Two years ago today, there was a tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It seems to be time we take another look at that tragedy as school shootings and deaths continue to happen. This was written soon after the Sandy Hook shootings:
Taking desperate measures
Sometimes we are just at wit’s end. The business of living gets so difficult that a feeling of exasperation washes over us. What do you do in these moments? What do you say? What will relieve the stress? Some people squeeze foam rubber toys. Others go for long walks or get in their cars and go for long rides. Some might lash out at friends or family although they may not mean to do so.
English: A portrait engraved for a posthumous edition of Rousseau’s works, after an original by Angelique Briceau. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In moments of deep frustration I may have snapped at someone when I should not have. I recall moments when I was not my best. I usually feel quite bad if I raise my voice or say mean things. People may not believe it at times when I am upset, but I really do try to keep my emotions in check. What I say and how I react should be a measure of true feeling, and not some instant burst of emotion. It is hard to live a carefully measured life. It is an emotional world and many of us live an emotional life for which we have no good explanation.
I recently watched the fine PBS series called “This emotional life.” It examined the things that make us happy or sad, feel loved or unloved. It also took a look at what makes us angry. It showed how some react to certain situations with anger and even violence. Interestingly, some people who exhibited antisocial behavior were not nurtured properly as children. They may have gone without the touch of a parent or loved one with whom they could bond. An interesting case of an adopted boy who had trouble accepting the love of his parents was also one where the boy lacked attention and personal care from others. His orphanage had no time for that. It took counselling and therapy to try to get him to love his parents back. Being or feeling rejected even as young as infancy can have a terrible long-term effect. In the final analysis however, we all want to love and be loved. We all want to be happy, what ever that entails. Although we can not really define it, we may spend a lifetime seeking happiness or fulfillment.
At some point most of us do stupid things out of anger that we regret. We may or may not apologize for these transgressions. We may or may not lose a friend over it. We may or may not do something bordering on criminal. Most of us will stop short of that, and that is what keeps society rolling along, even if on a somewhat wobbly tilt. Then there are the few who have lost control. Perhaps they did not get nurtured in the proper way. Perhaps they did not benefit from good examples in their lives. Perhaps there was a chemical imbalance in the brain that needed relief through modern pharmaceuticals. Perhaps we just don’t know.
This week we were ripped apart by this: Charlotte Bacon, 6. Daniel Barden, 7. Olivia Engel, 6. Josephine Gay, 7. Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6. Dylan Hockley, 6. Madeleine F. Hsu, 6. Catherine V. Hubbard, 6. Chase Kowalski, 7. Jesse Lewis, 6. James Mattioli, 6. Grace McDonnell, 7. Emilie Parker, 6. Jack Pinto, 6. Noah Pozner, 6. Caroline Previdi, 6. Jessica Rekos, 6. Avielle Richman, 6. Benjamin Wheeler, 6. Allison N. Wyatt, 6. These are grade school children and their ages. They are innocents. We do not know what they would have grown up to be. Perhaps one would grow up to find a cure for a form of cancer. Another may have taught children to be better people. There could have been a girl here that would be leader of the free world. There may even have been a boy who would have mediated a peace in the Middle East. We will never know. Why? We may never know because there was a boy who grew up unhappy and troubled. Something happened that made his emotional life spin out of control. Before taking his own life, he robbed many families of the most precious thing they had: their children.
The horrible nightmare that fell on a late fall day in a Connecticut school will lead to many hours of debate on gun control. How did this troubled young man get these guns? Who sold him the ammunition? Were the proper background checks performed? Did he have the proper permits? Some will listen to the rhetoric and the subtle, or not so subtle, political undertones and wonder, “are we missing the point here?” While the debate will rage on until it fades away in talk of the pending fiscal cliff, the college Bowl season, or New Year’s Rocking Eve, will the actual issue ever be addressed? What was it in this man’s life that drove him to such desperate measures?
While states and the federal government contemplate budget cuts that slash funds to mental health facilities and critical medical and psychological research, should we not ask where our priorities lie? More police and stricter laws do not necessarily lead to less crime and punishment. We need to be less concerned about the aftermath and more concerned about prevention. I think back to This Emotional Life and the adopted child who was not given love as a child. Although he was only a few years old when adopted, he needed a tremendous amount of help to get past the lack of love a child needs in early development.
When we consider providing for domestic tranquility, let us carefully consider what it will take to insure that as many children as possible grow up with the love and care that they need. Yes, I know many will come forward to claim that it is not the role of any level of government to interfere with a family or tell people how to raise children, but is it better than to wait to punish those who commit horrendous acts upon our society? It seems that when we formed this nation we also agreed to a social contract with government. It is one well rooted in the philosophy of such thinkers as John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. We made a deal with the government to protect and defend, to nurture and preserve our freedom. One concept of government is to help provide a peaceful society that brings education and culture to all. Another concept is to arm ourselves against one another and execute those who do not follow the laws. Which society will you have?