When Will It Happen Again?
By Bart Vogelzang

As a responsible adult, and one who pretty much appreciates everyone I meet, if not actually going so far as to like or love them for just being, I cannot support violence against others, yet I cannot help but wonder, “When will it happen again?”

Not that it hasn’t happened before, as one can see when reviewing topical headlines over the last few years; “Fired man takes co-workers hostage, kills two, takes own life.” “Frustrated welfare client kills case worker, then takes own life.” Teen, bullied for years, shoots up school then turns gun on himself.” “Car deliberately driven into crowd.” People, most often men, frustrated beyond their endurance level, decide to take steps to alter things…sometimes in detrimental ways.

When someone is frustrated and pained by continual harassment, bullying, unfair actions and language, and nobody does anything about it, or worse, nobody even gives the victim any credence at all, they really only see three possibilities; continue as is, which is a nearly impossible challenge since everyone feels the need to reduce pain or, become very depressed, and thereby start to shut down all aspects of their lives or, decide to take action. The first two of those have perilous results awaiting them, and the last one has only a chance of a successful outcome.

Continuing to just accept the status quo, and being ground down, minute by minute, utterance by utterance, hour by hour, day upon day, as weeks turn to months turn to years, will almost certainly leave the person as a totally useless, self-pitying, self-loathing husk of his/her former individuality.

Unfortunately, a great number of people descend partway down the path of accepting their torture, and then slip into a spiral of depression. Before they know it, they can no longer see out of their despair enough to even seek help. They have been pushed so deep that it becomes impossible to even contemplate assistance being available, and so they don’t even call a Helpline, like the Trevor Project (1-866-488-7386) or Childhelp (1-800-422-4453), despite the resources and supports that such organizations offer. Consequently, we see all too many headlines about another bullied child having committed suicide. What a shame. What a waste. What a disaster for each one of them.

However, it is the last group of sufferers, the one that encompasses those who decide to make a change, which has the greatest possibilities for either good outcomes, or horrendous catastrophes. No matter where someone might be on their abused trail, even if at the very brink of causing their own self-destruction, they can change. It is always possible to learn to cope, with a change of perspective, and that is the truest benefit of those help lines; their capacity for enabling the abuse victim to find the will to turn away from the abyss. Emotional support, guidance, and the referral of services never before known to the abuse victim can all help him/her move towards an improving existence, step by step. Just like an overweight person not being able to recover their svelte figure overnight, anyone deep in understandable depression will need time, as well as support, to get to a truly healthful place. That first turn identifies the path, but many steps will need to be taken in the days ahead.

The dark side though, is never far away. There are going to be some, and probably a growing number, who will opt for a change, but instead of that change being to seek help onto the path of personal betterment, they act on their problems wholly by themselves, with variable results.

Much of our society is busy removing the unwanted from our lives, from cutting out and even poisoning weeds, to killing pesky insects, to culling nuisance animals, to medically excising cysts and cancers. We’ve even seen, recently, that in some states there are laws ‘protecting’ one’s right to the violent killing of another person as long as one claims to have felt ‘threatened’. It doesn’t take much imagination to realize that anyone seeing that type of ‘problem solving’ as a common occurrence all around them, may well do some similar ‘problem solving’ of their own, with equally deadly consequences. Without clear-cut alternatives, some of the abused have reacted this way, and they didn’t always take only their abusers with them. What a shame. What a waste. What a disaster for each of us.

Each time administrations permit violent actions against another this terrible problem solving technique will be reinforced, making future disasters more likely. Each time bullying is permitted to continue disaster is inexorably nearing. Each time a cost cutting measure removes a part of the emotional safety net, we are all the more at risk. Each utterance of intolerance by authorities, by clergy, by parents, by peers is another nail in that coffin waiting to greet us should someone not be able to take it any more. What a stupid shame. What an unnecessary mess. What an unforgivable loss…waiting to happen again?