My heart goes out today to the families that were impacted by the school shooting in Connecticut. I read the headlines and started to cry. There were nearly twenty children that were killed today and hundreds of others that are forever changed. I am the father of four elementary school children. I like that they live in an innocent time and place. They play football and tag on recess. Today I am going with my son to release salmon that were raised from the hatchery. Simple times like this should not be rare. A school full of children lost their innocence today and will have memories of an act of pure evil that will last a lifetime.
It is sad that we live in a world that celebrates violence, war, and mocks morality. Violent video games with 3D reality, movies with graphic violence and shocking music lyrics prevail. Two parent families and church attendance are diminishing. Commercials on television tell us how miracle pharmaceuticals will solve all our problems so we medicate our children and ourselves. Hours of television and interactive video games are raising our children and overt sexuality is celebrated and esteemed. As this goes on we see more violent acts and acceptance of immorality. We watch on with shock as schools and shopping malls are at the center of gun violence.
Does the media reflect the inherent violence in society or does it amplify this process. As a parent I can see where each generation fears for the next. A slowly deviating society is not noticed without the perspective of 25 or 30 years. Parents have always disapproved of the music and language witnessed and used by our children. Kids accept these situations as normal, and as parents we want to be accepted and don’t want to seem old fashioned so we allow and sometimes embrace popular culture. After all everyone’s doing it. I cannot imagine what my grandparents would think if they watched an evening of television, an action movie or even walked down the halls in many of the public schools. Others would hear their thoughts and think that they don’t understand and are just old fashioned. Perhaps the humility of generations past would lead them to shake their heads in disapproval and quietly walk away.
They say that guns don’t kill but I would disagree with that statement. Guns kill when they are in the hands of a killer. I don’t think the answer to situations like this is to offer more regulations and laws – there are enough already and they don’t work or are not applied. A gun didn’t take down the Federal building in Oklahoma or drop the trade center buildings. Violent people with a desire to kill will find a way. I also think the popular culture’s infatuation with guns, gangs, drugs and violence does have an impact. The combination of guns and a culture celebrating what many would call evil will be reflected in children and young adults struggling to find a place in this confusing world.
The sermon in church on Sunday was very interesting and applicable to these situations. The Catholic Church is currently feeling strains from recent election defeats on social issues close to the church. According to my interpretation they realize that buying ads and looking to affect a movement on a major scale is perhaps futile. The new focus is on impacting the members of the church community. There is wisdom in this approach that we can all embrace. Virtues should be taught and celebrated. Hard work, personal responsibility, selfless service of others, the core family, charity and respect of others are important lessons to be passed on to children. There is so much emphasis on getting ahead and on our own self rather than others. People feel that life needs to be fair and we are owed something. Many are willing to compromise their values because everyone is doing the same thing. This last month Zig Ziglar passed away. He taught us that if we help enough other people get what they want then we will be able to get what we want. The heart of this statement is helping others first. The virtues mentioned above reflect a focus on being your best regardless of the result. Successful people are made through hard work and even sometimes failure. Success is rarely the result of little effort or lack of commitment. These are lessons that need to be re-established and taught to the next generation.
The farther we deviate from the things that have helped us become a strong country, (I am not speaking about our military) the weaker we become. I fear for future generations and where this all leads. I think rather than more gun regulation we need to start teaching the value of life and relationships; the value of individuals AND cooperation; the value of living for something bigger than yourself; recognition that if you live and celebrate violence and intolerance that you will get more; we need to take the lead in creating a movement in the circles that we are able influence.
Too often people tend to blame others for their results or situation. The reality is that others are rarely the reason for your decisions. Individual responsibility needs to be taught and through this responsibility we can establish accountability. I fear that the governing officials will feel the need to respond to these travesties. Maybe they will set up TSA checkpoints at the schools or outlaw guns within ten miles of a school. These are typical responses that will actually do very little to impact the cause of senseless acts of violence. As a country we will trade our liberty for a feeling of security and then blindly look the other ways as we celebrate the decay of our society.
I hope that anyone that reads this will think about the moral decay that we are experiencing and then take a look at your sphere of influence. Perhaps we may not be able to change the entire country – but possibly we can change the area where we live and maybe someday our cities will be more like Mayberry rather than New Jack City. I hope that the continued assault on our families, children and values awaken our senses. In the mean time I will be celebrating an enjoyable weekend spending time with my family and perhaps I will even be able to reinforce some virtues that will be beneficial to their future.
With a heavy heart,