Was Émile Durkheim Right?

October 10, 2015 10:26 – 10:26

Durkheim wrote a lot about alienation and anomie. At the time, he viewed those as byproducts of urbanization and [mostly] young men moving away from rural/agricultural family-centered life to more isolated individual-centered life in the cities. Durkheim saw increased suicide rates as one of the results.

The modern twist, of course, is that the sense of powerlessness and disconnectedness has produced the ever-popular murder/suicide combo pack, sponsored by Gun Shops Everywhere.

Surely, the easy and indiscriminant availability of guns is a big part of the problem. But, something is driving alienated individuals to acquire and use them. Social isolation is a growing disease, and mass murder is just one symptom, among many.

Part of the solution might be the expansion of families and non-family social networks to become more proactive in seeking out and embracing loners. Can religion—and UUism in particular—offer any solutions? Stopping the easy flow of guns is part of the solution. Stemming the demand for them, however, might be something more achievable, given the misguided 2nd Amendment culture in the U.S.

Why misguided? Because the ones who are using weapons to commit mass-murder aren’t part of “well-regulated militias”. Ironically, if they were, that might provide at least a modicum of normative social guidance to prevent the sense of isolation that seems to be at the root of the violence problem in the U.S.

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