American society is ill with anger and violence. Three hundred people are assaulted by guns daily, and 100 across the U.S. die from these wounds each day. The latest school massacre, in Parkland, Florida, left 17 students and staff dead. Another massacre is a call—no, a scream—for some common sense and effective solutions.
Everyone wants a safer America. That’s not a controversy; it’s a consensus. Americans dying from gunshot wounds in schools, at concerts, in churches, or in movie theaters affects all of us, not just those of us who are trying to help you lead a healthy life. Health includes all aspects of life, and life itself is under attack.
We are watching our children being murdered.
Both sides have taken to calling “B.S.” On one side is the call to make schools a “hard zone” and “arm certain teachers.” On the other side is a call to raise the age to be able to purchase guns, better background checks, better data input on risky people, and modest changes to protect our children, teachers, and citizens.
After all, when cars were dangerous we made them safer. When lead in gasoline was shown to be a problem for human health, we took it out. When cigarettes were linked to cancer, we raised the taxes on them to discourage use. After 911 we secured our skies. So what can we do about guns in the hands of angry or mentally ill people?
Looking around the world at the other democratic developed countries, what do they have that we don’t? Gun control. Not that they don’t have mental health problems or that they have less angry people; they just don’t allow unlimited access to weapons of war. Though anger is on the rise world-wide, it is here in America that we seem to think “nothing can be done” about putting guns in “bad” hands.
When Australia began to have these massacres, they employed more gun control. This has so far stopped these tragedies.
In American cities where there are strong background checks in place, there are 35% less incidence of these horrific massacres and 38% less domestic violence killings. Citizens have to wait untill twenty-one years of age to buy a hand gun. Yet an eighteen-year old can walk into a store and buy an AR 15 assault weapon. Even Trump is asking this question.
This is not taking away the Second Amendment. There are already some protective caveats in place. For example, we still have our Second Amendment rights, but I cannot walk into a store and own a bazooka. Why not extend these protective measures to assault weapons?
Guns, though, are not the only issue.
What is causing this plague of rage?
From my perspective as a hormone scholar and healer, I see a distinct connection between hormone-altering chemicals, which have a clear effect on the human brain, and the problems arising from anger and polarized emotions.
Scientists from the Netherlands recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience that oxytocin, a peptide hormone and neuropeptide, has a lot to do with making the brain less angry and allowing it to perceive fair solutions for injustices. Yet our food and lifestyle are filled with endocrine-disrupting chemicals, such as bisphenol-A, that can alter oxytocin and make it less effective.
Bisphenol-A lines soda and bubbly water cans is found in white dental fillings, and is released when plastic containers are washed in most detergents in dishwashers and then reused for food and drink. The more junk we eat, the more hormone-altering chemicals bang our brains into disharmony and impulsivity control disarray. We have a president who binges on junk food, such as the dozen cans of Diet Coke he drinks each day and a steady diet of cheeseburgers, and we see how well he controls his temper (he recently got angry at the president of Mexico for not agreeing to pay for the wall). Is Bisphenol-A (and all the other chemicals from various junk foods) affecting his brain?
How much are hormone-altering chemicals altering our brains so we are unable to control our emotions and act sanely?
It’s terrifying that we live in a time when some think the solution to an “active shooter” at a school is to arm teachers, who just want to teach, not be security guards. Too much can go wrong. They can accidentally shoot kids. They can get shot themselves. Training would have to be in-depth, in simulated situations, over time, and very costly. No, it’s a solution only the NRA would like—bring in MORE guns. It’s a crazy distracting idea from the underlying illness.
The NRA gave an unprecedented $30 million dollars to the presidential campaign and now we have a legislature (and CDC and oh, yes, why aren’t we hearing from the Surgeon general) fearful to go against them. The NRA is only 5 million. They are not the 75% or more of most Americans who long with all their hearts and minds to see all these slaughters stop.
There is an escalating breakdown of many systems (FBI, local reporting, state reporting, sheriff offices, and on and on) that allow a “sick” person to get an assault gun and commit mass murder.
But these issues are the tips of the ice-bergs of deeper societal issues.
We have, it seems more and more sick and angry people. We have shorter fuses. We emotionally tail-gate on and off the highways. Mutual respect between individuals and groups seems to have lost its luster and cultural intentionality.
Politicians yell and accuse. More people, at higher and higher levels, lie. Veracity seems to mean less than pursuing one’s ambitions. Video games, TV and movies now contain continual violence. And make authority and parental figures look weak and ineffectual.
Is this the legacy we want for our children?
What might be the reasons for these unfoldings and what might be some answers? What cultural factors are breeding this continuing disease?
- Maybe we need to learn to control our own rage so we can deal differently with the rage of others.
- Maybe we can demand transparency and accountability from our elected leaders.
- Maybe we can stop special interest groups from donating unprecedented amounts of campaign money (or put limits) to politicians who will do their bidding.
- Maybe we can demand scientific research (facts, not “fake news”) into the link between psychotropics and impulsivity control, especially in kids. (Just one of too many examples is the link between sprayed pyrethroids in the home as “natural” bug answers, but clearly linked to our kids being unable to control their emotions, especially anger).
- Maybe we can educate more about the link between junk food and junk thoughts.
- Maybe we can support our elegant, strong-voiced teens, who hopefully represent a saner future. The Generation Z (and straggling millenials) have entered the building! Six are even running for governor in Kansas!
- Maybe, just maybe, we can cure our world of chemically-enhanced anger through a national detox program or insurance reimbursement for individual detoxification or more use of natural health protocols rather than more drugs.
- Maybe we can have an independent evaluation of all the “missteps” that contribute to killings, as we did with 9/11, to make the future better by better understanding our past.
And always, always, be mindful of the power of one. Many changes that have come to our great country began with grassroots individual folk like you.
Never underestimate the power of one more polite act at a time. Or the power of healthier food and less chemicals inside our body and brain.
Be the change we want.
Support the change we need.
Enough is enough!
PS. You can always hear and learn more on my podcast Dr. Berkson’s Best Health Radio Podcast . The most recent show is a deeper discussion of Guns, Anger and the role that I believe hormone disruption plays. Listen to this episode here.
Want to dive even deeper? Check out my hormone courses. Redefining Hormones explains our “new” understanding of hormones in light of today’s toxic world, with a huge data-intermingling of hormones and hormone-altering chemicals, their function and dysfunction.
- J Neurosci. 2018 Feb 19. pii: 1242-17. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1242-17.2018. Neurobiological Mechanisms of Responding to Injustice.
- More than half of U. S. gun owners do not safely store their guns Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
- Ann Intern Med. 2016 Oct 18;165(8):543-550. DOI. 10.7326/M16-0739. Epub 2016 Jul 26.Public Opinion Regarding Whether Speaking With Patients About Firearms Is Appropriate: Results of a National Survey.
- Is Our Society Increasingly Angry? Susan Krauss Whitborne Ph.D. Professor Emeria of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the Univ. of Mass Amherst Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph.D. Fulfillment at Any Age
- FASEB J. 2015 May;29(5):1960-72. DOI: 10.1096/fj.14-260901. Epub 2015 Jan 28.Developmental pesticide exposure reproduces features of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.