I think most scientists agree that the capacity for violent behaviour towards other humans is a characteristic that has been evolutionary advantageous. Increasing populations and competition for resources have made those prepared to steal and kill, even wipe other tribes out, survive and pass on their genetic makeup. Perhaps the Neanderthals died out because they were more peaceful than we are. However, this capacity for violence must be controlled, so that it does not become self-destructive. Going berserk/into a Martian rage has been considered a good thing, but not anywhere, anytime. So, every society must have systems to guarantee inner safety, like tools for socialization (family, school, religion) and control (police, military, hospitals, prisons). Who said that if you want to learn about a society, study it´s prisons and mental asylums? Foucault was one who did.
|How do we protect ourselves now? And from what? *|
I read somewhere that in the 70´s, child psychologists wanted to remove all the deadly violence from the fairy tales, such as Hans and Greta pushing the wicked witch into the oven. What they found was that this made children feel unsafe. Their reasoning required that the evil one died, they couldn´t grasp the more complex and mature concept of reform and change in an individual that had proved itself evil. And even though we, as adults, can understand that, entertainment violence (Bond kicking ass) wouldn´t be as emotionally satisfying to us if we had really integrated this insight fully. We cheer when the Bond-villain is blown up by the very bomb he intended for us. How many of us can say that we really have empathy with the Evil one? There are signs that some have come that far.
So, can we change our image of the Lone Gunman as a cultural hero? I have no good answer to that. The archetype is like the weapon itself. It depends who is wielding it. (We certainly don´t want to send Bond out there unarmed, even though he assures us, again and again, that weapons of mass destruction is no match for his cleverness. He pushes the wicked witch into her own oven every time.) Also, archetypes work together, in complex patterns, within individuals and societies. The larger, more global and inclusive society becomes, the more difficult it will be to control this part of our psyche and give it an outlet. We are simply running out of enemies. Where do the superfluous warrior go? I understand that if a single cell is removed from the body, and no longer gets signals from other cells that it is needed, it dies. The same goes for humans. Without confirmation from society they will wither away or explode, depending on what their dominant archetype is.
I believe that the next big challenge for human kind is to integrate the separate cultures. You may have heard social analysts and commenters say that the wars of our era are not fought between nations, but between cultures. Perhaps Newtown is another alarmbell going off, that this is not a war that we can win. What if we must channel our energy into changing the way we function, fundamentally, as a species, if we are going to survive? Perhaps we can delete the Lone Gunman from our psyche. Perhaps this will require nothing short of an evolutionary leap. Can we do it?
What´s the alternative? I would hope that future history books mentions Newtown as a turning point, when a new awareness was born, and the seed of a new collective psyche was sown. The dawn of a New world, instead of an apocalypse (another archetype that we are much too fond of). I can at least say that I have become a bit more aware of my own thinking, or lack of it. And as always, change begins with ourselves.
And I also want to say, that I see no reason whatsoever why anyone who is not a soldier, a policeperson, or a licenced and trained hunter, should ever see so much as an inch of a firearm. Ever.
* Södra Åbergsfortet, Boden, 2012.