Misguided heros

We love super heroes.  Disney has made billions marketing the idea of the gentleman hero, the man with the exceptional ability to save lives.  Some were morphed into heroes, bit by a spider or exposed to radiation or some experimental serums.  Some are wealthier than God and have every toy the military wished it had.  Some are geniuses.


None are real.


So many of us love the idea of being a hero.  We’d all love to help and be the one that changes tragedy to overcoming.  Despair to hope.  Loss, to progress.


We usually don’t.


I’m not being negative or pessimistic.  We have all done things that were wonderful in the moment and helped someone out or was the right thing to do.  Most of us I believe are good people.  But the world is not the calamity of burgeoning tragedy you see in movies.


So simply put, there simply won’t be the opportunity to be that hero we envisioned becoming as a child.  That is a dream we have to let go as adults.  And should.


If we were driving along the road near a bike path and we see someone have a horrific looking accident on that bike path, would we likely stop?  Try to help?  Call for help?  Yes to all for most of us.  Of course yes.


If you were presented with a burning house in your neighborhood, would you stop to help?  I suppose that depends on if there was professional help already there.  If there was not, and you see flames shooting out a window would most of us stop and try to do something?  Yes.  Of course yes.


We are human and we want to help, usually.  We are compassionate, usually.  If we were the one in need, we would want and likely expect others to help.


But these are not likely.


The option that many take is to become one of the aforementioned “professional helpers”: Police, fireman, nurses, doctors, EMTs, paramedics, psychotherapists and soldiers.  Even people such as plow drivers and public workers who are expected to come in when everyone is told to stay home, can feel this hero role come upon them.


It is natural and a good thing I think to want to help.  To want to be that person.  To earn respect so we can simultaneously want it and yet also say “just doin my job, ma’am”.  Been there.  It feels good.


Most of the afore mentioned jobs are filled by men.  This is why this writing is rather male tilted.  There is also a further reason coming.  Stay tuned bat fans…


Most of those jobs listed are also filled by young people.  I’m not saying that heroism is a young person’s game but I am saying that these professions are usually so demanding and not rewarding enough that as life demands increase, like bills and kids and not working the night shift, many move on to other professions.


Also, these jobs are INCREDIBLY emotionally demanding.  The responsibility of having another persons life in your hands is more than anyone can imagine until they are the one responsible.  Then it can be too late to know, this is not something you are prepared to carry.


Think of this, how many of us have jobs where people die in the normal course of our profession.  A customer, client, patient, consumer of yours, may die while in the course of your professional responsibility.  Responsibility…


This is why those professions I mentioned, and many more, have training and certifications and continuing education and often licensing and ethics review boards and lawyers.  Yes I hate lawyers too, until you need one, but culpability is part of responsibility.


I am a psychotherapist, and I lost 5 clients in 5 years in the normal course of my job.  I was not responsible; the causes predated me even knowing my clients.  They stay with me.  There were death reviews.  There was family.  There was people who knew them.  There were funerals and wakes and receptions and the reality that life ends not in isolation, but in the company of others.


I didn’t cause their death.  I didn’t end their life.  But to be a part of the events that ended those lives, changed me forever.  To be part of the path that was close the terminus is a sobering thing.  I questioned my ability, my responsibility, my compassion and if I should be doing what I was doing.  Every time.  I can name them.  Each one.  I can see those who I met who loved them. I can also recall where I was when I found out they had died.


Each one left a hand print on me.


Now, my profession is more regulated than most.   Not all, most.  We are required to graduate from a 60 credit masters level program, intern for 600 hours, go through two years of supervision, pass a test of over 100 questions that took me three times to pass even after 5 years of professional experience, attend continuing education and am subject to legal and ethical review. And all I do is listen to people talk about their worst days.



Now, according to my friends who have conceal and carry permits they had to pass a background check that took about 5 minutes while you browsed the store to buy the gun originally, and had to attend a conceal and carry class that was four hours long, pay $65 and demonstrate that you can fire a weapon safely on a range.  Done.


I wont criticize this, for I am going to use it to make a further point.


After the shooting in Orlando, a posting circulated around Facebook that turned my stomach.  It was not intended to or meant in a bad way.  But is demonstrated that many gun owners simply don’t get the other sides view… I will illustrate it in a very clear and some will say offensive way, but you will remember it.


The posting went like this, I quoted it directly from a friend’s post on my page.  I  broke it up to offer feedback but it is all there.



“I stand behind you in line at the store with a smile on my face…and a gun under my shirt and you are none the wiser, yet you are safer for having me next to you. I won’t shoot you. “

[I honestly believe that you mean that, but you cannot really know that you wont end up shooting me since guns can and have killed innocent people even when used by professionals with combat experience.  So right off the bat you are making yourself a hero.]

“My gun won’t pull it’s own trigger.”

[I agree]

“I have passed a thorough background check, been trained and have a license to carry it.”

[A background check has nothing to do with ability but yes, I get the point that you may not be a criminal.  The training for license does not include combat or return fire training and consisted of 4 hours of classroom instruction and about 15 rounds down range with no one firing back, innocent people in the firing range or terror.  Your permit DOES NOT demonstrate ability so my response is, SO WHAT. You are focusing on legal right not competence.]

“It is securely holstered and with the trigger covered. It can’t just go off. However, rest assured that if a lunatic walks into the grocery store and pulls out a rifle, I will draw my pistol and protect myself and my family… “

[I get that and agree with your intent]

“and therefore protect you and your family.”

[OK, you have no idea where I or my family will be or if we are similarly dressed as the lunatic or innocently walking into the situation when you are squeezing off rounds from your likely shaking adrenaline rushed hand, or hopefully hands and no offense, but that does not make me feel safe to know there are now MORE guns being fired around me. Personally, DO NOT PROTECT ME.  I DON’T TRUST YOU WITH YOUR GUN IN THAT SETTING AND SITUATION AND YOUR LACK OF COMBAT TRAINING]

“I may get shot before I can pull the trigger…but I won’t go down without a fight.”

[I may get shot WHEN you pull the trigger but I do understand your sentiment.  But this sounds like you envision going down in a blaze of glory.  I want nothing to do with your glory AND DON’T MAKE ME YOUR REASON TO CARRY.]

“I won’t be that victim. I choose not to be.”

[I am ALL about empowerment so I get that.  But I don’t want to be YOUR victim either.]

“As for you, I don’t ask you to carry a gun. If you are not comfortable, then please don’t.”

[I agree with the last part but the “ I don’t ask you to carry”  part, damn right you don’t, you have no right to ask me to carry so what is your point here that I should feel respect from you for not asking me to carry a weapon?  FUCK OFF.  But I would add this.  If you ARE comfortable discharging a firearm in a public setting regardless of inspiration, YOU are part of the problem.]

“In fact I would say it’s not for everyone, the responsibility is enormous. But I would like to keep my right to choose to not be a helpless victim.”

[you are right]

“There is evil in the world and if evil has a gun, I want one too…”

[where does the “I want one too” end?  Do you wanna carry a Ma Deuce?]
“As long as lunatics have access to firearms, I don’t want my legal and constitutional right to bear arms infringed upon.”

[no one has, unless you are upset that criminals have to buy guns privately or in gun shows.  99 laws have been repealed in 37 different states making it legal to carry guns in more ways, more places and with less supervision.  NO ONE IS INFRINGING so get off that tired rag of a statement…]
“Copy and paste if you’d like.”

[I didn’t]


In fact this posting makes my skin crawl.  It is so much about hero wanna-bes and how you are carrying a weapon for me, to protect me and mine.  This is propaganda and likely written by the NRA.  This reeks of grandiosity and narcissism.  This is a post about, “see, we are your guardians, do not infringe upon my right to protect you.”  FUCK YOUR HERO IDEATIONS.


Here is part of my perspective; no one I know has ever defended themselves with their own personal protection gun.  Not counting soldiers and officers and those who carry as part of their job, not one has at least told me about it. And from the tone of this FB posting going around, they would tell me.


There are 88 guns per 100 people in the US. There are more guns per person in the US than any other industrialized First world nation and yet we have the most active shooter situations of any nation in the world.  You and your hero ideations are NOT solving this.


As kids we watched largely male super heroes [which is its own issue] and power through weaponry is a largely male Freudian thing.  Most Cowboys in the movies are male. Most soldiers in the  movies are male.  Most active shooters are male.  And MOST who have conceal and carry permits are male.  Food for thought from a therapist.


If you love guns and feel safer carrying one the laws say you can.  I am not trying to change the laws.  I am pointing out that this posting that is going around Facebook directed at the non gun carriers is arrogant, ignorant, narcissistic and offensive.


NEVER EVER use me as YOUR excuse to carry a fire arm into a supermarket or shopping mall when you likely have NO training or experience in live fire situations and likely cannot wield a weapon, whose the sole purpose is KILLING, safely in such a setting. Don’t EVER say you do it for me.  I find this offensive in similar ways that I find racism offensive and sexism offensive.  THAT is how you sound to me when if you say this….


Last food for thought …. To this date, 6-16-2016, 141 people in this country have died in mass shootings this year.  1,058 have died from accidental shootings……










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