My Thoughts After the Sandy Hook Massacre
A few year ago I would never have considered myself someone who cared much about politics let alone follow it. But now, it keeps me up at night just thinking about it. Not necessarily because it bothers me, but I sometimes have a hard time shutting my brain down at night and more and more, it’s the election, health care, gun control, tax policy, education, et. al. that is occupying my thoughts. Maybe it’s my age. Either way, the recent events of Sandy Hook, Aurora, Oregon Town Center mall and some of the lesser publicized attempted shootings has had me thinking.
The Sandy Hook massacre reminds me a little bit of the massacre in the Amish community in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It’s heart wrenching. There isn’t a level headed person in the country who isn’t horrified by these events, myself included. Some of what has occupied my mind is considering what I would have done if I were in the school, or how I would feel if, God forbid, something similar happened to my children. We can’t help it. That’s what level headed people do. The next step, is thinking what could I do to prevent something like this happening. So it’s natural that it becomes part of the National Conversation.
But something has me really bothered. I have been listening to the debate and watching the President and his team to see how they will respond, and I have come to the conclusion that they are likely not going to do anything that would actually help prevent this type of tragedy from happening again. They are going to focus on their political agenda instead.
A few days ago, President Obama said that he was skeptical that putting more guns in schools was a good solution. Well, I’m skeptical that putting more guns in schools would make any difference too. I mean, if there are just guns in drawers and filing cabinets lying around in schools they will do absolutely nothing in the event of another attack. That statement shows that the President is not able to dehumanize an inanimate object and is so politically charged that it makes it obvious that he really is either not willing, or incapable of looking past the politics and committing to a real solution. The reason is, guns are not the issue in these events. People are the issues.
The NRA has proposed that we put armed guards at all of our schools. Whether you agree with this proposal or not it at least starts to recognize that it’s not about putting guns in schools, it’s about putting people in schools. In the case of the NRA proposal, people who are trained in the use of the firearm and level headed enough to know when it’s appropriate to use it. But even this avoids the real issue.
The real issue is this. More and more our society devalues decency, politeness, manners, morality, kindness, hard work and family. We are growing generations of Americans who don’t know what it’s like to sit around the dinner table every night with their parents and siblings. Many in these generations don’t have any idea what it’s like to kneel as a family and pray or give thanks. They don’t know what it’s like to work in the garden or drive across the country or build a tree house with their family. The responsibility of teaching values to our children is increasingly being abandoned by parents and the vacuum is being filled by reality television, MTV, Hollywood, video games and the government. This generation of parents has a higher percentage of individuals who were raised in affluence than any other in history. Many didn’t have to know the values of hard work and were taught by anti-war radicals that peace, love, tolerance, drugs and alcohol were synonymous and mingling virtue with vice was void of consequence. Well the consequences are real and varied and include the violence we are witnessing today.
These horrific tragedies make up only a minute fraction of the real consequences of this shift away from morality. — which strangely enough has become a politically charged word and for many equates to anti-gay biases and bigotry but I’m talking about a higher morality which calls hatred and bigotry of any kind immoral. And frankly that goes both ways. Anti-religious zealots are equally immoral when they promote hatred and bigotry towards Christians and others faiths. — Much bigger consequences, and frankly much bigger killers, include poverty, juvenile crime, drug and alcohol abuse, depression and mental illness. Where is our sense of decency and propriety? We produce movies like Saw, Natural Born Killers, and Kill Bill which make millions and then we are surprised and “horrified” when gore and savagery is acted out in real life. Then, in the face of tragedy, the only thing our leaders can bring themselves to talk about is the evils of an inanimate object.
We have made tolerance a virtue but only in a backward sort of way. We have to tolerate immorality, abortion, drug use, gore and ugliness so as not to offend but it’s ok to be intolerant of religion, freedom and law-abiding citizens who have never broken a law in their life but happen to own a gun. As we learned in the last several months it’s ok to single out a religion that we think is weird and demonize it and it’s members regardless of the fact their members have the lowest divorce rate, poverty rate, out-of-wedlock birth rate, crime rate and some of the highest high-school graduation rates, income and charitable contributions.
Instead of extolling virtue and condemning vice, more and more we criticize and make fun of virtue and glorify vice. Can we be so arrogant as to think that there are no consequences for this behavior? And can we be so stupid as to think that another law about guns or bullying or really any law at all is going to make a difference? In 2012 there were more than 40,000 new laws in this country. It’s impossible to calculate how many laws there are in total. There are over 5000 ways to commit a crime in the United States. With all of that, why don’t we live in a Utopian society? Surely, if it were possible to legislate ourselves into a totally peaceful and healthy society all those laws would have made it happen by now. It’s inconceivable that there aren’t laws on the books that address the prevention of these heinous crimes. Why do we think that more laws added to the innumerable current laws are going to protect us?
The truth of the matter is that violent crime in the United States is down! Way down! Furthermore, more people are struck by lightning than shot by the type of rifle that the President and Congress are so adamant about banning.
So what has me really, bothered is that I have yet to hear the President or anyone around him say anything about the real problem. Why doesn’t the President utilize his vast reach and popularity to start a campaign aimed at persuading our citizens to reject the debauchery of pornography and the depiction of gratuitous violence? Knowing that one of the largest killers is poverty and that the two highest indicators of poverty are not graduating from high school and having children out of wedlock, why isn’t there a massive push to reinforce the family and encourage kids to stay in school? Why no appeal to black men to stay with their families when nearly 20% of ALL births are to unwed non-Hispanic black women, more than twice that of any other race? Why no condemnation of an institution that portrays mass killings, glorifies cruelty and embraces immorality? Why no attempt to teach that a pervasive playing of violent video games is linked to aggressive behavior? We don’t need fewer guns, we need more marriage counselors and good parenting seminars.
I continue to be bothered. And I’m sure that I won’t be sleeping very well tonight. I’ll be thinking of the parents of those beautiful children who paid the price for our tolerance and vanity. But here’s hoping that there are enough of us left who are not afraid to stand up for right and condemn wrong and that somehow, we can turn the tide towards virtue and away from vice. It’s about people.