There have been three mass shootings in the last week alone that have left over 30 people dead and over 50 injured. All of the shooters were young, unmarried men.
This is no coincidence.
So many young men in America are sad, purposeless, and hopeless.
It’s not a big mystery.
When you have no real responsibility, consume the rhetoric of demagogic politicians and celebrities, have no religion, feel alienated from your own country and have been psychologically damaged by the painful elements of social media, you are setting yourself up to snap.
Of course, not every young man walking around with any of these issues is a future mass shooter, but these factors play a role in the ones who do.
I know this is how young men in America feel because it’s how I used to feel.
Only a few years ago, I felt lonely, isolated and without purpose. I felt like I had no sense of community or anyone I could turn to who’d be authentic with me. Fortunately, I was able to pull myself out of this rut. I did it by making a conscious effort to reconnect with my family. Renewed relationships with my mom and brother were key and their influence on me was instrumental in helping me discover what I wanted to do with my life.
I also re-evaluated the things that I did for fun versus what brought me happiness. Partying and hanging around toxic people brought lots of temporary pleasure, but not real happiness. When I started putting happiness before fun — like spending time with family, reading, and getting involved politically — my life completely turned around.
Unfortunately, not everyone successfully finds their way like I was blessed to do. Right now, young people are killing themselves at a rate higher than ever before, according to a recent study. Depression, anxiety, obsessive social media use, and opioids contribute the most to this, and nearly five times as many young men kill themselves than young women.
Moreover, there’s a gaping chasm at the very heart of our society — our homes. One in four children in America is growing up in a single-parent home, the vast majority of which the father is absent, according to Pew research.
Why does this matter? Growing up in a fatherless home is one of the strongest common denominators among mass shooters.
Research also has shown that 87% of past mass shooters have exhibited major signs of a crisis in their behavior prior to the shooting. This involves childhood trauma, mental health concerns, and drug abuse — all of which have been associated with an absence of fathers.
We also live at a time when the world has never been more connected, yet people also feel like they have nobody with whom they can talk. The predominant feeling in our culture is loneliness, not togetherness. Instead of bringing us closer, social media has polarized us. It’s no wonder people feel directionless, unmotivated, and disconnected from relationships.
So how do we fix this crisis?
The first place to start, of course, is by strengthening the family. But for young men who are on the margins, the answer is to help them find purpose and hope. Faith, family, and friends, meaningful work, volunteering, and healthy hobbies all contribute to a sense of belonging. Young men will never find fulfillment playing video games all day. They won’t find fulfillment from politics and social media. America’s young men need purpose and real meaningful connections in their lives.
We need to do everything we can to help young men (and women) to find mentors who care about them and who give them a sense of community.
Obviously, there will still be evil in the world, and mass shootings will happen when crazy and demented people are determined to commit a horrible act, but this solution isn’t just an answer to mass shootings. It’s an answer to fixing the American dream.
Will Witt creates online content for PragerU and helps inspire young people worldwide to fight for the values they believe in.