“There have been at least 288 school shootings in the US since 1/1/09, 57 times more than the other six G7 countries combined.” –CNN
These numbers are, unfortunately, no surprise to me. Our culture has been steadily shifting to one of violence and our young people are caught in the crosshairs. The rhetoric perpetuates, spinning round and round as the NRA spins the mental health issue and our politicians take their sides without paying much attention to what their constituents feel. And here I am, spinning my own rhetoric.
What I can’t wrap my head around is how this perpetuates in such a vacuum. Parents don’t know what is going on in the minds of their children, don’t check their internet pages, don’t look at those others their sons hang out with, or whether they have friends at all, don’t know if they have guns and don’t secure guns in locked safes.
I don’t mean to be ragging on the parents. Sometimes their sons externalize very differently than what they internalize, but certainly, parents can determine if their children are depressed or angry or manifesting signs of mental illness. Perhaps one problem is they don’t know what to look for. Mental illness isn’t covered in most parenting books, that is if they read those books.
Schools are also part of the problem as are the communities. The “not in our town”, mentality is a pervasive glitch in our psyche. There aren’t enough instructors to demonstrate what to look for and how to prepare for it. Police departments are also not involved enough, although in many towns there just aren’t enough police officers and perhaps not enough budgeted funds to train them adequately, particularly in small towns.
But, I think the greatest problem is that there is a lack of Hope in these young people, and in those who perpetrate mass shootings at concerts and movie theaters, or wherever crowds merge. They lack the foresight to see there are better ways to handle their feelings, that going out in a blaze of rage is not the answer. They are, too often, left to their own devices. Nobody is wondering why a person is acting strangely or if it’s their responsibility to do something about the warning signs they see. And young people who see what is emerging in another classmate keep that tight-lipped stalemate of not acting in protection of one of their own, even one who no one wants to be near.
I had a dear friend who had an arsenal of over 200 weapons, including cannons he had built himself. Everyone looked on it as a quirky obsession and hobby. He grew depressed and was so hateful to his family that they avoided dealings with him – left him to his devices. I can’t blame them, dealing with his rage and depression filled them with despair. I talked with his wife about the possibility of therapy but he wouldn’t hear of it. In the end, he blew his brains out. In front of a son. The guns are his sons’ legacy. It makes me crazy thinking about it. They should be sold and the money’s used to start their adult lives with. I mentioned it to my friend, but that is where my advice ended. Guns are just part of her reality even though she doesn’t touch them.
Hope is strangely lacking in so many of our lives. We huddle in masses of despair. Those who have church may find comfort there; therapy is a God-send to many. But to those who have no real support in their lives, whose lifestyle and decisions seem to have no awareness in those around them hope is just 4 letters strung together. And they are already strung too tight. And we stand by, hands dangling at our sides, vacant expressions on our faces, saving “Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa.”