America, you’re too young to die. And yet you are.
America is a culture of violence. From urban gang violence to rural hate crimes to suburban mass murders, we are slowly killing ourselves. We kill the unborn, we euthanize the aged and comatose, and we commit suicide in record numbers. When it comes to mass violence, some of it stems from international terrorism (San Bernardino, Orlando) but much of it is homegrown domestic terrorism. Seven of the ten worst mass shootings in American history have happened since 2000. Three of the top five in the past two years (Orlando, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs). The tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL is now ninth on that list. The vast majority of mass shootings are by males.
America, it’s clear that we have a serious problem. And it’s going to require more than rocket science to figure it out. Otherwise, the tragic body counts will keep stacking up.
The question is WHY? Why has America become the land of the violent. Our colors now bleed red, white, (black) and blue. Actually, I think the reasons are clear:
1. FATALITY COUNTS HAVE BECOME RECORDS TO REACH. Mass shootings in America are out of control. It’s clear those who are mentally unstable, particularly the young, are using these tragedies to gain “fame.” On the same day of the carnage in Florida, another school shooting in Seattle was foiled. Evidently a kid dreamed of creating the “biggest fatality number” possible. He was turned in by his grandma. Good for her. If you see something, say something. It takes a village.
2. WE AREN’T DEALING WITH THE PROBLEM. Neither the Left nor the Right has a productive answer to the sticky wicket of gun violence. Removing firearms from law-abiding citizens (an objective of the radical Left) will not stop gun crimes. It won’t even curb crime or murder. Bad people will always weaponize their criminal behavior. However, the Right’s fervent, even unhealthy, attachment to all guns–particularly automatic weapons–is equally disturbing. The vast majority of Americans recognize there’s no need for the general population to own AR-15s, bump stocks or any other weapon of mass destruction. It’s time for gun legislation that has teeth. And I say that as gun owner. AR-15 rifles are not for hunting or sport. They are killing machines and should be outlawed from possession by anyone except the police and military.
3. AMERICANS ROUTINELY MISAPPLY CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS. The Second Amendment–and all “rights”–are not absolute. Every right we enjoy has a natural limit. “Freedom” doesn’t mean we are FREE to do (or say, print, buy) ANYTHING (that would produce anarchy). Freedom is always rooted to responsibility and if we cannot be responsible then freedom must be limited even removed. The Second Amendment’s right to bear arms may need to enforce some limits until other social and cultural issues are resolved in America (see points 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8). Without a doubt, if there’s valid reason (felony, misdemeanor criminal activity, history of violence, mental instability or illness), then such individuals shouldn’t have access to a gun of any type and stiff fines should be levied upon those who sell them. Whoever sold the gun to the shooter in Parkland, FL is equally at fault. It’s not right that firearm sellers are not held responsible for their part in these massacres.
4. GUNS ARE NOT THE REAL PROBLEM. The “elephant in the room” of school shootings isn’t guns or easy access to guns. That’s a red herring of those seeking absolute gun control. The real “elephant” is a popular media (music, video games, literature, television, movies) that glorifies, desensitizes and affirms gun violence. Several studies reveal PG-13 movies “showcase more gun violence” than R-rated movies. Hollywood’s continual stream of violent fare (and those who buy the tickets to see these movies) is clearly a factor to gun violence in real life. Face it, America, we become what we consume. And when we allow our kids to ingest bloody media, we shouldn’t be surprised by their aggressive and violent behavior. Is there a correlation between bloody media and gun violence? The problem is an R-rating won’t stop kids from seeing violent movies at home. But far too many parents tow their kids to R-rated movies at the theater and that can be controlled. Perhaps the “R” rating should change: “No one under 17 admitted.” Prove your age, like with alcohol, or you don’t get in. Movie theaters who violate would face fines.
5. THE RELIGION OF EVOLUTION. The cultural dissolution of morality since the 1960s has created this America we live in. Faith and religion of the Right are now sidelined, even mocked, by those on the Left. If you believe in God, particularly God as Creator or employ science to defend intelligent design, you are considered ignorant, backwards and intolerant. But maybe it’s time we considered how evolution creates a culture of violence. Think about it. Evolutionary theory’s fundamental idea argues that human beings are evolved animals who survive only by being the most “fit.” This survival of the fittest involves destroying weaker beasts. Violence is necessary to evolve. For decades Americans have been indoctrinated with evolutionary ideas and it’s only made us behave as animals. We bully, speak hate, consume violence, oppress, sexually and emotionally harass. If we don’t want a pregnancy we kill the baby. If we don’t like our marriage, we divorce. If we hate our life, we end it. If we want vengeance, we take it. World views have consequences, my friends. Evolutionary philosophy is not benign nor without excuse.
6. PARENTS WHO NO LONGER PARENT. It’s a common criticism of today’s parents: they let their kids do whatever they want. Discipline is lax, disregarded or even excused as disability. Children curse openly. Children lie and steal. Children punch, beat, bite and hurt. Children experience stuff far too young (and usually with a parent watching, even laughing). Few children are taught simple “ten commandment” morality anymore. I grew up in a gun culture (Montana). I grew up shooting firearms. Every pickup had a gun rack (usually sporting loaded rifles). But I was taught a very simple rule: you never point a gun (even a toy) at another human being. And I never did. I wouldn’t even play “war” video games later in life. I watched a parent the other day as their preschooler boy playfully pointed a gun at his parents and said “bang, bang!” I watched his parents laugh. Not once did they tell the tyke “we don’t point guns at people.” Trust me, if your kid points a toy at a person now, including you, he won’t have a problem doing it later with the real thing. Attitudes and actions of violence don’t happen by accident.
7. THE OBSESSION OF BLOOD AND VIOLENCE BY THE NEWS MEDIA. Let’s be honest: the news media’s 24/7 addiction to blood needs an intervention. Every news writer knows “if it bleeds, it leads” but that doesn’t mean the mikes and cameras need to roll for hours. Is it wrong to conjecture the media creates these “mayhem monsters?” Is it possible the violently predisposed are influenced, even inspired, to think the only way for a “name” and fame is to commit violent crimes (with huge body counts)? I believe so. News media used to be more tempered but ever since OJ Simpson it’s become a tragic norm. In the competition to be first with a story, the news media peddles fear, distrust, hype and anger…and often gets the story wrong. An oft-shared Parkland “fake news” story, propagated by reputable journalists, mainstream media and Facebook ignorants, was how it was the eighteenth school shooting in 2018. It wasn’t true. It wasn’t even close to being true.
8. THE SOCIAL MEDIA SEWER. The world has changed since Columbine (April 20, 1999). From Facebook to Twitter to YouTube to SnapChat, social media has become a cesspool for ignorance, hate, disrespect and evil. Because people can say (photograph and film) whatever they want, and post it, they do. For example, the Left has engineered a “resistance” of hate for various cultural nemeses: Donald Trump, evangelical Christians, police and white men (to name a few). And with the help of left-leaning national media, the sewer keeps boiling. The Right is just as bad, preaching it’s own brand of inflammatory and hurtful rhetoric (wrapped in patriotism, values and the Bible). Out kids are watching though. They’ve grown up in a hostile political climate where adults bicker, badmouth and berate about everything openly. Disagreement is now considered “hate” by some and “ignorant” by most. My “truth” is right and I’ll just plug my ears and shout my points louder (until you hear me). In reality, we all need to take a big breath and listen more. Facebook has become a sewer for “fake news” and poor commentary because too many Americans cannot discriminate or think critically outside of our theological, philosophical, geographical, economical, educational and political boxes (even though we profess to be tolerant and open-minded). Here’s an idea: If you get caught saying something wrong on social media (and we all have), accept it and apologize (then correct or delete).
The bottom line is EVERY AMERICAN NEEDS TO HAVE A POSITIVE AND PRODUCTIVE VOICE TO DISSOLVE THIS CULTURE OF VIOLENCE in America today. We all have skin in this game and if we’re not careful all we’ll be left with is bloody bones.
Face it, we can scratch our heads when another Columbine, Sandy Hook, Orlando, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs or Parkland happens but it’s really not hard to understand why it’s happening. It’s not a Republican or Democrat issue. It’s not a religious issue. It’s not a poor versus rich issue. It’s not just Hollywood or white evangelicals or Muslim radicals.
It’s all of America.
And the question is whether we have the guts to change it.
Because, America, you’re truly too young to die.