Sunday, January 20, 2013

Protect the Individual and You Protect Everyone

All I hear in the morning and evening on the news networks is about how "something must be done" about the awful tragedy that recently befell grade school students in Connecticut. I agree.

There were teachers with guns in their desks when I was in grade school. Did I feel scared? Nope. Were there mass shootings in school? Nope. Were guns harder to get, then? Nope (far easier, actually). Were there more gun laws then? Nope.

In all of the recent cases of mass-murder violence the perpetrator has been classified as mentally ill and has at some point been on drugs prescribed by doctors. Did they have all of these drugs for kids when I was a kid? Nope.

All of this began to change in the early '90s. Legislation began to be passed that, although well-meaning, violated the basic core of American beliefs: personal responsibility. When you give the responsibility to care for you children to the government, you shouldn't be surprised when it messes up. When you allow government to regulate what you should be teaching and learning yourself, you fail yourself and your children.

My parents taught me to respect firearms. That's all I needed. I was an adult before I purchased my own firearm and I follow all safety precautions when handling or using the weapon. I was taught at a young age that guns were, like any other powerful tool, capable of killing or maiming.

Mental illness appears to be the foil, not what type of weapon you do or don't have. Mental illness is NOT new. There have been those with chemical imbalances in their brains since humanity has existed. Why, now, are those imbalances beginning to result in more violence?

Let's look at the system from which all of these killers have received training: school. It isn't always the things you intend to teach that are learned in school. Many times, it is the things you DIDN'T intend to teach that stay with a child. For example, I knew kids with high intelligence levels who were bullied by teachers. The child seemed arrogant and the teacher intended to teach humility. Instead, the result was that the child perceived the injustice of being correct, yet being corrected.

Then you have the peer pressure. The prison-like atmosphere of forcing children to inhabit a classroom for intolerable amounts of time while uncomfortable in their surroundings and constantly on guard against attacks from classmates causes incredible pressure on normal students. Add to this a chemical imbalance and incorrectly administered psychiatric drugs (whether it be the child failing to take them correctly or incorrect analysis by a doctor) and you create a tender box for violence.

The violence may not erupt for years. The damage done to the young, formative brain of the child can easily compound with paranoia and further self-isolation to avoid the perceived injustices committed by their fellow humans. When the breaking point is reached is not something predictable and changes from child to child. Nevertheless, the fact that a breaking point DOES exist should be established.

Recently, in China, a male armed with a knife killed 22 students in a school. Could gun laws have stopped this? Obviously not, since China has some of the toughest gun control laws in the world.

The knee-jerk reaction is to treat the symptoms, not the disease.

The disease is disrespect for the individual. The seeds of the disease are planted in childhood. All children are not the same and no one method of treating one child is good for all children. Respect for the individual and personal responsibility is the only solution to the recent violence plaguing our society and until we recognize this, we are doomed to see it repeated.