I support the second amendment. I own a gun. I come from a family of hunters. My daughter is in the Army and I have spent years working in military training at the highest level. I understand and respect the use of weapons.
I am also a psychologist and I particularly study something I call strategic psychology – or how emotional movements at the national and international level can affect human behavior and ultimately, lead to productive societies or destructive ones. As I have been traveling the nation and interviewing Americans about their views of politics and government, the safety of our nation, and our preparation for the future, I see fear and fatigue everywhere – across both parties, every state, and every socio-economic status.
What happens when fear runs deep? What happens when a nation starts distrusting its neighbors? What happens when social media shares messages rapidly and widely?
It starts with discussions and anger at the local level. It grows to a few hits in the press. It spreads across groups planting seeds of concern and possibility. Pretty soon, patterns seem common to people – in other words, we unintentionally connect unconnected events and actions that lead us to believe patterns exist where they don’t. Very soon, people take ‘protective’ action – and the fear spreads.
Aubrey Huff, a social media influencer, recently posted a picture of himself and his children showing that he has been teaching them to shoot, emphasizing that “most of the head shots were theirs” [his children’s shots].
What concerns me about this – beyond the obvious? It takes fear to a level beyond self-defense. It plants seeds in young children that their fellow citizens are to be feared and killed if they don’t agree with them. Children are not yet able to understand socio-political intricacies. Their brains have not yet fully developed. Teaching children to fear others and hunt humans exceeds a self-defensive posture. It exceeds anything I’ve ever seen in military training manuals, practices, or expectations.
The act of displaying pride in arming children to hunt humans should concern every single citizen, no matter your political position. I have been so honored to work with exceptional military personnel and I have never, ever seen them profess a position like this. For those who have seen real death, for those of us who have witnessed military archives overseas where civil wars have occurred, for our military personnel that take the defense of this nation seriously, we have to help our nation see another path.
For my fellow psychologists, supporters of human life and the ability to thrive in our country, we have to find a way to lessen the fear that abounds.
Do not underestimate terrorism: Control by Fear. It can destroy the strongest of nations.