vendredi, octobre 24, 2014

Whose life is it anyway?

It's time, I thought as I trod up and down on the Stairmaster.  Time to talk to the superintendent, or the headmaster.

But that's crazy, another voice said. Nothing like mass murder by a depressed or an enraged student would ever happen at my son's high school.

I'm pretty sure that the teachers, the administrators, the kids at Marysville-Pilchuck High School never thought that their homecoming prince would stride into the cafeteria, kill a fellow student, wound four other students, and turn the gun on himself.

We don't know where he got the gun.  Given that he was probably not more than 15, he might have taken it out of his father's closet, or known where dad (or mom) kept the key. 

I have neighbors who have guns for target-shooting and hunting.   I suspect that other people in our quiet exurban community have them. But I also know that the percentage of people who own these lethal weapons continues to decline.  

Yet, paradoxically, we live in a country where it has become easier and easier to carry guns in public, to take them into grocery stores and national parks, to buy as many as we can stuff into our closet - to let nine year old girls onto target ranges.

And there are enough people who believe that President Obama (timorous about the gun lobby) and the Democrats (many of whom are huge gun-rights advocates wholly owned by the NRA) want to take their guns away (abject stupidity) so that, massacre after massacre, nothing seems to change.

But it's not just guns. Guns are a symptom of a much larger problem. From video games to movies to the abuse that goes on behind closed doors, we marinate in violence.  In colleges, hazing rituals can kill. .

Some call it freedom.  But is a nine-year old who accidentally kills her instructor on a rifle range free?  Are the students of Marysville free? Is my family free when we have to game the odds that the irate driver behind us or the guy in the movie theater arguing with the usher might have a handgun holstered under his shirt?

Perhaps we need to rethink our definitions of freedom.

I'll tell you one thing.

I'm darned tired of seeing weeping children on a playground, clutching the hands of their parents. The pain in their faces sears my soul, as it perhaps does yours, too. 

Sick of hearing about policemen and sheriff's deputies mowed down by madmen (good men with guns who never had a chance). 

What's perhaps most frightening is what it says about us - sheepish and angry, defiant or ashamed, divided between those who want to be the biggest bully on the block and those who are sick of being bullied.

I don't want our kids to think we have to live like this. 

Or that they might, just by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, have the terrible misfortune to die that way. 

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