16 December 2012

The Unified One True Answer to School Shootings, Violence & Firearms. (Part 1)

Just kidding.

Every hand with a pen and pharnyx with vocal cords has spent the last 48 hours giving us The Obvious Truth.

Just look anywhere. But it’s funny how all these truths are so inconsistent.

“Part 1" is in the title because no poor scribe can touch all the questions buzzing about, let alone any possible analyses or solutions. Today will be directed at musings, perhaps followed by other installments. 

Beats me.

The musings:

So many people want a piece of the tragic action, and want to feel deep personal loss or rather, like it’s a good movie, to suspend the reality of their real lives to wallow in some distant cathartic angst or grief.

Okay. 20 children were killed. So were several adult heroes. Who needs our assurance that we see this as tragedy? If someone is silent (contemplative?), have they paid their suffering dues?

Sadness is fine. “Golly, I’m sad.” That’s a part of life.

For that matter, golly, I’m sad.

But we should not be claiming a fresh and original piece of the clump of grief which has hit Connecticut. It’s not ours to claim. We have a duty to society to consider it, consider circumstances which lead to any bad things that happen, but it is merely self-indulgent to claim emotional disability over other people’s tragedies.

I’m sure as I write this on Sunday that in many places of worship, prayers are being offered for the victims and families. I hope that in many, the police, fire, EMS and other responders are remembered. This was their nightmare scenario, too. Likewise the neighbors have been shaken to the core.

I also hope that there are places of worship where prayers have been offered up for the victims of violence generally and about the conditions that lead to violence - maybe even for the wisdom to figure out what those conditions are.

Maybe God has given us a small test here: I wonder who is praying for the shooter? Not me, by the way. And I don’t assign any positive or negative index to that. It just is what it is.

Bear in mind this Sunday the teachings found in the book of James:

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?  Can faith save him?  If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?  Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.  You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!   But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?  (James 2:14-20)

No, this is not a religious piece. This is musings, remember? Nor does anyone have to accept the quote from James as divinely inspired or even accurately translated.

Does it make sense? Does it stand on its own? Is it a logical inclusion that great wishes – even great angst – are just so many hummingbird feathers unless and until someone does something?

Modern day “prophet” Larry Winget puts it a similar thought in a short and pithy way: “Don’t let your mouth write a check that your ass can’t cash.”

Also, we have to transition into what that something to do will be. Some sudden reaction to a single event is not a guarantee to create a workable solution and especially not to avoid unintended consequences.

If we identify the issues publicized (not created) with the excuse of the Connecticut school shooting as firearms PERIOD, we’re indulging in reactive and dangerously limited thinking.

Certainly, someone who is actively homicidally crazy and obtained any efficient, high-capacity weapon, that’s a problem. If that’s the problem we address and call it a day, I really have to wonder how smart we really are.

Ditching God?

A lot of the press is going really batshit over a calm and thoughtful give-and-take with former Gov. Mike Huckabee, who is a pastor. At the end of a thoughtful piece, he asked rhetorically why we wondered about God letting school shootings happen (the so-called theodicy question) when we had long excluded God from the schools.

If you read that literally, i.e., if that school and others in Connecticut prayed regularly, the incident would not have happened, the logic does not connect.

It sounded more to this scribe like a general observation.

God – the Christian, the Jewish, the Islamic, or the humanist collection of positive values is not nearly so much in evidence in American education as in  “The Good Old Days.”

Ah, a reference to “Good Old Days.” There is an invitation to irrational argument.  “The good old days when women could not work, when racial segregation was everywhere, McCarthy, polio…”

It’s as much a mistake to reject old ways which worked as to worship old ways which didn’t.

One of the old ways taught in schools that worked was the Golden Rule.   That was fine teaching. Must that be taught as Christian? Not in the “Here’s what the true God system says, children,” sense. 

But what a conversation starter!  What a lesson starter is “In the Bible, Jesus said, ‘Do to other people like you want them to do to you.’ – let’s discuss that.”

“Is that a good idea? Why? How would you feel if someone took your bike?”

Whatever tag you put on it, morality education, ethics education, or education in honorable behavior, it belongs in schools. Of course that sort of education is the parents’ job.

But fully half of parents aren’t doing their job as parents.

Our schools have been colluding with lots and lots of other elements in society in a multi-decade cultural suicide pact.

At the very least, addressing that has to be a part of the solution.

Silent dispatches:

Tap, tap, tap  – – Is this thing on?

This is been the longest hiatus in these dispatches for the past couple of years.

And the reason:  Life? The universe?  Nah.  Nothing so dramatic. Your irregular scribe has been beset with some minor health issues which have reduced “reserve capacity.” And clients, cases and courts have to come first.

It’s been rather like hiking in mud.  It takes more effort to attain ordinary results.

That being said, this scribe will not enumerate any little ailments. That’s unnecessary and quite boring.

These dispatches will appear with normal frequency, we hope. The proof will be in what the future brings.

Well, that’s nothing new, is it?


Jim N said...

Hey Roger,

It's good to see you back in print. Though, hearing about "minor" health problems is not good. Are things improving?

Your post raises the need to exercise caution in how we respond to the recent outbreak of another mass murder episode in our country. I don't see any justification for anyone other than official military personnel to have access to the kinds of weapons that can gun down so many in seconds. Especially, since the "mind" of American society seems to have been so heavily influenced by feelings dictating actions--never mind rational and ethical considerations--I wonder about wide access to mowing-down killing machines. Rather than thinking things through, we seem to feel justified in allowing emotionality dictate our actions.

Evidently Huckabee went further during a broadcast on Fox on Sunday than the original response you cited. I don't watch Fox so I didn't see it, but some outlets are suggesting that his indictment now includes gays, same-sex marriage, etc., etc., etc. Typical "good ole American judgmental pentecostalism."

Anonymous said...

so good to read something sensible and true for a change!