On August 3 and August 4, in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio respectively, twin mass shootings took place. Thirty-one people died, and scores of others injured. Although the news narrative is moving on to the next big headline, this tragedy has stayed with me. Others and I have asked, “Why did this happen - again?"
When the twenty first grade children and six staff members were killed in Newton, Connecticut on December 14, 2012, most of the people I know were convinced that such a heartbreaking experience would lead to swift action to limit access, if not an outright ban for civilians to purchase weapons of war. However, this has not been the case.
On the evening of June 17, 2015, during a prayer service at a South Carolina church, a gunman killed nine of the community members, including its Senior Pastor. Again, despite a public outcry, not much has changed with gun laws to prevent such tragedies from occurring again. Then on February 14, 2018, Valentine’s Day, in Parkland, Florida, a gunman with an automatic rifle killed seventeen high school students and school personnel.
After the massive “March for our Lives” rally in Washington, D.C. the following month, nominal legislative changes were made. The changes made were not nearly to the scale needed to match the level of the destruction of these tragedies. These few events don’t even cover the other massive shootings that took place before and during that seven-year period.
Nearly 70% of Americans support laws that would limit civilian access to assault-style weapons. No doubt, one can make a case to pass laws that limit civilian access to weapons intended for war. Since the El Paso and Dayton killings, citizens have been pressuring politicians to take action to pass gun safety legislation. Whether that proves to be successful is yet to be determined. However, even if there is a success in the legislative area (which is important), it will address a symptom and not one of the root causes of such tragedies. That root cause is sociopathic economics. Sociopathic economics can be described as when the pursuit of profit is completely devoid of compassion and spiritual values; it is when the bottom line disregards the common good. This is not just limited to gun manufacturers and their lobbyists influencing politicians to keep in place the current laws that enable the corporations to make as much profit as possible from the sale of war weapons to civilians. Weapons that far too often end up in the hands of people who commit mass murder.
If we look at the opioid epidemic that has a death grip on many regions of the United States, we will discover that pharmaceutical companies for years used dubious and aggressive tactics to get physicians to prescribe more and more addictive painkillers. Many of the executives of these companies have been aware these drugs were and are being diverted to the black market and flooding the streets of American communities. Despite this awareness, they looked the other way to fuel a $13 billion a year opioid industry.
It wasn’t always the case that businesses were devoid of compassion and lack of concern for the common good. Businesses initially made service their foundational principle with the by-product of earning a profit. Many businesses today have the support of the common good, an inherent part of their mission. However, if that principle is to reign supreme in America and our world, there must be a revolutionary return to spiritual values. When that happens, the common good will no longer be relegated as secondary to profit for profit sake. In fact, it is necessary for there to be an infusion of spiritual principles in all aspects of our society, including politics. And we’re not talking about religious doctrine or dogma, rather to universal laws.
Toward that end, spiritual life does not give us an excuse to stand outside politics. There comes a time where we must practice functional spirituality. Where we take the deeper knowing that we will have to help not only be in the world but also be a discerning participant in its unfoldment. When we infuse spiritual consciousness into every fabric of our world, including the corporate and political arenas, we will transform those sociopathic economic leanings into energies of compassion. When that happens, we will get to some of the root causes of mass shootings, opioid addictions, and practices that harm the climate.
Sociopathic economics will diminish. As that takes place, we will see and live in a society and world that reflects our true nature as compassionate spiritual beings. We will express who we are at our highest and best.
Peace and Blessings,