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While well intentioned people wring their hands and ask why, the questions are not directed to the source of the issue of mass killings that exclude such obvious answers as Islamic fanatics who shout they speak for Allah. All mass killings have a common source and that source is the content inside of the head of the killer.

Many people today and in the past equate thinking with how they feel. This equation of not drawing a distinction between thinking and feeling is like an insurance policy that guarantees you that if you feel a certain way and it conflicts with what you know is wrong the feeling is as much a justification for action as considering all the positive and negative effects of a possible action. In today’s world how many times have you heard, “ How do you feel about that?” Not what do you think about the issue but how do you feel?

People who feel that something has to be done about mass killings and don’t know what a viable solution is, cry out that we must do something. This is an emotional response that doesn’t spell out a solution but grasps at whatever they feel will stop the killing. Too often this is to blame the weapon used, while ignoring the “weapon” that caused a particular weapon to be the weapon of choice. The minds of the killers in Boston who used a bomb were no different in their mental operation than the killer in Florida who felt they were justified in their actions. The commonality of irrational feelings versus rational thought fits in all the mass killings whether they felt they were religiously justified or they felt they were justified in getting revenge.

The claim of mental problems is a broad brush approach that doesn’t address how they used their mentality. Obviously they used some rational thought processes to plan and execute their killings. This proves they had the ability to think rationally. However, what rationality was involved in determining their overall purpose? They did not consider the consequences of their actions, the results were glossed over and an irrational feeling guided them to pursue what inevitably would be a tragedy. They had been taught and accepted that their feelings were an accepted method of guiding their actions. “If it feels good, do it”

Most students are exposed to this fallacy from their childhood. Arguments based on fear ( an emotion ) are thrown at them in Sunday School classes, public and private schools and at home. Most morality is taught to them by such admonitions that you must help others, it will make you feel better. Sacrifice is honored as a virtue by the military and law enforcement. All politicians talk of their service to the nation as if they feel they are doing something self sacrificial ( as they rake in millions unearned ).

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No one is born with an idea in his head that it is his predestination to kill people. He has to formulate a view of what it takes for him to live , what is his role and what are his choices? He is not taught how to make choices. He is not taught the difference between rational thought and feelings. He is turned loose with unexamined feelings as his guide. If he has attached value to being a productive citizen his emotions will assist him, If he has attached value to bullying, getting even, unfairness as a focal point and/or a deity requires him to sacrifice his life for the sake of his deity then these “values “ will lead him to develop emotions that will move him to act upon them. As can be witnessed, the process is not predictable as to the time frame but the fact that it occurs in all stages of life only point to the common mental process of feelings becoming dominant. Ask a killer why he killed and you will not get a rational answer, only a shrug of “I felt like it”.

The source of mass shootings lies in the head of the killer. It lies in the lack of thinking he has done. The reliance on letting emotions rule his life and never questioning their source, their rationality or their consequences. He only knows how he feels and that he identifies his feelings with being him. Were he taught at an early age that his feelings were not to be relied on without verification by rational thought he would look differently at himself. Of course he could still turn off this knowledge and place his emotions in a dominant position but at least he would be exposed to the danger he was exposing himself to. He would not be deluded into thinking that his feelings were just as important as anybody’s including feelings of hate and a desire to kill.

This source will not be acceptable to many because they rely on their feelings to judge solutions that don’t match their preconceived notions and feelings that they identify as who they are. A gun control person will see that this doesn’t fit with his idea of a solution even though he is ignoring the fact that gun control has been an instrument of government tyranny throughout history. Like clinging to Socialism in spite of failures abounding, the person feeling that socialism could work identifies with his feeling as who he is and what he stands for.

There is more commonality of would be tyrants with serial killers than is recognized. The feelings of Hitler and the feelings of the Orlando killer were not far apart at all.They both held an irrational vision enhanced by feelings of hate and destruction. They both felt that killing people was okay and necessary. The both ignored individual rights and used their feelings as justification. They both became monsters for the same reason.

The solution to end mass shootings doesn’t lie in the law. It lies in the educational system. If children are not taught to think rationally and to regard their feelings as something they shape with rational choices and viewpoints then killers will continue to evolve from the equation of thinking with feeling. This is not just an American issue or just an issue that can be dismissed with a law or a dictate. It is a fact of human nature and if it is not recognized and understood, the consequences will multiply and continue. The choice to recognize and act accordingly rests with those who truly want this carnage to end.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and are not not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

Dale Netherton

Author of four published books, former Marine, forester, former plant services manager,former KT facilitator, former campgound builder and manager, handyman now retired to writing , chess , golf and fishing. ISU graduate, M.B.A. from Nova University and longtime supporter of ARI.


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