I assumed my last column prior to Christmas was going to be slam-dunk easy to write. I had even started composing my tongue-in-cheek letter to Santa over the past week.
That idea quickly disappeared last Friday morning when I heard the news about the killings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
I think this actually hit me much deeper than the assassination of President Kennedy — although as a high school senior I don’t believe I was mature enough to understand its full impact. And while the horrendous loss of life at the World Trade Center was exponentially larger, it was perpetrated by foreign religious radicals with far different motivation. The massacre of 6- and 7-year-old children was done by one of us for no reason.
Those children still had their innocence. The other children who attended that school have likely lost most of whatever innocence they had, too. Our country lost another increment of what little we as a nation had left.
In those first few hours after the “breaking news” explosion on virtually every station there was a constant stream of information, misinformation, conjecture and pure babble about the events. After that, and to the writing of this column, the experts and the talking heads have minutely dissected the psyche of the shooter, bemoaned the dissolution of society, ranted about the “gun” culture and so many other tenuously related subjects.
This tragic event did not happen in isolation. It is not the first of its kind — except perhaps in regard to the age of most of the people being targeted and killed. Nor, unfortunately, will it be the last until we — as a country and world — decide there’s a better way.
The world, the nations, our own country, culture and society are all intertwined. We live in a system of systems that interact and are interdependent. But our news is in sound bites, so most of us think in the same one-dimensional manner. We are educated to think and analyze in single dimensions.
Our government tends to act in one-dimensional ways. And, of course, we have those who use these tragedies to advance their one-dimensional political agendas.
One-dimensional thinking and programs can never and will never solve multi-dimensional problems.
For a multitude of reasons, our culture accepts violence as a solution to our problems. The westerns of my youth where the hero always shot the gun out of the bad guys’ hands gave way to the spaghetti westerns of my adolescence where the body count increased with nearly every film. And now, the films are almost unwatchable, and when our children aren’t watching them, they can be piling up the dead in any number of video games played online with their friends and getting positive reinforcement for “head shots.”
While this was all going on, we as a society and culture eroded the concept of the traditional family, believing that one man or one woman could raise children who were as well-adjusted as those who came from that traditional family. Then we extended that to domestic partnerships and “live-ins.” And now it’s two men or two women and we are well on our way to whoever happens to be around in whatever numbers and sexual identities will be just fine.
At the same time, we let lawyers and government destroy the parental authority over morality. We give away condoms under the guise of “safe sex” and don’t perceive that as facilitating and condoning sex with anyone/anytime you feel like it.
Of course, the example of many adults isn’t really much better. We really don’t understand that freedom and responsibility are inexorably tied together. When they are treated as mutually exclusive, we do get what we have today.
We now connect with iPhones, iPads, Smart Phones and other social media and the result is we actually disconnect from each other. We are all in danger of becoming strangers in the crowd. People who are well-founded and well-connected personally and socially do not get guns and kill others at random and in large numbers. And we have yet to fully explore and understand how mental illness may play into these tragedies.
In case I haven’t made the point clear enough, the true dimensions of our problems are almost unfathomable and are often the result of many years of “progressive” thinking and programs. To reverse directions is virtually impossible, but we’re guaranteed to fail if we don’t try.
If there is any one-dimensional answer to achieving peace among all of us, it is to be found in understanding the birth of Christ, which we celebrate next week. Peace and love are in every one of our hearts; and there is some degree of evil in every one of our hearts, too.
It’s the choices we make that count. The death of these innocents was not in God’s plan. It was the evil choices of a young man who used his God-given freedom for evil.
If we can get away from this “Happy Holidays” farce and back to “Peace on earth to men of good will,” in the spirit of Judeo-Christian morality personified in Christ, we just might be able to slowly turn things around.
And on Christmas morning, as your children or grandchildren open their gifts, please say a prayer for those families who will never share that privilege again with those they have lost.
Well, that’s what’s been on my mind.