In high school, a friend of mine wrote a compelling essay, at least for a 17-year-old, about how young men are born to die.
In it he explained that young men have an urge to save people using violence. It’s what drives us to war to fight for our country. It’s what motivates us to become cops and firefighters. This resonated with me, because going to high school less than a decade after Columbine, I often had fantasies.
I would find myself daydreaming in class about what I would do in a mass-shooting situation. I really did believe that I had the courage to find the assailant, to disarm him and to incapacitate him. I’d be a hero.
When put in the context of pop-culture, we’re taught that you’re either a savior or a criminal. As Batman nemesis Harvey Dent said:
Now that I’m a little older, I see how this line of thinking can be naive. But I would be lying if I didn’t say I still don’t have those fantasies. Often I’ll picture myself out at a bar and some ruffian has tried to pick a fight with someone in my group. I think about things I could say to defuse the situation while still demeaning this hooligan to establish my alpha male dominance.
If things were to escalate, I think about how I would defend myself with my fists.
Testosterone is a hell of a thing.
The majority of mass-shooting suspects are men. Of all the major shootings that have been covered by the mass media, I can’t think of a single criminal who’s a woman. I’m not saying women aren’t capable of being violent or they don’t think about being a savior, but the narrative is that there’s something wrong with young men. I have to agree.
I’m not a Michael Moore fan, but in his documentary Bowling for Columbine, he asks Marilyn Manson what he would say to the two shooters.
If we’re going to address the problem of mass shootings, we have to acknowledge that young men are more predisposed to violence than women. It’s not a bad predisposition, though. It’s how we’ve won wars and protected our families for generations. If you go far enough back, it’s how we became the dominant species on this planet.
My father said:
“if mankind invents something, man will find a way to weaponize it.”
Mass shooters, serial killers, and anyone who uses violence unnecessarily is mentally ill. The short-term solution is taking guns away from them. The long term solution is teaching them when to use violence.
I want to live in a world where everyone has a gun and no one has a reason to shoot each other. This may seem idealistic, but it’s far more realistic than not addressing the problem young men face today. They still think they’re born to die.