One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other.
Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals
Dave Griffey at Daffey Thoughts has some interesting thoughts about school shootings and the reaction to them:
These are just musings. They are not based on science or studies. Just me observing the nation in which I am raising my sons, and the current topic of guns and shootings and the desire to narrowly define the problem based on a single solution.
Did Roe v. Wade have an impact? The essence of RvW: ‘that is your definition of human life, not mine.’ Could generations raised in a nation coming to that conclusion be impacted by it? Especially after WWII? The entire point of legal abortion is that America has officially allowed us to define a human when we feel like it. I can’t help but think somehow it could be connected.
Divisions. We are in what many are now calling a Cold Civil War. Even the Cold War had hot casualties. My son said that the kids at Parkland will be asked to surrender their freedoms for safety. I said no, that’s wrong. We are a divided country. They will be asked to surrender someone else’s freedoms for their safety. Increasingly we don’t love our neighbors, but we fear and hate them, just as we feared or even hated the Soviets back in the day. We’re taught that they are the problem, and whatever happens to them? Eh. Being taught that our neighbors are our enemies must make an impact.
Rhetoric. In following up on the divisions, I’m hearing and seeing chilling things from the Gun Control advocates. Kill the NRA, exterminate the NRA, Wayne LaPierre is a seriel killer, Ban guns, Gun owners are next. And this is from the side ostensibly all bent out of shape by the violence and death at Parkland. And what’s worse, it’s par for the course. That level of rhetoric exists on the highest levels down about any one of a million topics today. It’s not just gun control activists of course, nor is such rhetoric new. Just note the irony of where some of it is coming from and how that must say something bigger about where we are versus where we might think we are.
Mental health. After Sandy Hook, I heard a fellow on the news (can’t remember the station) say something I’ve not forgotten. He said that mental health went through a massive overhaul between the 1950s and the 1970s, and in the 1980s, the mass shootings began. A connection? I think that’s a bigger elephant in the room than we’re admitting.
Isolate events as universals. Fact is, if you manipulate any data, you can arrive at different realities. Take the most dangerous cities in America off the burners, and America sounds much safer. Likewise, many of these school, or mass, shootings were based on specific sets of circumstances that might unpack the stats. Broward County looks to have dropped a dozen balls. That would be the same county where educated adults were perplexed by the unsolvable mysteries of the paper ballot. It could be connected.
American Craftsmanship a thing of the past. Speaking of dropping balls. Parkland is the latest case where warning signs were missed and the official safeguards that should have been triggered weren’t. There is a decline in quality in America overall, with everything from the latest household products to the Secret Service being plagued by incompetence and a general lack of care for quality. Could these have long range connections to any efficacy where new laws or even existing laws are concerned? If we’re becoming bumblers in making cabinets, will we do any better with laws?
Isolation through technology. When news came that Amazon was going to have a people-less store, one of those interviewed in the story said he was glad. A young fellow of likely college age, he was happy not to have to deal with people when he shops. Several of the students at Parkland guessed who the shooter was before it was announced. Could it be that we are becoming so isolated that all notions of human interaction are collapsing, and that is a problem?
Violence for fun. Popular culture of mass violence everywhere. I mean, look at what kids are playing at the age of 5. I know people who let 9 year olds play first person shooters, or watch rated R blood and guts movies. I remember seeing old black and white movies when I was little where someone died a particularity gruesome death, and it impacted me. What do kids today experience? Also the not so subtle Hollywood meme that people who are really bad (like people who disagree with me) have it coming.
Post-Christian. We were told America has no right to have a particular culture and moral basis, and so jettisoned it for whatever was nearby. Could it be that when we say people can make up their own realities those realities aren’t always going to be good?
Fortress Educationa. If we are talking about having to turn our schools into fortresses with armed teachers and guards, what is next? Barbed wire fences? Could it be we’ve turned a corner if this is what we have to do? And do we think it will really work?
Brats and narcissists. Kids are raised today to think that if someone disagrees with them, or doesn’t talk the way they want them to talk, or give them what they want, then that person is evil, hates them, and wants them dead, since the world exists to affirm them as gods of their own creation. Might that make an impact? Could kids raised in that manner develop unhealthy ways to react to a world that doesn’t treat them way the way they want?
R-E-S-P-E-C-T. What would Aretha Franklin say? Respect, like manners, common sense and common values, went out the window decades ago. Yes ma’am and no sir are as rare as Cuneiform word processors. We love it when all the cool people flip the middle one to all those not-cool types who aren’t like me. Could it be a nation almost proud to not respect anything or anyone and yet told to respect everyone (sometimes) is facing an identity crisis where dealing with people is concerned?
I don’t want to grow up! Rush Limbaugh once pointed out that the Baby Boomers were the first generation that never had to grow up. Hearkening back to the point about television and Boomers, could it be a generation of adult children raising more adult children who then raise another batch of children bent on staying children is not a healthy way for a society to function? Could kids surrounded by and raised by kids have unintended consequences?
It’s the Spirit stupid. Assuming for a minute that the Christian Faith is actually true, can we expect much from a nation that goes out of its way to purposefully and officially expel it from all corners of our public domains? That’s what the Soviets did, and look what happened there.
Radical individualism. In piggybacking on the narcissism above, could it be we’re seeing in individual form what the nationalism of the 20th century saw on the battlefield? As we allow people to think they are a nation unto themselves, that there is no ‘Our country’, and sure as hell not ‘their country’ (I call it the Kaepernick syndrome), could this be a logical extension of such a view – bad countries (people) warring with their neighbors?
As long as it doesn’t impact me. Following decades of misusing the notion of being judgmental (mainly, you can’t judge me, or obviously you’re wrong), and convincing people not to care unless it impacts them, could it be that we’ve let this go because it doesn’t impact most of us? After all, what is our approach to Islamic terrorism (only Islamic, not domestic) but ‘as long as terrorists kill other Americans, it’s the sacrifice I’m willing to make’? That must say something about us, and perhaps why we’re not really shaken to our foundations and willing to look at the hard realities when these tragedies strike.
The world. Let’s face it, the world is a violent place. It always has been. See the last century for an example. In the end, gun violence might simply be the logical extension of everything we’ve been doing as the world continues to change. Change it might, but many of the old characteristics – like sin – will remain and will find a way. Like my son says, to paraphrase Ian Malcolm, destruction will find a way.
What of legalized drugs? If, in fact, liberals insist that laws against illegal drugs haven’t helped the drug problems of our country, can we believe that more gun laws will do anything about the illegal use of guns in our country?
Car laws. Keeping with that thinking, we hear some gun owners point out that cars kill more people than guns. But we have laws regulating cars!, is the answer. Yes we do, and yet cars still kill more people than guns.
A little learning. A dangerous thing, according to Pope. We wage ideological warfare and I’m not always convinced we’re as smart about all the topics we spew about as we think we are. Armed with undergrad degrees and a semester of history 101, we suddenly become experts in every nook and cranny of human history – whenever convenient. I don’t think this causes a society of mass shootings, but could it be what hamstrings our ability to solve the problems? Or worse, makes us schmucks easily manipulated by those who see shootings as a step toward some political end?
All those careless gun owners. Guns are dangerous, look at the accidental shootings! I hear that if there is a story of an accidental shooting. Gun accidents are, given the tens of millions of gun owners, relatively few. Accidents happen, and you get the careless ones. But on the whole, those isolated YouTube videos that show someone doing something stupid with a gun don’t seem to fit the stats.
Wo ist Education? Speaking of a little learning. My wife was a teacher, and my undergrad was in secondary education. I had three boys go through public schools. Let me tell you, it’s a hot mess. And not just because of STEM scores. Half of what they teach is rubbish, the rest is based on teaching hatred and contempt for the Christian West, America, the latest designated ethnic groups, traditional values, and common sense notions like sex and babies are related or one’s genitals have something to do with gender – but we can all make up our happy worlds where everyone affirms our self-affirming affirmation of our self affirming selves! I wouldn’t let those working within the current train wreck of educational philosophy teach a dog, much less kids. Has to mean something.
Can we stop using the 33,000 killed by guns. There are so many parts to that stat, there are so many dimensions that don’t account for the numbers that are never mentioned. Like saying ‘Four years and 40 million dollars’, it’s a meme, not a fact, and if we care about the problem of violence, we’ll never misuse it again.
The Gun Cult! Please define. From what I can tell, this radical bunch of gun nuts is typically not involved in most of the mass shootings. Same with the dreaded militia (which is the cause of terrorism done in its name). In fact, the worst killing attributed to the dread American militia movement used a bomb, not guns.
Gun Violence versus Violence. Do we actually care? As horrific as they are, mass shootings account for a barely measurable number of overall murders in our country. While murder rates have gone down, they are still far too high. And yet not only do we hardly ever dwell on it, during the 2016 campaign, I heard the press insist things were getting hunky-dory. Well, not to those murdered and killed. Or do they not matter?
Stop comparing the US – to anyone. We are a unique nation. It does no good to pick out a dozen countries that help your case while ignoring other countries that don’t. And why don’t gun control activists ever cite nations like Mexico, but only reference decidedly white European nations to compare America to?
Raising kids. At the end of the day, it’s not just kids raising kids, but broken homes, fatherless boys, wacked out psychological theories and science that looks common sense parenting straight in the eyes then turns around wand walks the other way. I have no time to list the connections between broken homes and crime. Much less screwball theories of raising kids and crime.
Exploiting vs. Memorializing. If we are using a tragedy to advance certain solutions, then we should at least be able to demonstrate how those solutions would have prevented the tragedy in question. To me, that’s common sense. If not common decency.
Sucks to your thoughts and prayers. I just can’t help but think that when we’ve come to a point where a sizable chunk of our nation now insists prayer and God are only worth a dime if put second to a singular political policy, we’ve officially shuffled off this Christian coil. That so many Christians appear to agree only makes it that much clearer. See my point about the truth of the Spirit above.
Those are just thoughts I’ve had over the last couple days in no particular order and with no particular weight or purpose. Musings only. Just the idea that maybe the problem of school shooting, that didn’t happen when I was growing up, is beyond limiting a single type of gun. We can do that, of course. But I think it’s foolishness to think anything will ultimately change. The carnage might end up different, but it won’t change until other things change.