Saturday, 15 December 2012

Worldwide Culture of Death

People will use yesterday's massacre as another stick to beat the USA with, but I live within two hours' drive to Dunblane, so I won't be among them. There are massacres of innocent people in Europe, just as there are in the USA, and just as there have been in Canada. The common denominator is not gun laws but men who somehow think that their wish to kill innocent people is more important than anything. More important than life. More important than children's happiness.

The fool says in his heart, "There is no God."

The one good thing about yesterday is that women--teachers--put their bodies between a twenty-year killer and their under-eleven pupils. This is what adult women are supposed to do. Adult women are supposed to protect the very young and the very old. Adult men are supposed to help us and, oh yeah, protect us from men. This could mean from men like themselves. Men who shout "You're not going out dressed like that, young lady" aren't necessarily speaking solely from theoretical contemplation of other men.

I don't know why a twenty-year old boy would shoot his mother with her own guns and then drive to her school to shoot her kindergarten class* and anyone else, woman or child, who got in his way. Jealousy? A sense of entitlement? Anger over his parents' divorce? Entitlement, almost certainly.

I was born in a country with strict gun laws, and I live in a country with strict gun laws, but somehow I cannot blame the guns. (It's too late for the USA to get rid of them now anyway. It is awash with guns, and always has been, and Americans are stuck with them. You might as well try to rid Scotland of alcohol.)

I blame whatever it is that makes a boy or a man think he is justified in killing his neighbour, let alone his own mother, or a child, or several children. Where did he get that idea? Who told him? Was it advertisers constantly appealing to his ego or sex drive, or television constantly appealing to his ego or sex drive, or movies offering up dodgy models for emulation, or video games in which he is the omnipotent slayer of thousands, or music lyrics that encouraged him to feel hard done by and to take out his rage on people around him?

Was it television news showing Palestinians dragging dead Palestinians behind their motorcycles? Was it thousands upon thousands of images of human beings being brutalised in a hundred different ways?

Was it the constant stream of books and shows celebrating the glamour of evil? Vampires, for example, are not exactly hero material.

Was it the culture of easy divorce, of the importance of parents' personal lives at the expense of their children's happiness? Should divorce laws treat married people with kids the same married people without kids? Does anyone pledge to stay together "for the sake of the kids" anymore?

Was it Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins smirking from book jackets, selling thousands upon thousands of their copies of their message that only idiots fear God. There is no God, they claim. Life is short and ultimately meaningless. It doesn't matter what you do, kid, so have a good time. If you make your mark, maybe your name will live on.

Note that I don't name the killer. Please don't name him in the combox. I wish there was some way to prevent him from becoming a hero to other rebels with a cause or clue. Why, oh why, did pop culture ever make a fetish of those people?

Yesterday showed us a failure in civilization. As an aunt of three children under ten I am sickened and terrified that a privileged, educated young man could even think of killing the little children under his mother's care en masse, let alone do it. The only, only thing that keeps me from despairing is the news that women put their bodies between him and children and said "No." Unlike the survivors of their polar opposite, their survivors can hold up their heads at their funerals and say "My loved one lay down her life for another's child."

Update: The news reports have been changing the details daily. Now it seems that the Connecticut killer's mother was not the children's teacher. There are suggestions she once worked as a teacher's aid. And there are declarations that she had no direct links to the school. One lesson we can take home from this is that the media gets a lot of details wrong and when it doesn't know something, it makes it up, and hopes you will forget later.


Connie said...

You might find this article interesting

I used to teach scripture to the kindergartners at my little sister's school, they were such a joy to teach and be around, and the thought of someone targeting such innocents is heartbreaking and horrifying.

sciencegirl said...

A lot of people are quoting Mr. Rogers right now: "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." I find it comforting to remember that most people are good and loving.

katy said...

This was my assessment too - nothing but the culture of death and all its causes can be blamed on this. I read yesterday that the same day, some loon in China went in a school and stabbed - stabbed! - 22 children. So you can't really blame guns, America's cowboy culture, or whatever. I think you hit the nail on the head. Evil will always exist. The question is if it is cultivated and marinated in a surrounding culture that stokes it or squelches it.

Amy said...

Thank you for your post, Seraphic. I'm an American, an aunt, and a teacher. Amen to everything you said.

Excuse me for taking this opportunity to process a little bit.

On Thursday I became aware of a Facebook page titled "I'm having an ab*rti*n." I left a comment expressing my concern for the well-being of the woman who created the page. The responses that came back expressed a mindset that is so foreign to me I can't begin to comprehend it. The mocking, baiting, and hatred oozed from their comments. It was like they were playing a game. I read & felt sick, but did not respond. Obviously any response was only going to feed them.

Then I heard of Friday's massacre. I cried all afternoon. Not for the victims who died, for they are surely in heaven. But for the victims who lived: every parent, relative, friend, schoolmate, teacher, who has lost one or more people they love because of someone's complete lack of regard for human life. Their lives are in pieces; they have to figure out how to go on living in such a way that they can meet their loved ones in heaven someday.

The culture of death reaches far more deeply than we realize. I agree with you that the cause of this massacre is not guns but the formative influences on the ones wielding the guns/knives/weapons. A culture of death, a culture that says it's ok for a woman to do whatever she wants with her offspring (which is simply an object, by the way, and not really a person), influences people to think they can do whatever they want with other people, because those people aren't people but objects.

The antidote is heroic love, like that shown by the teacher who died, the teachers who lived, the custodian who warned, etc. And also our heroic love: we too are part of the antidote. Whenever we walk the road to our own Calvary carrying our own Cross - whether that Cross is singleness or loneliness or childlessness or whatever - and especially if that Cross is not of our choosing - if we do it with love we are part of the antidote.

In case it isn't clear, I'm not preaching...just processing. Thanks for the space to do it.

Seraphic said...

Thank you for processing with us! There is something we all can do to say "no" to or do refuse to go along with the world's violence. For example, I refuse to watch any film or television show that features rape--either as an exciting plot point, or as anything else. Even the threat of it, to give the watcher a thrill of delicious forboding, and I leave the room or the cinema.

Seraphic said...

By the way, the Ancient Greeks never portrayed a death on stage. Even though the Athenians were not exactly strangers to violent death (especially on the battlefield), they thought it obscene and immoral to portray a death on stage. When someone died, it happened offstage and a messenger came onstage to tell the audience. And when Oedipus Rex blinded himself, he did that offstage too, and came back on all gory.

The ancient Athenians would probably be amazed at how wealthy the people who have heard of them are today, but they would be disgusted by many of our entertainments. These are people who enjoyed dirty jokes, but violence and porn they would not have stood for a moment.

Anne said...

Thank you Seraphic. Yes, I do agree with you that we can refuse to go along with the world's violence. I have a sensitivity to graphic imagery (always have) and I have to be very careful what movies I watch. So many of them have violent scenes. I will never ever understand the concept of violence as entertainment. Thank you for writing about this, and bravo that you will not watch any film featuring rape.