Date Line April 21, 2007
Virginia Tech, 33 dead, but not an isolated instance. More important, it was predicted.
Turn back to Scientific American circa 1960 and you will discover a study on rat populations which lead the author to predict, as city populations increased, there would be increased crime and violence.
I don’t recall the details, but the study has, obviously, stuck with me for more than forty years.
As the world population continues to increase, so too will the number of wars, genocidal conflicts, and seemingly random shooting of the kind which just occurred at Virginia Tech.
Psychologists talk of mob psychology. That groups of people have a tendency to behave in a manner independent of the behavior of any single individual.
The typical example is a lynch mob. There will be a rope; but who will bring it? There will be a stone or other item tossed; but who will toss it? In each instance the specific who is unknown; but there will be one person who responds in the manner which ends in a lynching.
We no longer have a system conducive to a mob hanging. Which is not to say it is not ever going to happen. If events are right, there will be a time when people storm into the streets and violence results.
We can think times when it happens; times which we do not equate to the old fashioned lynching. No matter. The emotional forces are at play, they are inherent in humanity; especially in humanity of a given emotional bent.
There will be more “Virginia Tech”, or “Columbine”, or Texas University Watch Tower, style massacres. They will occur because, like the rats in the Scientific American report, we have reached the point of ultimate stress.
We are facing overpopulation, a shortage of food, rising sea levels, general climate change, disease (natural and as a result of our own actions), and most important, we have people who are corrupting the things we turn to force solace ... making them a cause for anger.
Ignorance and intolerance are generally associated with the lynch mob mentality. We push our neighbor to the breaking point; and wonder why they break; and then expound on the violence released.
It is as if we play at triggering an atomic explosion; and then fain amazement at the hole created and destruction done.
We know of PTSD. We associate it with combat stress. We then deny treatment to our combat veterans returning from a conflict in which every step, every person, every place or sound, meant the possibility of death. When will Iraq cause its killings here?
Will you be surprised, and cry for the victims, who need not have been created but for the failure to give psychological treatment to the returning troops? Will you take responsibility for what you denied?
The rats are in a crowded cage, the population and pressures are increasing, we are intentionally aggravating and agitating them; we teach them to kill and then act in amazement as they turn on and devour each other.
We have knowingly redefined the environment for our lynch mob; and they are coming after us. Are you having fun yet?