Humility helps rebuild society

Katherine Mustar, Staff Writer

It has become a normal thing in our society to hear about acts of gun violence, whether it being police violence, mass shootings or a gun crime that has been committed. Because of this, the obvious question is what can we do to make these events less common. Restricting access to guns can only do so much, especially when the root of the problems with any type of violence lies in the psychology of the human brain.

To fix the issue of gun violence, or any other injustice, we need to solve the world’s problem with humility and compassion toward each other first.

One possible reason why people are able to cause violence toward others is because they ostracize them, seeing people as different from them, or as “the others.” This ability to disconnect from others allows a person to be comfortable with committing acts of violence toward people, and can be seen throughout the decades in acts of racism, gender inequality, social class inequality, religious hate and countless others.

This psychological phenomenon of mistrust is spread throughout society, creating groups that see anyone that doesn’t “fit in” with them as untrustworthy, and sometimes even a threat.

In times where our connection with each other is strained, like during the lockdown of COVID-19, this separation becomes more evident. The United Way of the National Capital Area did a survey to see how empathy changed during the events of COVID-19 and “overall, the empathy ratings of respondents decreased by 14% during the pandemic.” (Surveying Americans on Empathy Burnout).

Though “empathy burnout” won’t immediately lead to violence, it is still a large problem that adds to mistrust. When you mix a society going into hysteria over fear of a virus with people’s mistrust and lack of compassion for others, you create a situation where people stop seeing each other as companions and as a threat. This leads people to go to different means to protect themselves, which means buying guns.

A group of associates from Injury Epidemiology did a study on how COVID-19 affected gun purchases and violence, finding that “nationwide, firearm purchasing and firearm violence increased substantially during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic.” About 4.3 million more firearms were purchased in the U.S. from March to July, exceeding what was usually recorded during past years. There was also a 4,075 increase in firearm injuries than what was predicted for April to July.

Our society has become one that lacks for others, being evident in the way that we come together to help each other through the pandemic, society turned to mass hysteria, mistrust and paranoia. Despite the fear of our past, the disconnect of our society is worse. Ostracization lives strong and to change, we need to learn humility and compassion for each other again.