Each time I read about one of these events I think, “There but for the grace of God go I”. Even as my loved ones say I’m not like that, and the Professionals say “You don’t have the temperament” I know that is not true. The me of the past was a prime “creepy white guy”, with all the entitlement, rage, and relationship issues common to these mass shootings. And yes I do mean a creepy white guy, one of the tribe you might call the fedora bearers, or neckbeards, because somehow we breed most of this violence. I don’t know why, but I do know that the adjacent tribes of geeks, nerds, makers and hackers on are in a unique place to do some good here.
Everyone who’s on about gun control, mental health, or whatever pet issue you’ve brought up in the wake of the recent tragic shooting. Would you kindly stop arguing online and instead go help a creepy white guy. Do this every week, and you’ll have done more to end these mass shootings than almost any other action you could take. I know, because I got that help and now I’m here twitchy, and slinging code instead of there on the front page seeking some kind of glory or recognition.
The me of a decade ago or even just a few years ago, had ample soil for this seed. My heart has been broken, I spent a decade in the wilderness of the “girlfriend zone” where I subjected women, who would have otherwise become dear friends, to desperate neediness. The exact complaints the recent shooter made of college women. After a bitter divorce I entertained fantasies of a mass shooting, both as the actor, and as a bystander. A commonly found motivation in gun violence across the nation. But none of these grew to become the poison intent to harm my fellow citizens.
Instead I had a social network. A fabric of people who accepted me, as I am, and never isolated me while expecting better of me. My community never allowed that seed of bitterness and hate to find soil within me. More people than I could name have reached out and helped me. Explained why what I was doing needed to change, and helped provide the accountability to make that change.
I quite literally owe my life, my career, and my relationship to those people. The friend who explained why my attention lavishing was creepy. The fellow gamer who repeatedly called me out for staring at her chest, and then still was there when I was unsure where rent was coming from to make sure I had food and shelter. This list is endless, and every week it grows. I hope this list is always growing.
If you care about gun violence, then take a moment and practice empathy and grace to your fellow humans.