This innocent little thing showed up in my Facebook feed this morning. Shall we examine the assumptions a bit more closely?
“I don’t remember a single school shooting when I was a kid.”
I don’t either. Why might that be? Let me count the ways.
- Without avid news and social media to fan the flames, we simply didn’t hear as much of the bad stuff that happened . . . both within families and within communities. For example, a school shooting occurred as far back as 1764. (And no, I didn’t confuse my centuries on that date.)
- During the 1960s when I was a kid, America’s standard of living was rising, inequality appeared to be shrinking, and a feeling of optimism buoyed America. Contrast that with today’s state of the union where one in seven individuals lives below the poverty line—the highest that figure has been since 1959. Pessimism and nihilism are now rampant. We need more than prayers.
- Contrasting the growing poverty is a phenomenal jump in the life styles of the rich and famous, a fact that bombards us daily on billboards and media advertisements. That chasm between rich and poor results in a feeling of powerlessness and loss of hope. In the 18-29-year-old crowd, 83% believe there is too much power concentrated in the hands of too few people.
- Which leads to romanticization and obsession with fame, a phenomenon flamed further by social media. And what better way to become famous than to waste a pack of people in a blaze of automatic fire? If it worked for that kid, why not for this poor, whipped, and bullied boy? Hence, the copycat crime.
- While the FBI reports that violent crime in America is down, the number of active shooters firing into crowds is increasing. While America represents 5% of the world’s population, we account for 31% of the world’s mass shootings. And it is no surprise to see a correlation between the prevalence of guns in America with the prevalence of gun violence compared to other parts of the world. (I’m just sayin’. . .)
- I’m not touching the hotly debated topic of gun control, which, by the way, began long before the 1934 Firearms Act that targeted shotguns and rifles having barrels less than 18 inches in length, certain firearms described as “any other weapons,” machine guns, and firearm mufflers and silencers. (Congress found these firearms to pose a significant crime problem because of their frequent use in crime, particularly the gangland crimes of that era such as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.) I’m beginning to believe that we need to enforce the laws we already have before actually adding more unenforceable laws to the legal codes.
- Mentally ill people were locked up in mental hospitals where they could not get their hands on weapons. Do I agree that these mental hospitals were a good thing for mentally ill people? No. But at least they had a roof over their heads, three meals a day, and medical treatment—some of which was barbaric. Today the mentally ill, young and old, have little support and our current administration is gleefully trying to further cut funding to programs designed to help them. Even parents have trouble finding police protection and medical support for their troubled children.
In short, the pledge of allegiance, the ten commandments, reading from the Bible and praying (the last two were absolutely not done in any of my grade schools) are not going to solve the tremendous social issues that are ripping our country apart. And perhaps, since I don’t do any of those things, the maker of the above meme would have me locked up with all those dirty immigrants who are wreaking havoc in our pristine little country!