Yesterday’s Navy Yard shootings in DC have left 13 dead, including the gunman, Aaron Alexis (who, it should be noted, is being reported to have been a “devout” and otherwise “peaceful” Buddhist who had a history of alcohol abuse and anger management issues including a previous gun-related episode that was said to take place during an “anger-fueled ‘blackout.’”) Alexis’s motives are still very much in question.
This kind of violence, whatever the motive, has of course become all too commonplace. As a HuffPost piece titled “We’ve Had So Many Mass Shootings In The U.S., We’ve Had To Redefine The Term” reminds us, “there have been six mass shootings over the past nine months — and at least 20 during Obama’s presidency.” One particularly trenchant comment originated from Dr. Janis Orlowski, MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s chief medical officer, during a post-shooting press briefing:
“There’s something wrong here when we have these multiple shootings… I would like you to put my trauma center out of business. I really would. I would like to not be an expert on gunshots. Let’s get rid of this. This is not America.”
How can we “get rid of this”? That is, of course, a huge question, so it’s worth considering all our options. Teacher and guest blogger Russell Evans, in a SunSpace piece from earlier in the year, posited that loving-kindness meditation could be a help in combating school violence. And many meditation practitioners do, of course, find that the practice helps them to work with anger and other difficult emotions in their own lives.
How do you work with anger and difficult emotions? What do you believe meditation and Buddhist practice have to offer us as we work for a more peaceful society?
See also (links open in new windows): Thich Nhat Hanh: “There is no path to peace. The path is peace.” : “The Interrupters: Talking Down Violence” | “Making peace in America’s Cities” | “Listening Deeply for Peace” | “A Peaceful World Begins with Small Peaceful Actions”
(Update) Also notable today:
Justin Whitaker’s Patheos piece on Alexis, Buddhism, and violence (about whose title our editor-in-chief Melvin McLeod has commented on in a new blogpost.)
“Reactions to the Navy Yard Shooting and Aaron Alexis’ Buddhist background” (Religion News Service)