Unfortunately, America's news cycle has been dominated by yet another tragic mass shooting. This particular incident is of a truly horrible nature, because it took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School- in which very young children were senselessly slain.
Last night, I was at Sunday dinner over my parents' house. As I played with the kids, my preschool-age nephews & a little girl who is like family, my mind reeled at the thought of someone harming a defenseless child. How could someone so brutally destroy the innocent, joyful lives of those little kids?!?! I don't usually resort to vulgarities on this blog... but it's pretty goddamn nauseating.
The cynically realistic part of me recognizes that it's just one example of the endless atrocities and tragedies inherent in human existence. There are tens of thousands of children dying every day, from hunger alone. Life can be a horrible, messy business. However, you'd have to have a total lack of empathy to not be outraged by such a revolting act as happened in that school.
The main social issue currently rearing it's head, once again, is the debate over "gun control". Personally, I don't think the desire for the outright banning of legal firearms is ultimately as effective as gun safety & regulation.
Despite always having been a pacifist & not really a 'gun person', I recognize the possible need for deadly force- if used for defense. I think citizens should be able to own weapons & guns... stockpiles of them, if they want. Even though it can be argued that the rights of the 2nd Amendment apply only to well-regulated militias, I wouldn't interpret it that strictly. Even though alot of people may disagree, I think citizens should even be allowed to own heavy weaponry like assault rifles.
My main argument for widespread gun ownership is for self-defense of the population, against:
1) government tyranny 2) personal crime or 3) foreign invasion.
As long as we inhabit this dangerous physical realm, individuals & communities should have sufficient means to defend themselves from more heavily-armed threats.
I know the right-wingers are freaking out that Obama's coming to get their guns, but I don't think the extent of the paranoia is warranted. I'm not saying there aren't elements in the government who would love to see a disarmed populace. That's when the real "systems of control" would kick in. I just think there's so many friggin' guns out there, it would be tough for Big Brother to snatch 'em all up. Frankly, I don't think anybody really knows what the hell to do about the regulation of guns in this country!
I do think there needs to be some balance between legal ownership of firearms, & the inability for mentally impaired people to have access to them. Of course, there will never be a perfect system, but there is always room for improvement.
One thing that's always emphasized on the news, which I find to be a complete red herring, is the perennial idea that video games are the problem with society. I've played the most violent & depraved games out there. However, I have never had the urge to do physical harm to another human being. As I said before, I'm a pacifist at heart- no matter what crazy ass things I see on TV, in movies, or in video games. Sure, there are impressionable people out there who are easily influenced by certain media. Does that mean everyone else has to be scapegoated for it?
Like pretty much anything else... guns & video games are only hazardous when used by people who are mentally unstable in the first place.
The underlying problem which people are beginning to recognize, is our country's social schizophrenia, its treatment of mental disorders, & the lack of publicly available health care, in general.
One aspect of this nation's health problem is the over-medication of the country's youth, using psychoactive prescription drugs. The modern answer to dealing with people's troubled minds is to prescribe the appropriate pill. These synthetic substances are tested in clinical trials, but it's all a farce. There's no way you can truly predict all the toxic effects of a potent chemical cocktail- especially when it comes to altering the function of a undeveloped & unstable mind.
Some people think the answer is to have more God & prayer in schools. Mandating religion & prayer is not going to prevent a rampage like this. A murderous lunatic could be inspired by 'God's Will' as much as anything else, so belief in God won't stop a madman. Whatever you think it is,"God" is clearly not going to stop the madness, either... despite any prayers that might be offered. Nobody's keeping kids from praying in their own heart while they're in school. They can go to their respective religious services or gatherings outside of the classroom to find spiritual community.
I'd prefer to see the widespread utilization of "Mindfulness Meditation" classes, as part of all health curriculum from K-12. I would also like for the government to subsidize free lessons at community colleges or libraries. It would be the best investment the government ever made. Meditation classes do not need to be connected to spiritual content at all, in order to be effective at bringing peace of mind.
Mindfulness is simply the practice of quieting the mind & cultivating self-awareness.
This type of instruction would go a long way to giving people of all ages techniques to soothe the chaos in their mind.
Coincidentally, I just came across this NY Times article about meditative practice:
There will NEVER be perfect, universal peace in this corporeal world.
This is a harsh truth.
However- if we can provide more effective mental health care & tools for self-improvement to individuals, society at large will be less likely to suffer these kind of preventable tragic events.
There are many people in the world suffering greatly. Some are simply unable to cope with the dissonant realities being perceived by their senses & mind. No healthy person can contemplate the depths of madness that would lead a person to carry out something so evil.
Thankfully, this kind of behavior is still an anomaly. We can hope that these tragedies force people to confront these big issues that need to be addressed. It's only through awareness, intelligent debate, and the open sharing of solutions that society can overcome its many serious problems.