When tragedy strikes, we tend to be left with more questions than answers. As we grieve, those initial questions lead us to search out who or what we can blame it on. We want an immediate, simple solution for often-complex situations.
Every publicized mass-shooting incident elicits the same rhetoric of gun control from the “left” and reactionary gun-rights protection from the “right.” We dig into the assailant’s social-media history to find out what he was interested in and inquire about his video-game usage.
We do everything possible to find the root cause of a broken man showing such disregard for life — yet we consistently overlook a significant contributing factor: fatherlessness.
So there is no misunderstanding: No matter how horrible your childhood was, it does not give you license to take the lives of innocent people. Like everyone else, I have no tolerance for such an act of evil.
At the same time, I recognize that people aren’t born murderers; they’re a creation of life experiences that lead them to decide to cross that line.
A child’s most important parental figure is the same-sex parent because children model themselves after them. For young men, having that father figure in their lives provides a blueprint for manhood and a source of protection from the outside world.
The world can at times be harsh for young men, but your father is supposed to be your source of security, a builder of confidence and a teacher for how to regulate your emotions in stressful situations. Most crucial, the father is the son’s purpose compass as he helps guide him throughout the trials of adolescence towards purposeful adulthood.
But what happens when there is no father in a child’s life? What happens to those boys when their compass is nowhere to be found? They all too often become lost boys and grow into lost men.
I know this feeling of being lost because I was that lost boy — I also grew up without my father in my life. I understand what it feels like to be confused about how to be a man, feeling like you’re not being advocated for and becoming depressed to the point of considering suicide.
What people misunderstand about mass shooters is that they are more suicidal than homicidal. To do something of this nature, you have to no longer care whether you live or die. The action of taking other people’s lives in the process of killing themselves is a way for them to grab attention on the way out because they’ve spent a significant portion of their lives feeling invisible.
Men with unregulated emotions and hopelessness and without a positive purpose are either a danger to themselves or others in any society. When they’re raised without proper instruction, we cannot be surprised when they choose chaos in the form of drugs like fentanyl or a gun as their instrument to express their dysfunction.
Since the Columbine school-shooting days, access to guns hasn’t changed much yet the rate of mass shootings has steadily increased. I believe it’s because there is a crisis among our young men who are growing up in homes where they are disconnected from their fathers either physically or emotionally.
This was the situation with Uvalde, Texas, shooter Salvador Ramos, who not only didn’t live with his father but hadn’t seen him since the pandemic’s start. The father and son hadn’t even been on speaking terms for the last month.
“My mom tells me he probably would have shot me too because he would always say I didn’t love him,” the father, who was also estranged from the shooter’s sister, told The Daily Beast.
About 25% of children in America are growing up in single-parent households — three times the rate in 1960 — the majority of whom lack daily interactions with their fathers (if any at all).
Their fathers aren’t there to protect them from professionals who want to shove drugs like Ritalin down their throat for being an active boy and not a docile girl. Their fathers aren’t there to talk them off the ledge of hopelessness with love and guide them towards prosperity.
As a father to a teenage boy, I see clearly how critical I am for the growth and stability of my son. Simultaneously, I see how so many other boys, who were just like myself, are in desperate need of a father’s guidance — yet we’ve reduced fatherhood to being about what we provide monetarily.
Our boys are being forgotten, and being treated as such creates chaos for us all.