Anyone who actually reads this blog knows that on Fridays I post my Awesome of the Week. This is an excuse for me to pull some awesome or funny or awesfunny thing off the internet (Reddit) and post it for “the world” to see. For those who know this, you may have noticed that I didn’t post anything on Friday at all. Aside from my usual forgetfulness, the real reason was that Friday was not an awesome day.
By now, you have no doubt seen the coverage or the deeper coverage or the in-depth coverage of the events that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary school. If you turn on the news, there it is. The way I heard about the events was by flipping to the radio while waiting in the car when my daughter finally fell asleep to Beyonce and hearing a number of commentators discussing the events on MPR.
I can say that I am disgusted and frightened and saddened and all the other things that come along with this, but if I didn’t feel those ways I would be a sociopath, and I’m not a sociopath. As a father, one of the strongest emotions I feel is sadness for the families and for those who were lost. Aside from that, I feel anger and frustration.
These two feelings are due to many things. One of these is that all day today my Facebook feed was filled with posts discussing the reasons why this event gives license to the idea of teachers carrying guns at school. As if more guns could possibly be the solution. The others suggest that this happened because God is not allowed in public schools which is ridiculous. God does not create morality. Morality comes form within a person and is developed in the upbringing of a child. People equate those of us atheists as being immoral and evil because we do not subscribe to any religious doctrine. I would make the argument that we are more moral because we think for ourselves and develop our own internal morality. It is not forced upon us by a body of men. It is a part of us. It is internal, not external.
There are two things to consider in the reaction to an event such as this. One of these is that violence only perpetuates violence. In a society that is responsible for violence worldwide (wars, gun manufacturing, media, etc.) we are not condemning violence, we are condoning it. We suggest that killing is wrong, yet it is done so often in a combat situation. How can killing ever be moral, even in reaction to another atrocity? As I’ve quoted Gandhi before, “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” I do not revel in the killing of another human being, nor will I ever. I do not support the death penalty. I do not support acts of war.
The second thing to consider is mental health. In the long run, banning guns countrywide would likely never completely solve the situation. It would likely change the circumstances, but there would still remain murder. As a species, we are so prone to competition, and violence amounts to nothing more. The way toward a safer country is to not stigmatize the concepts of mental health. So often does a person say that they are depressed but we suggest they just get over it, or shake it off. We do not treat these mental health problems with the same concern that we treat medical issues. We are a highly reactionary society whose population stands by the philosophy that when something goes wrong, medicine can fix it. Why can we not put more emphasis on preventative medicine, including preventative mental health care. We need to put more thought into how we can help to prevent such events from happening again. We need to help those who we think may need help to go get it.
Also, in the end we must stop focusing on these events with such media attention. By broadcasting every little element of such shootings, we give the next shooter the reassurance that once they kill so many people including themselves, they will live on in infamy. We need to turn our eyes away from the train wreck. In the end, the effort with which we report and search and read and talk about the details of these killings could very well be spent trying to figure out how to prevent another one from occurring. And maybe in the end, it will help to discourage another misguided and disturbed individual from following in the footsteps of those before them.