The Problem of Urban Violence

A few months ago there were two deadly shootings in the United States, in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. I was actually in Ohio, not too far from Dayton, when these took place. These types of shootings, although isolated incidents, seem to be on the rise. Along with these incidents the gun control rhetoric rages on with the advocates for gun control on one side and the advocates for freedom to bear arms for self-protection on the other side. Is this really an issue of gun control? 

I live in the greater Toronto area in Canada, a country which has relatively strict gun control laws and I have seen the increase in gun violence in Toronto over the years. This shows me that stricter gun control laws are not the issue because firearms can be easily acquired on the black market. There is a greater issue at hand here which I will try to elucidate. 

What is the root of violence in our society? Is it racial inequality? Is it economic disparity? Is it religious radicalism? I would say that these are all factors to some degree, however, the real root of violence lies in past traumas. The fact is that, there is nobody that is immune to early childhood trauma. 

Now, this does not have to be something major, such as physical or sexual abuse, but could simply be parental neglect due to two working unavailable parents, bullying at school, increasing isolation and loneliness perpetuated by social media, which gives a false sense of connection or not living up to expectations whether they be from your parents, your teachers, your peers or society in general. 

The fact is that we all suffer from emotional trauma no matter how minor. The issue is not the trauma itself, which is unavoidable, but how we deal with the trauma. The negative emotions associated with any degree of trauma are often suppressed because they may be too painful to deal with. 

When difficult emotions are suppressed they become lodged in the body and can cause physical symptoms. They can also fester, like an untreated wound, and surface when we have a stressful situation. The fact is that only someone who has been traumatized, and has not learned how to deal with the difficult emotions surrounding such trauma, who usually inflicts pain and suffering on others, which often comes in the form of violence. 

I believe the real root of gun violence in North America lies in unresolved and suppressed emotions around past traumatic events. This is why gun control will never resolve this issue and not where our focus should lie. This is not to say that we should not have stricter gun control laws and higher standards for those who want to own firearms. It just won’t solve the issue of gun violence. 

In the next article I will discuss how to address the problem of emotional trauma and emotional blocks. Till then, take a good look at yourself and see where you are avoiding your difficult emotions and suppressing themtto avoid pain and what it has done to you. 

Nauman Naeem MD    

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