This is hardly the first post about what happened last Friday… Hardly the first post, by a “mom blogger” about frustration and fear…. Hardly the first post about a citizen of this country feeling stuck and helpless, yet restless and eager for change IMMEDIATELY… And it’s hardly the first anything that can change the fact that 6 brave adults aren’t alive to build a better future and that 20 beautiful babies are no longer playing on a yard at recess, or learning to read and write, or creating art that would have ultimately ended up on an already cluttered fridge, or becoming the “when I grow up” people they dreamt of being…
What I write, I realize, will have no profound impact on anyone… and certainly not on policy. Or change. Or the parents who’s eulogies made me weep as if these children were family members…
But I have to say something. If I don’t, it’ll just sit with me. So here goes…
I do not believe we are in anyway more violent than we were we in 1791. We’re more imaginative with access to creating and manufacturing stories and images electronically and digitally, perhaps. But, more violent? I don’t think so.
We’ve all spent enough time in early American History classes and museums to know how the West was won. We have read books and seen photos of how the South fought the North. We have watched the very last veterans of WW2 return to Normandy to tell the story of how we fought the Nazis. We have witnessed young men return from Vietnam with missing limbs and no place to go. And we have most certainly seen live footage of Baghdad… and Afghanistan… lit up with explosion.
Nothing but machinery has changed. War is war and violence is violence. 
I also do not believe that we are anymore mentally unstable than we were in 1791. Mental illness has existed since before “mental illness” even had a definition. Those “afflicted” with the disease either suffered alone and undiagnosed, died young (as did most people since the average life span was 37 years), or were sent to an asylum-like prison to undergo barbaric procedures. They were never “fit for society.” We know chemical imbalances, mood disorders, anxiety and depression, and even Autism and Asperger’s existed then. Doctors just didn’t have a name other than “lunacy” for it.
Nothing but science has changed. Crazy is crazy and genetics are genetics.
Look, I’m the first person to close my eyes and squeeze my boyfriend’s arm to the point of puncture wound during a violent or scary movie scene. And, admittedly, I’m the first person to agree that television programs and movies that are advertised towards my young son (which he happily devours) are probably too graphic and too disturbing for his 5 year-old brain.  Do I worry the memories of these images are what keeps him up at night? Yes. Do I worry that after being in a car accident this summer, (that could have killed him), that loud noises and violent explosions (even of the superhero, web-slinging kind), could unnerve him and increase post-traumatic stress? YES, of course. Do I worry that even the horribly acted and written scenes of Power Rangers or even a Light saber toting Luke Skywalker of the Legos Star Wars video game could have a negative affect on his brain waves? YES! Because it does! Science has proven that these games and images DO affect certain areas of the brain, which are associated with self-control and concentration. SO YES. I worry. Because, I know. It. HAS. A. PROFOUND. AFFECT. ON. HIS. BRAIN. DEVELOPMENT.
EVERYTHING DOES… The good. The bad. The ugly. And most certainly, those terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad GMO’s. Right??? Right.
BUT, despite this constant state of imperfection and parental insecurity, (which is the creative force behind what I write and how I think… so for that inner conflict, I am grateful), there is actually one thing I don’t concern myself with. One truth that I know:
NONE of these images and NONE of these games and NONE of my lazy “Well… I guess it’s a McDonald’s kind of dinner” will make my son BE violent. Darth Vader and Optimus Prime don’t deserve that much credit. Nor do the decades of anxiety or depression that have, at times, gripped various family members… 
I can’t blame these things for a violent culture and neither should you. (They do get the same movies and the same bouts of depression in Canada and Switzerland too, you know…)
My point is, is someone’s child dying because of a drunk driver or an over-dose on drugs any less heinous, less sad, or less violent than a massive gun shooting???? NO. Murder is murder and death of a child is death OF A CHILD.
It’s horrific. It’s disturbing. And it’s unfair.
The difference is control of said weapon(s). The difference is access. The difference is our officials DO try to stop this. They do have strict regulations. They do have patrol and jurisdiction. They even DO have education and conversations with youngsters to raise awareness… Awareness that isn’t in the form of a fucking “crisis drill.” Or in the form of a child having to walk through a metal detector to go to 1st Grade. Or in the form of a school principal walking around a play yard with a loaded weapon.
That’s not a DIFFERENCE. That’s a band-aid. And that’s a life of living in fear.
The difference has nothing to do with mental illness or violence…. And it most certainly does NOT have to do with the removal of God in schools or in our hearts.
The difference is strict laws and a societal acknowledgement of RIGHT AND WRONG. I just hope we get it right… soon. And I sure as hell hope we take the ACCESS TO WRONG off of our nation’s “moral grid” and OUT of our neighborhoods. For good. Forever. For our children.

FILED UNDER: A Little Life

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  1. Thursday, December 20th, 2012
    Heartbreaking and tragic situation. Again. When will this violence stop? Its a national shame and a true national emergency. Great post. So sad it had to be written at all. But, if we don't talk about it, write about it, think about it, we will never find a solution!
  2. Thursday, December 27th, 2012
    Yep, it's totally about access, and I share your skepticism about two of the counter-arguments floating around these days: 1) that our society is exponentially more violent than it was in the past (you did a great job of refuting this), and 2) that the solution to school violence is MORE guns and armed guards in schools. Ugh.

    Great post, Jennifer. :)