19 December 2012


The terrible tragedy in Newtown Connecticut leaves us stunned and at a loss for words, or at least it should. Unfortunately there are those who right away try to use this awful event to push an agenda of some kind, based on whatever previous predisposition they had, like the tone-deaf Michael Bloomberg. Now is not the time for political posturing, but rather for empathy for the immensely painful grief these parents and family members must be feeling at this time. Imagine being in the process of buying Christmas presents for these children with thoughts of their smiling faces only to be forced to experience the unbearable shock of losing them. It is not the kind of mourning that can end any time in the foreseeable future. My grandparents lost a child, which echoed down through the generations, and such things may never leave us. It is said that when his son died my grandfather buried his head in grief and never lifted it up again. The pain and overwhelming sense of loss is simply unimaginable to those of thus who have not experienced it. 

There is no simple answer as to how to prevent this kind of massacre. There are those who believe that guns are the problem, and that consequently regulation should be severely applied, or that they should be banned outright. I am no fan of guns and have never owned one, but stringent actions on this account will not ameliorate the situation. Connecticut has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, but these regulations did not prevent the incident in Newtown. Banning them totally is unrealistic because then only criminals would possess guns. Here in New York City it is virtually impossible to buy a gun legally, yet most of the murders that take place here are nevertheless committed with guns. Granted guns are not a good idea in a crowded metropolis like New York, but in rural areas the situation and attitude towards them is different. What makes sense in one place does not work in another, so there can’t be a single standard.  Then there is the possibility had someone been armed at the site a lot of the killing could have been prevented.

It is not possible to simply legislate such problems away, any more than we can legislate away mental illness. Mass murders of this sort represent a much deeper social pathology. Consider this: In the past, despite no regulation of guns and the widespread possession of firearms, even in the “wild west,” mass murder of this sort simply didn’t happen. We have only heard of them in the past fifty years or so, which ought to tell us something. Just what that is may not be completely clear. It could be attributable to the collapse of standards and traditional family life, which coincides with this period, along with the abandonment of any kind of moral code by the entertainment industry, as some claim. But the incessant sex and violence would only affect those who are not grounded in family values in the first place, (which might be a considerable population these days). People who are morally centered don’t do these things, but there is no easy way to get the rest to behave properly. 

Then there is the matter of evil, which clearly exists in our world. An even worse school massacre took place in Beslan Russia some years ago. It was the work of Chechen terrorists who deliberately targeted innocent children. This was, however, a strategic and coldly rational decision, designed to inflict maximum pain and suffering on the Russians. It was also totally evil in intent and outcome. Thus, people do not need to be “possessed” or out of their minds to commit evil deeds. All it takes is denial of the humanity of others. 

The purest evil was visited upon these innocent children and teachers. Evil cannot be prevented; it can only be vanquished. It comes down to hearts and minds. What we really need to do is to produce better people, and for that we need good parents rather than good government. 

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