Newtown

Still grading. I’d probably be done if I hadn’t caught news of the Newtown massacre yesterday and then allowed myself to get sucked into the Twitter cycle of stupidity and recrimination. But I did find a bit of sanity there, in the words of people like Bill McKibben and Philip Bump and Adam Gopnik.

Gun massacres have happened many times in many countries, and in every other country, gun laws have been tightened to reflect the tragedy and the tragic knowledge of its citizens afterward. In every other country, gun massacres have subsequently become rare. In America alone, gun massacres, most often of children, happen with hideous regularity, and they happen with hideous regularity because guns are hideously and regularly available.

Apparently the moron Huckabee said those twenty “beautiful little kids” whose lives were extinguished yesterday were part of the price we must pay for separating church from state. It would probably be best to ignore such idiocy, not dignify it with even the barest acknowledgement.

Trouble is, when verbal public ignorance is left unchallenged it gets repeated and absorbed by the general unblinking fox-watching public. And it turns up in the papers I grade.

So I’m just going to say this to Mike and his pals, and then I’ll try going back to ignoring them:

It’s true (though not in the way you intend), if a deity of the sort you want us to worship in our schools were present there, and were really responsive to the prayers of the faithful, Newtown and all the other heartbreaking mass killings made in the U.S.A. would not have happened. Such a benevolent omni-propertied force would not have allowed it, in the name of human free will or anything else.

But they did happen, and absent the “meaningful action” we always just talk about, in the aftermath of these sickeningly frequent atrocities, they will again. And this depressing cycle will repeat, until we or our lucky descendants finally demand a plan  that reflects the sense and values of parents and others who love and teach and nurture our children and not those of a demented murderous unfathomable unthinkable “god.” Signing a petition is the very least we must do.

 

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2 Responses to “Newtown”

  1. 3D Eye Says:

    My sympathies to you, your fellow citizens, and everyone around the world who suffers as a result of violent and murderous conduct.

    It’s not my place to suggest that gun control would be a good thing, although I know that I feel relief that guns are relatively scarce in the UK, as are deaths caused by guns. Criminals in this country can certainly obtain guns if they choose to, obviously through illegal channels, but it’s not really the criminals that scare me – it’s the thought that anyone who’s psychopathic, or angry, or holds a grudge, might be able to casually and easily pick up a gun and use it to express their murderous feelings in a moment of extreme passion or during a psychotic episode. I thank goodness this is not the case.

    I’ll say nothing about the notion that gun crime might cease if schools were allowed to indoctrinate children with religion. Clearly this is a crazy idea. In the UK there are thousands of schools run by religious organisations and it’s not at all clear to me that making children take part in religious rituals in itself reduces, let alone eliminates, violent attitudes and behaviour.

    Change has to come from within. My own school, where I was the head for 20 years, was non-secular but was an oasis of peace and calm in an inner-city setting where criminal behaviour was fairly rife on the surrounding streets and estates. Children learnt to respect themselves and to respect other people through continuous dialogue about human values, and through continuous practice of human virtues. The adults were consistent role models of caring, respectful and virtuous behavior. ‘Spiritual’ intelligence has to be ‘caught’ as well as ‘taught’.

    The same is true of the need to develop ‘social’ intelligence and human empathy through the daily practice of cooperation, collaboration and communication. Clearly the creation of such a school culture is not easy in environments where the emphasis is on competition and on success through individual aggressive striving. Change can only be gradual, no matter what lawmakers do to make gun crime more difficult. Ultimately it will be parents and teachers and real education for peace, non-violence, emotional literacy and for all of the intelligences that will make a difference.

    My best wishes to you for a peaceful and enjoyable holiday season. Many thanks for all your interesting, stimulating and frequently amusing posts.
    Gary

  2. osopher Says:

    Gary, thank you for your kind, thoughtful, and insightful comments. The culture of violence here must be very puzzling from your vantage, and the prattling of our politician-pundits tragicomic. I agree of course, expanded education and emotional intelligence are crucial. The dismantling of the NRA wouldn’t hurt either.

    Best wishes to you and yours as well!

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