Recently, a friend and our wives were discussing a troubling subject that has been on almost everyone's mind, the tragic violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School. We agreed that the deaths of innocent young children doesn't just break your heart, it crushes. Your whole being reviles at the thought of these children and their teacher/protectors being brutally murdered. The grief of families, friends and a whole nation is unfathomable.
Our president and other leaders have spoken compassionately about the tragedy and called for effective changes. The question is, what do we change and how? Our friends agreed that stricter gun laws alone won't fix the problem; the roots of the problem must be known and dealt with.
We blame the state of our mental health system, on lax security in schools and public places, on poor parenting and an uncaring public.
These all are in the mix of secondary causes; the root cause is seldom mentioned or understood. The sickness in our society is in large part due to a fascination with violence which is purveyed and promoted through various "entertainment" venues.
We ignore the truth of the axiom "evil begets evil and violence begets violence" and turn our heads to the fact that violence can be taught through simulation.
Simulation is a useful teaching tool, law enforcement and the military use it all the time, we use it to learn to fly an airplane, to learn a new language, to sell a product and to learn medical techniques.
Why then would you expect a different result from those who feast on "games" that simulate mass killing and blowing people up with explosives or science fiction weapons?
There are ideas being formulated right now to restrict guns, improve mental health care, increase security in schools and public places and no doubt some of these ideas will find their way to becoming law; some people will feel a little safer, lawmakers will congratulate themselves on having done something, and life will go on -- until the next tragic event.
Unless we take action to work on the root causes of a national sickness, progress will be elusive. Attempts to place meaningful restrictions on violence will meet with formidable responses from the entertainment industry; cries of First Amendment violation will be heard from everyone who benefits from infecting our youth with the virus of violence addiction. Lobbyistswill be paid huge sums of money to influence lawmakers and the sickness in our society will go untreated.
This may sound like a hopeless cause, and it is, unless you and I are heard from; unless our voices speak loudly to our government officials; unless we demand an end to the unfettered access to our youth by those whose only motivation is to benefit from the promotion of violence simulation.
Don't make the mistake of thinking this will be an easy or quick battle, it will not. The chances of failure are high given our lack of concentration or purpose in a frantic society.
It may be that we have not reached the saturation point of violent behavior, time will tell. We may become like the people of some Middle Eastern countries who have lived with suicide bombings, genocide, and killing of innocents on a much larger scale and for a longer period of time than what we experienced at Sandy Hook and other places.
Perhaps we will become as desensitized as they are to our own mass murders that occur all too frequently. As long as we continue to train the youth of this country through simulation we will have more real life incidents that eventually will desensitize us all.
It has been suggested that acts of kindness are useful in countering violence. Our friends come visit us on a regular basis, they are always kind and caring even though they both work full time, and have busy lives. They make a difference in our lives.
If you have friends like this then you too are lucky. And maybe if practiced enough, the truth of this suggestion will bear fruit.
Reynolds lives in Pleasant View.