I'm going to do something that could be unusual. I'm going to write a piece about school shootings even though there hasn’t been one in recent weeks. It's pretty hard to do since there's been over two dozen just since the December 2012 disaster at Sandy Hook. But this story begins at my dinner table where my second grader was telling us about his day. He had a lockdown drill. This is where in schools they pretend they're being invaded and they all assume the position that is supposed to best protect them from injury or death. It sounds to me like the teachers and faculty did a good job of making it sound less dire; at least my son's enthusiasm made it seem that way. It's just another part of their responsibility.
And that's when I got physically ill. I thought about responsibility and I wanted to grab the neck of every good 'ol boy politician and share with him/her about an obligation to our children. You see, when the offspring of a species are dying, it's a pretty telling sign as to what that community does about it. And so far, the only people doing anything are the kids. You'd better hone your hiding places, children, as the rest of us aren't doing a thing.
I know there are a lot of players on the wheel of Who's Responsible for Shooting Deaths. As far as I've seen, most of them have washed their hands of having anything to do with 20 splattered babies in Connecticut. Or a dozen beating hearts in Littleton. Most of them--most of us--are living this stupid lie hoping that it doesn't happen again.
Here's the deal: this kid who's wide-eyed and regaling me about the excitement of a fire drill isn't just my kid. He's all of ours. How he fares is how our society succeeds (or not.) I'd like to say I'm doing my best, but what am I doing to end senseless and tragic violence? Am I making sure I'm raising a child that doesn't feel so entitled that average teenage trauma doesn't send him into a gunning rampage? Are you raising your kid to be strong and responsible in the face of adversity?
And how about you, say, video game and movie makers? You've pointed to studies that say you're not at fault, that your single-shooter games and wild romanticism of violence don't have an effect. That's crap. It's not entertainment if it doesn't have an effect. You wouldn't be a ballooning billion dollar industry if your product didn’t have an effect. Otherwise we could let our kids enjoy some hard core porn.
NRA. Ridiculous, hijacked NRA. An organization that was once known for teaching kids how to be responsible. But once people started dying you ran for the money. Still, I'm in awe of your power. You've generated enough fear to become invincible in the hail of kid-bound bullets. You've organized and plied every politician in and out of the Potomac, and you've managed to make grown men jump and throw cash at your every word. That's awesome. You're the kind of towering idol we'd all expect to keep our kids safe.
Yet no entity is bigger with more reach than the media. The MEDIA, that growing glob of everyone and everything that’s broadcasting across the air and the web. With that kind of juggernaut we should be able to create discussion that makes us think rather than recoil, retreat, and hope apathy solves the problem. If the big media makes money with scintillating details of suspects pumping rounds into our kids, then they owe us a couple of things.
For one, the desperate, sadistic ideologues of political web, radio and TV do not get to drive the conversation. Any group that makes a living frightening the unstable, well they’re out. Secondly, the big media need to unite us, and not just when there’s death. America has already become like a dysfunctional family that only gets together when somebody dies. It’s time we’re inspired to do something for the living.
It's going to take everyone. Every party, every person...every entity that makes money off of violence or the threat of it. Every parent needs to make sure they're sending safe kids to school, and learn to be aware when they might not be. I'd implicate the schools, but as of right now they seem to be the only party doing anything.
Yet we all have this sick feeling that it won't be long before we're all gathered again, holding hands over a candlelight vigil for the deceased. I hope we start doing our part. I hope the responsibility to thwart killers doesn’t lie solely on the shoulders of our children.