Friday, December 14, 2012

Sympathy and Outrage Make People a Little Crazy...

I will not deny that the recent shooting at the elementary school in Connecticut was a terrible, terrible tragedy. All shootings are tragedies and doubly so when children are affected – whether it be violence against them, their friends, or those on whom they depend. Nevertheless, some of the things I've seen posted on Facebook, in shared sympathy, are kind of ridiculous.

One person suggested that companies should not launch any funny or lighthearted advertising campaigns this weekend, because “now is not the time”. I understand not wanting to diminish the pain of the people who are trying to deal with what happened, but there really isn't anything we can do to make it better. It's over and done with, and even though they'll be living with the results for a long time, there's nothing we can do to retrospectively prevent it. Taking away anything that could possibly cause laughter would only serve to bring the rest of us down, too. Besides, they'll be depending on the emotional support of people they know and love. The rest of us are strangers and I'm sure they could care less if we go on living our lives. I guarantee they aren't thinking about strangers right now.
And who knows? Maybe some of them will need a little break from all the heartache and a funny commercial could help them get through this horrible time. I believe that we, as strangers, have no right to impede on their personal tragedy. Who are we to say what would make their suffering better or worse?
The other thing I've seen is regarding gun control laws. No one has specified exactly what it is they would like to see changed or tightened, but I personally would ask for caution on this particular topic. The right to bear arms was built into our constitution so that honest citizens could protect themselves from criminals and from overbearing governments – it is the one freedom which guarantees all other freedoms – if we (meaning honest citizens) have the guts to use it when necessary.
This seems like common sense to me, but maybe people don't realize that criminals, by definition, break the law. Any gun control law - any law at all -  can only govern the way honest people act. I don't profess to have a perfect solution, but no action is better than counterproductive action. Making it more difficult for “good” people to get guns will limit their ability to protect other innocents from “bad” people.
I think the best thing we can do to protect ourselves and our children is learn how to identify and neutralize a potential threat. That defense takes many forms. Early identification of mental health issues and providing parenting support to families are incredibly important. (Research showsthat for every tax dollar spent on early childhood education, up to thirteen dollars are saved later, because those children are far less likely to end up in the penal system, or to depend on government assistance.)
Of course, sometimes issues aren't due to a lack in the person's upbringing, but rather an imbalance of chemicals in the brain, or some trauma that caregivers were unable to prevent. It's probable that there are other reasons for mental instability leading to dangerous anti-social behavior.
That's where other forms of defense come into play. Knowledge of self defense techniques and a reasonable amount of vigilance can help us change the odds if a terrible situation comes up. Even if the techniques are never used, the confidence brought by knowing them can help keep people from panicking, and they might be able to make more effective choices. I don't assume that my ideas would prevent every single tragedy from occurring (in fact, I think some tragedies will occur no matter how well we protect ourselves), but I think they would be far more productive than the other ideas that I've seen floating around.

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