In the past fifteen years, certain schools have become more identified with a single tragic event, than for all of their good and accomplishments: Columbine, Virginia Tech, and now Sandy Hook. I don’t have to explain what happened in those locations—you already know. There are others—at least seven major school shootings and approximately 200 school shootings of any kind since 1997.
When I sat at my laptop this morning prepared to write about this, a thought popped in my head, which for some reason didn’t occur to me yesterday. The lost children in Newtown were between the ages of five and ten. My loving, goodhearted nephew is nine. What if this had happened to him? What would I be prepared to do?
After I fought through the tears, I didn’t come up with any reasonable answers to those questions. My only thought was I’d want the shooter to survive so that I could personally tear …
Perhaps it’s best not to get into that. Besides, what good would more violence do? Even if only hypothetical.
And being that the shooter took his own life, yet again, the family and friends of the victims are left lost. They can’t get the answers to the questions they have. Why? Why did you commit such an evil act? Why did you rip my baby from my life?
My heart goes out to all of the victim’s loved ones. May God give them the strength and courage they need to face each new day.
To say that the tragedy in Columbine back in 1999 was over-sensationalized by the media is an understatement. I believe how they descended upon the once peaceful town of Littleton, Colorado like vultures on roadside kill was detestable. There was not a stone left unturned. The lives of the victims’ families should not have been turned inside out and broadcast to the world like that. At least not in my opinion.
I believe that Columbine was a big part of why I stopped watching the news and reading the newspaper as much as I used to. That may be why I only heard about what happened in Newtown, Connecticut from an email by a family member. After that, I read about what had happened online, but stayed away from watching the news. Instead, I observed people’s reactions via Facebook. There were many passionate and heated discussions about what happened and different viewpoints on what could have caused another horrific shooting.
There were people pointing at violent video games as the culprit. Others untreated mental illness. Some insisted that we need to ban guns or provide better security for our school systems. And all these points may have some validity and can be argued by both sides until people are blue in the face. But when looking at solutions based on those issues, isn’t that the same as trying to cure a disease by addressing the symptoms, and not the disease itself?
I think that some people on Facebook hit the nail on the head—it’s a major downward change in family and societal values through recent generations that have allowed for the development of these psychopaths.
This theory reminded me of a passage in Flight From Fear, the Holocaust memoir, which I ghostwrote for Rabbi Samuel Cywiak:
The environment was already set for Hitler and the Nazis to come in and do horrific things to us.
Rabbi Cywiak is referring to the terrible anti-Semitism that had existed throughout Europe prior to the start of the Holocaust. Without it, Rabbi Cywiak believes, Adolf Hitler and the Nazis wouldn’t have had the inside assistance they needed to carry out his Master Plan.
Now, you may consider this comparison to be quite a stretch, but I’m not so sure. By eliminating core family values, sense of community, and God from everyday life, haven’t we essentially prepared the environment for such tragedies to take place? With the majority of marriages ending in divorce, causing more and more broken homes, do children’s priorities often get lost in the shuffle?
Look at what age children are being exposed to sex and violence. We know from a psychological point of view that young minds are very impressionable. Shocking and graphic images viewed at a young age can negatively affect a person for a lifetime. That coupled with parents being too busy or self-absorbed to sit down and explain these experiences with their children could possibly allow for some type of perversion to set in. Maybe the argument about violent video games is not to be taken lightly. At least there should be serious consideration about what age is appropriate for them to start playing them. Or watching violent movies. But it’s up to the parents to enforce these restrictions.
Look at what children have to look up to for role models. How many actresses and singers they enjoy and mimic and want to be like have multiple arrest records, sex tapes, and drug addictions? What message is that presenting to our children? Are parents able to make their children understand that those type of activities are not considered to be “cool.”
Look at how easy it is for children in this digital age to go out on the internet and view pornography or violence or read about topics they are not mature enough to truly understand. How many children own smart phones or tablets and can connect to the internet anywhere and any time? I know parents who monitor what their children can access, but I’m sure plenty parents don’t. And even the ones who do may not realize that their children find ways to access the naughty stuff when they’re not around.
It’s a scary technological age we live in right now, and I’m not sure what can be done, realistically, to reverse some of the damaging effects it has already caused. One thing I can recommend is to get your children out of the house, playing outside with children. Interacting, using their creativity. That’s what my generation did for fun. Video games were basic and we only got to play them for a short period of time. We didn’t get locked into a misunderstood adrenaline rush of mowing down people with a machine gun without remorse via a realistic first-person shooter video game. There were no smart phones or internet. We didn’t have access to graphic porn, other than the one crumpled nudie magazine that got passed around from kid to kid. We weren’t exposed to things that were overly shocking or graphic or violent. We played with sticks and stones, dirt and mud. Today, children are losing the innocence way too early.
I believe that each and every one of us needs to consider what we put out there that may influence other impressionable minds. Recently I published a short story of mine, The American Scream, to Kindle. I felt that the cover image I had selected was ideal for this particular story, which is a satirical take on the high-pressured suburban life and the pursuit of the elusive American Dream.
When an early draft of my cover was accidentally viewed by my nephew, who was only eight at the time. He had asked my sister: “Why is that man holding a gun to his head?”
My sister told him it was meant to be a joke. And he seemed to accept that answer. When she told me what happened, I kind of laughed it off, not thinking it was a big deal.
But now, I’m haunted by it.
This weekend I’ll be redesigning the cover.