Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Stigmas and Rifles and Evil, Oh My!

Five days have passed since twenty children and six adults were gunned down in Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. We probably haven't had enough time to wrap our heads around it and grieve, but the conversations have begun and we have to engage. What can we do to prevent this from happening again? I stressed already the importance of the second amendment and why a repeal is not up for discussion, now let's talk about prevention. I've been watching the news, reading blogs and twitter conversations and I see us making the same mistakes we make every time this happens.

First off, we need to stop blaming everything but the killer. The guns didn't make him do it, video games didn't make him do it, what ever mental illness he may or may not have had didn't make him do it, and his mother didn't make him do it. Yes, video games and movies have an impact on impressionable minds, but people make choices. Autism isn't a mental illness and it's not linked to this kind of violence, and while he had issues, we don't know what kind of issues. They didn't find any prescription drugs and we don't know if he was seeing a therapist. He may not have had a mental disorder, for all we know. He shot his mother in the face four times while she was sleeping. The question isn't what was wrong with him, but what was he angry about? While the last few mass murderers had depression or schizophrenia, we need to stop assuming mental illness is the problem because as a society we're very ignorant when it comes to mental illness. Sean Hannity on his Fox News show asked Joel Osteen if there was a difference between mental illness and evil. What kind of question is that?

We need to stop blaming other people for this young man's actions. We obviously didn't learn from Tucson when dumb liberals blamed Sarah Palin for the actions of an apolitical unmedicated schizophrenic. The NRA didn't tell Adam Lanza to shoot those kids, they didn't give him the guns to do it, nor do they advocate for this kind of behavior. Personal responsibility is an endangered species in our culture. It's almost like it's painful for us to admit that Adam Lanza made a choice, which brings me to my next point. We need to stop refusing to talk about the killer. Calling him a freak or any name or refusing to say his name is stupid. He's not Voldemort. It is important to memorialize the ones who died, but remembering the victims won't prevent this from happening again. The next Adam Lanza, and there will be a next one, doesn't care about his victims like we do. We need to remember Adam Lanza. It's always the same kind of kid: loner, socially awkward, angry, withdrawn, sad. In life we dismiss them and we do the same in death and the cycle just continues. We need to get know him, get to know his struggle, and only then can we recognize those characteristics in someone else or ourselves.

We need to stop acting with our emotions and think with logic. Adam Lanza acted with his emotions and people died. Calling for gun control or a ban on guns is done so out of emotion. Logical people know that gun control is not a logical option because it doesn't work. The kind of gun control liberals want would take guns away from law abiding citizens leaving them vulnerable to criminals who don't care about the law. James Holmes could have gone to any movie theater in Aurora, but he chose the only theater that was a gun free zone. What else constitutes a gun free zone? High schools, elementary schools, college campuses, post offices. It's no coincidence mass murderers pick gun free zones. We've done an assault weapons ban before in 1994. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris got the guns they used for Columbine illegally, and that was 1999. Adam Lanza tried to purchase a gun legally, but didn't want to do the waiting period so he took his mother's guns and killed her. Timothy McVeigh didn't use a gun when he bombed that building in Oklahoma City. He used fertilizer. The point I'm making is that where there's a will there's a way, and there's no law in existence or waiting in a congressman's brain that can stop that kind of determination.

We need to accept the existence of evil. I believe that our blaming video games and the NRA is our way, consciously or subconsciously, to keep from acknowledging that Adam Lanza is human and he made a conscious choice, despite whatever disabilities he may have had, to kill children. No one wants to believe that kind of evil exists, but it does. Acknowledging the existence of evil would force us to admit our own helplessness because, truthfully, there's very little we can do to prevent something like this from happening. All we can do is recognize the signs before people snap and put measures in place to prevent as much damage as possible. It is ignorant to think the President's signature on a bill would stop something like this from happening again, so we need to prepare for it.

We have got to educate people and ourselves on mental illness. What I have been hearing from liberals and conservatives alike the last few days is scary. Disarming the mentally ill is a bad idea. Do I need to explain the significance of the second amendment again? People with mental problems want to live normal lives, not be controlled by bureaucrats.  There are plenty of people who suffer from depression or bipolar disorder or schizophrenia and they own guns and they're not shooting people or themselves. This stigma and stereotype that mentally ill people are off kilter and waiting to explode needs to stop and it's only going to lead to harmful policies against the mentally ill.

Lastly, our culture has to change, and I'm not talking about video games and movies. We need to stop supporting organizations that push our kids to keep secrets from their parents (I'm looking at you, Planned Parenthood). We need to promote the importance of fatherhood and a two-parent home. Anti-bully movements are pointless if we don't teach our kids to show compassion for potential victims of bullying. We talk way too damn much and we need to start listening. A lot of these kids just want to be heard and feel like their problems matter. We need to support parents who have children with anti-social mental disorders and developmental disorders. We need to do more than educate our kids, we need to give them hope for a future. Most importantly, we can't fight evil if we push God to the side.

We make these same mistakes every single time, and then we scream, "Why does this keep happening!?" What can be done can't be done through our government; our communities and churches have to step up. These are our schools, our children, and our family members. Our responsibility. Looking to government to take care of us when we can do it ourselves will cause more harm than good. No one is going to care about your personal safety, or your mental health, more than you do. Writing and debating legislation that isn't going to do any good is a waste of time and money. If we want to avoid these situations, we have to educate ourselves and avoid stigmas and stereotypes, and act with our brains. Most importantly we need to remember God and remember the evil that causes this in the first place.

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