Sunday, March 23, 2008

What Hath We Wrought?

Note: originally published on my Word Press blog February 15, 2008

I felt the need to write this down while the subject matter was still fresh in everyone’s minds, what with the recent shooting by a former student. The news wires and the blogosphere alike are already working feverishly to find solutions to what is increasingly being referred to as an “epidemic”. I maintain that solutions may prove to be elusive since I also maintain that we created the problem in the first place.

Since the very first moment that Man attained cognitive reasoning he has strived to improve virtually everything around him. There are those who would argue that the effort has not been without fault and collateral damage, and I would agree. Man was not designed to be perfect and we have no business trying to achieve perfection in an inarguably chaotic environment, but it seems we will never learn.

Baby Boomers grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons. Most of us suffered no ill effects from the “carnage” we witnessed as Bugs Bunny shot Yosemite Sam in the face point blank with a cannon. More importantly, none of us ever thought that it would be a good idea to try the same on our friends. We had rules we lived by and were well grounded in them. More important still is the fact that our parents strictly enforced those rules, and they were backed up by the neighbors, whom we feared equally as much as our parents.

In this litigious society we have conjured, it is incredibly ironic that some Boomers now insist that “it takes a village” to raise a child. I can say with certainty that if one of “the villagers” today attempted discipline such as I received at the hands of Mrs. Carey from across the street, they would be arrested and incarcerated for child abuse. Their own children would subsequently live in squallor in the wake of the massive multi-million dollar lawsuits that would ensue.

We have sought perfection by removing the stigma of the loser in making winners and losers terms that no longer apply. If one child loses, his self esteem may be impaired. At the same time, we drill into our childrens’ psyches the need to excel at studies. Why? So that they become successful in life. Is it any wonder that they are mentally discombobulated?

Add to all of this the fact that we have become so paranoid about letting the kids out to play, as we did as children, that we keep them indoors and give them “safe” activities like virtually shooting virtual people on the TV monitors through the wonders of X-Box. Discombobulated just made the leap to psychotic, combined with a dose of desensitization to violence. What a formula.

What we have accomplished through our arrogant social engineering endeavors since the 1980’s is evidenced by the violence we have seen perpetrated by young adults, to a certain degree, and teenagers to a larger degree. We have removed “personal responsibility” from the vocabulary and the societal conciousness of parents and children alike. So what we have now is a generation of people who feel entitled to success while expecting immunity from any form of competition, and they are angry when the formula does not work.

Oddly, while they seemingly exhibit all the signs of mental incapacity, they are still savvy enough to know where to strike. They are deranged enough to kill wantonly and yet they possess the understanding that only they will be the bearer of firearms in a “gun-free” zone. Competition removed coupled with guaranteed “success”.

Every facet of authority and punditry is engaged in a combined effort to “fix” the problems presented by these rampant killings. The methods they propose will only make matters worse. They are still in pursuit of perfection.

My solution is to get the kids out playing. Let them fend for themselves in the schoolyards, learning how to deal with the harsh realities life serves up. Let them learn how to win, and how to get over loss. And for God’s sake, let them experience a well-intentioned ear-tug from Mrs. Carey.

And perhaps the most important tool we can utilize to expedite a return to a more simple time; if we let the kids out to play, make the punishment for anyone who would harm them swift and most severe. Make it clear that we are seeking a return to better days and anyone who attempts to impede that “progress” will be harshly dealt with.

The existence of guns is not the problem and therefore, removing them will not be an effective corrective measure. That much should be obvious by now. No, what is needed is a correction in the mindset of the kids, an undoing of the damage we have done.

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