Sunday, July 22, 2012

Shootings in Colorado

On Thursday morning I flipped open my computer and opened to my home page, Facebook. I saw two posts about the shootings in Colorado.  I was in my bucolic Swiss apartment, peaceful, removed from anything remotely resembling violence, aggression or the evil of the world.  I was also seven hours ahead of the US so while most Americans were blissfully asleep, I watched the minute by minute evolution of the events of that night on CNN.

The first thing I thought as I watched this unfold thousands of miles away, was how soon would this event spiral into a platform for gun control, religious views and political firings.  Sadly, it was almost instantaneous.

News in America is all about the sensationalism.  If you have doubts about that statement, why do the news reporters (they cannot be called journalists) always find the least credible and unintelligent examples to relay the events from their unique view point?  

I am not discounting any of the experiences people in the theater that night witnessed.  It was horrific at the most basic level of evil.  Sadly, none of the events surprised me.  What does surprise me is we do not have more of these attacks.

American society is violent.  It is violent with a point the finger at someone or something else mentality.  This did not happen overnight.  It will not change by stricter gun control laws or blaming the presidential candidate.  It is not about the President's policies or an attack on Judeo Christian beliefs.  It was a sick man who reveled in the planning of a violent attack on an epic scale.  Our culture of violence comes at a price.  You cannot continue to be shocked by violence when it is the diet on which you are raised.  I have been living outside the US for three and a half years now so I am not familiar with recent movies for the most part.  However, a friend of mine posted an article about this film The Dark Knight from Jenny McCartney a journalist with the UK newspaper, The Telegraph.  The author of the article quotes, 

"If I were the parent who relented and took a 10-year-old child to seeThe Dark Knight, would I be sorry? Once again, you bet I would. It's different from other superhero films, as fans are quick to point out. Certainly, there are surprises in its swooping camera angles and darkened, ominous screen.  But the greatest surprise of all – even for me, after eight years spent working as a film critic – has been the sustained level of intensely sadistic brutality throughout the film."

Diane Sawyer from ABC news interviewed a young couple, victims of the attack in the story, Couple in Colorado Theater Shooting Escape with Baby and Toddler in Tow.  In the interview it shows the young couple holding their 4 month old infant, crying about what they had just experienced.  Never once does Diane Sawyer ask the question at the tip of my tongue during the entire interview, "Why are there children at the midnight showing of this film?"  Am I the only person who finds this abusive and neglectful on the part of the parents?  I am not a parent, however, I would venture to guess if you begin exposing your children at four months and four years to violence of this level and think nothing of the effect on their young psyches, wouldn't you be in turn possibly be raising the next shooter?  People shoot and kill when they have become numb to violence.  I live in a country where there were NO guns, yet 800,000 people were slaughtered with machetes by their neighbors, neighbors immune to violence, thinking nothing of hacking their next victim to pieces.  This young couple are idiots and we as a society who do not question this are dissolute.

My friend Sven (not his real name) has two teenage daughters.  I have known Sven for most of my adult life.  He was born and raised in Kansas.  We are both from the same era.  He lives in Colorado only a few miles from Columbine.  His babysitter years ago was a Columbine survivor.  His daughter, Margaret (also not real name) is a senior now.  She posted on her Facebook page about how she now understands why her parents are so strict.  She understands why they do not let her go to a midnight movie.  She relayed their sentiment nothing good happens after midnight.  This was the exact same thing my parents said to me 25 years ago when I would beg for a later than midnight curfew.  When Sven was visiting me in Rwanda a while back he received an email from Margaret asking if she could go rock climbing with some young men from her school.  Sven said, "No, not until I've met them and feel comfortable with their climbing skills and their characters."  Sven is a real parent.  

This couple interviewed are not.

I am thankful I have had the opportunity to step out of America and see it more objectively.  I love being an American and will always remain an American in heart, spirit and legally.  Yet I grieve for the country.  Until Americans start taking responsibility for their actions in all areas and stop blaming the government, their parents, their teachers, each other and religion these events will be more and more commonplace.  Gun control is not the answer.  Yes, I agree you should not be able to buy that much ammunition without question, however, the problem lies more in Americans attitude towards violence.  Stop thinking the information you feed your children doesn't matter, it does.  Turn off the television, unhook the video games, get invested in your children's lives, in your community, make dinner, eat together, worship together in the religion of your choosing (another taken for granted freedom) and be responsible.  Then and only then will the violence stop. my most humble opinion.

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