This past week, in response to the October 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas, Randy Flood, director of the Men’s Resource Center, and two of his associates, Al Heystek and Otha Brown, co-authored a column entitled, “Asking the Right Questions in the Wake of Las Vegas.”
What could cause any individual man to feel so disconnected from himself and humanity that he would act out in such a violent manner? The authors acknowledge that it’s impossible to know what motivated the man behind the Las Vegas tragedy but they do highlight traits that many – if not all men – share.
“…. In our experience, almost all men struggle with painful feelings of fear, shame, and loneliness, and yet, are prevented from seeking relief by thoughts such as: ‘I should be stronger…I need to suck it up…I need to handle it…other men don’t struggle like this…I need to get a grip…I just need to man up, then I’d be fine.’ Almost from birth, men are socialized to believe that any admission of struggle, shame, or pain indicates they have failed on a personal level, and so, many men opt to suffer in silence, even as their pain becomes more and more debilitating.”
“We believe men aren’t born to act out their pain onto others in violent ways, they are socialized to disconnect from their emotion and they lose a part of themselves—empathy and compassion—needed to govern behavior.”
The Next Step
The authors hope that this most recent mass shooting will motivate more people to address the mental health and well-being of men and that it will offer an opportunity for men and for men to more fully express their masculinity by uncovering their own empathy and compassion.