio) and hunting or fishing (Interval). Most of us have most of our social behaviors reinforced on a Variable Schedule (Think of how often you are complimented!).  It can be said that these Schedules induce a kind of paranoia in the individual, who never knows when the next reinforcement is coming. The reality is that the Schedule has to be carefully set in advance in order to ensure that enough reinforcement comes often enough to avoid a phenomena called Ratio Strain. This happens when the Schedule of Reinforcement is set too high and the individual “gives up” before the next reinforcement becomes available. An example of this would be the person who has been paid every two weeks, whose employer decides that pay checks will only be issued once a year.  For most people, this would constitute Ratio Strain. On the other hand, if the employer gradually moved toward a “once a year” pay schedule, most people would be able to adapt.  Moving through CRF, Fixed, and Variable Schedules in a gradual manner, based on the individual’s abilities serves to reduce the likelihood of Ratio Strain.

Translated into plain language, this means that randomly distributed punishments or rewards can create paranoia, where people spend a lot of time and energy wondering where the next blow is coming from, and it also is used to train the subject to obey more submissively, since they don’t have any control over the situation.

My request to anyone reading this, is to please resist being conditioned by these events.  My own practice is to remain open hearted and connected to our human family and our living planet.  Neil Young says only love can break your heart.  We’re all in this together.  Stay open, stay loving, and we’ll get there.

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