And so another unspeakable tragedy has struck what should be one of America’s most dependable havens – our schools. Schools are supposed to be a bubble, a place where students can find answers to their unsolved questions, friends to create a community that is often lacking at home, and a sense of self that is hard to develop elsewhere. Schools are supposed to be the one place, institutional dysfunctions aside, where most of our societal ills are kept in the shadows.
Perhaps this notion is illusory. As the Columbine, Virginia Tech and now yesterday’s unthinkable and virtually barbaric tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut shows, schools are not immune from the defects of the world in which we live nor the evil, perhaps blindly evil, intentions of those who suffer from some form of derangement. It’s one thing to see schools portrayed as hostile environments in the movies, a place where grudges are carried out and ill-will begins to overboil. But those are isolated high schools, usually in violence ridden neighborhoods, and at the end of the day, those are film-based scenarios, not real life contexts. Unfortunately, the news usually suggests otherwise.
I am not even sure where I want to go with the rest of this blog. I just know that when I heard the news yesterday afternoon and read an assortment of headline articles this morning, I feel the need, like most of us do, to air my opinions a little.
I’ll start with the issue of gun control. Some issues are so obvious, they speak for themselves. The last time I checked, we haven’t had a war on American soil for over 150 years. The age of militias needing to bear arms to protect certain frontiers is over. As is the Civil War. I am still not even sure why anyone, other than someone in combat overseas, needs to carry a gun. It’s not as if the hunter-gatherer system is still in place. There are tons of grocery stores in America, perhaps too many. As for the issue of self-defense, exactly who is attacking us? Solicitors, spammers, Snookie, Christmas jingles, reality TV? None of the aforementioned “assaults” can be fended off with guns, nor should they be.
Twenty year old males, which is the average age of the Columbine, Littleton movie theatre and Virginia Tech assailants, don’t need guns. They need friends, food, women to flirt with, classes to attend and part-time jobs to get a taste of working society. If they have issues with alienation, go talk to some professionals about it, write in a journal, go listen to The Smiths. If they have issues with aggression, go to the gym or run around your house a few dozen times. Shit, you can even play pinball or some other non-violent video game. There are a literally a thousand better options than shooting up a building of innocent, life loving adolescents.
I am hesitant to read more about Adam Lanza’s character profile. This is mainly because I don’t need to. In our Pavlovian existence, we have been conditioned to know the type – intelligent (in a theoretical sense), introverted, confused, alienated and probably full of pent-up resentments. He needed a lifeline, not a weapon and not a set of laws protecting his right to purchase and abuse one.
I think I speak for most of us when I say that I wish I could pretend that yesterday’s tragedy didn’t occur and I wish I lived in a world where people would deal with their sense of disillusion in a civilized way. This is not like believing in unicorns; this is a very real possibility if we were more vigilant about mental health, the ease at which one can gain access to a firearm and simply promoting peaceful co-existence.
I also wish I could do something to prevent future atrocities and though I am not a lawmaker, a parent, nor a mental health professional, I am a concerned citizen, with a clear appreciation for the fact that the 1st Amendment comes before the second.
Today there are 28 people no longer with us who were alive and kicking yesterday. This Adam Lanza ruined the dreams of dozens of parents, elementary school children and their legions of extended family and friends. Hopefully, however, the 28 will not have died in vain if proper action is taken. Yesterday is a reminder that we need better gun-control, better sociopath control but perhaps most importantly, better self-control.
In the meantime, I will pray for a better today and tomorrow than yesterday. Enough is enough.