America is unique.
Even today, in a world with many democracies, America is unique. We are unique in the level of personal freedom that each American enjoys. Among these freedoms is the right to keep and bear arms.
In most places around the globe, including places that are virtual slaughter houses, citizens do not have such freedom. Governments have, throughout history, taken the right to bear arms away from their citizens. But ordinary Americans are, almost alone among the world’s peoples, free to own and use guns and rifles.
I grew up in a household with several rifles and shotguns. I learned to use a rifle at a young age. I was also taught gun safety in a rather rigorous fashion by my Daddy.
I’ve never been a gun hobbyist, but I also never felt like jumping on the gun control band wagon. I consider the right to keep and bear arms a unique American freedom, one that matters.
I understand and sympathize with the fear that drives students to demand school safety. I think they’re right to demand safety in our schools. It’s ridiculous that they have to go to this extreme to be heard on the matter.
I don’t have any visceral objections to the changes in the law which have been discussed, even though a few of them are rather nonsensical. However, I don’t believe that the large demonstrations in support of them signify the kind of broad popular support that is necessary to push them through Congress. I know that any Oklahoma Congressman who voted for these laws would be out of a job, come November.
There are reasons President Trump won the election, and the absolute support for the right to keep and bear arms in most of America is one of them.
One major weakness in the push to use something called “gun control” as a blanket answer to school shootings is simply that it will not give us the safety we want. Gun control will not stop the killing.
It obviously will not affect terrorist mass murders, which routinely turn ordinary machinery and devices into weapons of mass destruction. It also won’t stop school shootings committed by suicidal young men. It can’t, because it doesn’t address the things that are creating and driving the killers.
Blaming an implement for the behavior of human beings is more than a little daft. We are living in a time of cultural child abuse, and that, not inanimate objects we’ve always had around us, is the cause of school shootings.
I think the reason we are so focused on the guns instead of the shooters is because the shooters and the shootings they engage in are a clear condemnation of the way we are living. They signify a breakdown in our methods of child-rearing that goes to the core of how we live and what we do with our lives.
We have, for several generations, treated our children like baggage we park wherever we can to free ourselves so that we can get back to the real business of our existence. The focus of our lives isn’t our faith, family and homes. Our lives are devoured by a constant push to get and spend.
Wordsworth said it with a poet’s tongue: In getting and spending we lay waste our powers … We give our hearts away, a sordid boon!
Christ the Lord said it with blunt authority; You cannot serve both God and Mammon.
I would add that if a society is built, as ours is, on the inhuman values of getting, spending and serving mammon, that society cannot avoid destroying large numbers of its children. Let’s consider for a moment what that means from a kid’s-eye-view.
Children today are often put in day care when they are a few weeks old. Long before they are able to sit up, they begin spending most of their lives in an impersonal, regimented environment where they are just one of many babies being cared for by people who don’t love them.
Then, when they are moving out of the toddler phase, they are placed in “pre-school.” This is to prepare them to conform to the extreme regimentation of public schools.
Not long after they master potty training they begin drills in their numbers, colors, alphabet and group behavior. They are taught, before they can do much more than walk, to sit still for long periods of time, line up when they are told, “share” with other children, and listen to long-winded monologues by teachers.
They learn to conform to group behavior before they develop their individual sense of self and their own interests.
We have expunged play from our children’s lives. They never, from the time they are born, have time for simple, puttering, self-discovering, self-actualizing play.
They have very little or no opportunity to just be with other children in free, healthy playtime and fantasy. Even their recreation is adult-oriented and managed.
Instead of tossing a ball around with other kids, children today are driven by their parents to soccer or little league, complete with uniforms, adult coaches and a schedule of games. The parents sit and watch while the babies compete in what is, once again, a regimented job of work rather than free and joyous play.
The single salient point in all this is that children’s lives are never their own. They are always, from their birth onward, objects to be acted upon and pushed into conformity to a particular shape and way of being that is oriented toward pleasing other people in the name of “success.”
Children who can’t march in step are trampled underfoot in a process of on-going failure, humiliation and alienation that begins when they are as young as three or four.
Our kids, from the start of their existence, live over-regimented, impersonal and limited lives that do not resemble true childhood. At the same time, their parents are chasing the buck.
Many parents in this nation must work two and three jobs, just to make ends meet. For every American parent who is working at a good job with living wages, health insurance, vacation time and — heaven-help-us — retirement benefits, there are many other Americans trying to survive on a series of McJobs that were, in generations past, the province of teens looking to pick up extra cash.
Day care, as bad as it is, costs too much for many American families. Their kids end up staying home alone from the time they are very little. Older kids care for younger kids. Far too many of our children are raising themselves and one another. The only real “guidance” they get comes from other kids.
Anyone who has read The Lord of the Flies knows how that ends. All you have to do is watch the news to see the result of the sadism that children practice on one another and the indifferent way that our institutional day care and schools allow it to go on.
School shootings are not the result of our freedom to keep and bear arms. We’ve had that freedom for 250 years, while these repeated school shootings are a relatively new phenomena.
School shootings are the result of subjecting our children to what amounts to regimented, society-wide child abuse. These shootings often have direct, traceable roots in the shooter’s history of being subjected to life-long sadism at the hands of other children and sometimes, their teachers, within the pressure cooker of our public schools.
Our public schools are factory environments designed to spit out workers bees, grist for the economic mill. The move to make them bigger and bigger, with appeals to economies of scale and saving money exacerbates the problem.
Our schools damage children. Our method of pushing them into educational regimentation when they are still toddlers intensifies the damage. The fact that our wages are so low that parents must leave their children at home alone while both of them work leaves the kids without family, security or love. They turn to one another because they don’t have parents to turn to instead.
On top of this, mom and dad are often divorced and at war with one another. Even worse, a lot of times there is no dad, not even an absentee dad. Many children today don’t even know who their fathers are.
Single parents behave like adolescents themselves with their revolving beds and on-going dramas about dating. Add a heavy dose of drugs and alcohol on top of that, and you have kids who are not only raising themselves, they are their parents’ confidents, support and caretakers.
We have reached the tipping point where second-generation abused children who grew up in this environment are now attempting to raise children of their own. They have no idea how to do it.
They didn’t experience a childhood of their own, never knew the security of a stable home life, and were put through the sausage factory of day-care-public-schooling-latch-key-kid-self-raising themselves. They can’t give what they can’t imagine, and they can not imagine what real family, stable home life and actual childhood are.
Our solution for this is to ignore it. We ignore how fractured and crazy people are becoming. We ignore that our children bully, molest, assault, batter, abuse and torture one another. We ignore the suicides, rapes, abortions, unwed births, constant lying, sexual assault and hysteria of our young.
The only thing that focuses our attention, albeit for a few days at a time, is a mass shooting in one of our schools.
Of course we continue to ignore the history of the phenomena, that repeated mass shootings in schools by students killing other students is a recent thing and not something that has gone on since our nation’s founding. We ignore the extreme loneliness, alienation and desperation so many of our children suffer.
What we focus on is the gun in the shooter’s hand.
We don’t want to fix the problem. We aren’t even willing to discuss the problem. What we want is a slogan and a law that will allow us to pretend that we’re addressing the situation, but which will not require either us or the powers-that-be to change.
Even that superficial level of concern doesn’t last. In our increasingly fractured society with its 24/7 news cycle, we lose interest in the most recent school shooting in a week or so and switch to the next thing.
Meanwhile, the damage to our children continues.
In all our ignoring, the most important thing we ignore is that children matter. Families matter. Home matters.
We’ve forgotten that. We do our best to re-write reality with pithy little quips about how “tough” children are. But children are vulnerable. Children are helpless. Children need love, security and stability the same way that plants need good soil, sunlight and water.
We like to say that children are our future. But along with all our ignoring, we tend to ignore the simple fact that they really are.