My first novel, The Speechwriter, is based in the future when school shootings become a weekly occurrence. Why did I choose school shootings? There’s one simple reason. Mass Murder – Suicide is the tip of the ice berg of our greatest social issue right now. This issue is the same thing that causes suicide, assaults, addictions, rape, excessive use of drugs and alcohol, mid-life crises, the everlasting search for “more” in life and basically everything else that seems evil.
This issue I speak about is self-esteem. Not the pop culture version of self-esteem but the term that Nathaniel Branden – the world renowned psychotherapist used. He describes it as “the disposition to experience oneself as being competent to cope with the basic challenges of life and of being worthy of happiness. It is confidence in the efficacy of our mind, in our ability to think. By extension, it is confidence in our ability to learn, make appropriate choices and decisions, and respond effectively to change. It is also the experience that success, achievement, fulfillment – happiness – are right and natural for us.”
In short, I would say self-esteem is the belief that we can handle life’s challenges and that we are worthy of all the great things life has to offer. A big part of self-esteem is self-respect. By that I mean treating ourselves and our bodies with a high level of respect. That means sleeping enough, eating well, not doing things that are detrimental to us physically, spiritually, socially or emotionally.
It is important to note that self-esteem is most depleted in people aged 15-29 – the age where people are constantly trying to figure out who they are in this world. That is also the age group where the second most likely cause of death is suicide. The first being reckless driving.
Low self-esteem is the cause of people ignoring what they are truly interested in to pursue things that are generally more socially accepted. Low self-esteem is what makes people feel out of place when pursuing their natural interests. Low self-esteem is the cause of people studying and pursuing a career that they aren’t truly passionate about. Low self-esteem is what makes it possible for the following industries to exist: cosmetics, cosmetic surgery, gambling, prostitution, pornography and overpriced luxury items.
Low self-esteem makes girls say “I wasn’t born pretty enough which is why I spend an hour every day getting ready for school.”
Low self-esteem is what made Elliot Roger kill 6 people in the Isla Vista Shooting. “They wouldn’t sleep with me” he said. Low self-esteem is what caused the Columbine Shooters to rebel against “the jocks.”
Needless to say, self-esteem is America’s most depleted resource and if something is not done about it things will only get worse. This is why I chose school shootings. This is why I wrote The Speechwriter. There is evidence that this is an issue but there is no guaranteed way to fix it. The best option I can see right now is the public education system. That is where self-esteem needs to be developed.
What do you think?