Treating Symptoms

Sitting here at my desk I can see no less than half a dozen items I could kill you with. There is a very heavy paperweight that would bash in the head of anyone except a politician. There is a pair of scissors. There are several very sharp pencils that would penetrate the throat with ease There is a razor blade in the ashtray, and a drawing compass with a sharp end. In the right hand drawer I have an old Bowie knife my father gave me many years ago. It is no longer very sharp, but it would kill you with a little effort on my part.

No, I don't have any desire to kill visitors to my office, at least, very few of them. The point is that banning guns to stop killing is about as ridiculous as deciding to drain Lake Superior with an eye dropper. We are, as we usually do, treating the symptom and not the cause.

Granted, when children want to kill they look for a gun. It takes no great ability to pull a trigger, no great strength or clever scheme. An irate 17 year old, 240 pound varsity football player, might have no trouble sticking you with a knife or breaking your back, but the average teen finds a gun easier. Keeping fire arms out of the hands of children is another issue. It is an important one, but secondary to the point of this piece. The cause of children killing other children, or adults, is not guns, but a lack of self-esteem that has been fostered in us for a long time now.

Before you can respect the rights of others, before you can value the life of another, you have to respect yourself and value your own life. Before you can say "We" you have to be able to say "I". Unless you believe that "I" have a right to live, how can you possibly believe that "We" have a right to live?

Well meaning people from many areas (government, church, education) have totally botched the present generation and at least the younger part of the past generation. Politicians have done it, as usual, by getting involved in partisan politics and fighting over gun controls and other things that do not deal with the immediate problem. Churches have done it by preaching sermons aimed at selling their views rather than coming to grips with the problem. Educators have simply abandoned the problem in favor of the simple solution of maintaining a camp under siege with metal detectors and policemen patroling the halls.

Politicans want to increase penalties, without realizing that penalties do not prevent crime. Penalties may keep rational people from certain acts, but if we were dealing with rational people we wouldn't have the problem in the first place.

Churches start with the assumption that if everyone attended Sunday School we wouldn't have the violence. Ignoring the fact that the bloodiest wars in history have been religious wars.

Educators want more policemen on the job, ignoring the fact that the society that needs a policeman on every corner is not a civilized society and is a  poor lesson in social studies to be teaching our children by daily example.

If we didn't have so many guns out there, children couldn't get them. If we didn't have such an abundance of food in this country we wouldn't have something like forty percent of the population with a health problem due to obesity. If wishes were horses beggars would ride. Getting rid of food or guns is not a solution.

No matter how we want to make excuses for ourselves, the answer still comes down to parenting, or the lack thereof. Nowhere can values be taught as they can in the home. They have to be taught by example as much, or more, than by preaching.

If you brag to your son that you saved $1,000 by cheating on your income tax, he may indeed think you are clever, and he may indeed think laws are for suckers. Everytime you do something like that you have driven another nail into your child's coffin. If you habitually blast some group whether it be blacks, jews, catholics, baptists, you may be creating a future monster in your own home.

Is it easy to do? Few of us are saints without faults, but you have to try. Don't blame it on schools, politicians, society, guns, other people, or poverty. It is your responsibility and while you can duck it, you can not escape its ultimate results.

The world is full of people who were born in abject poverty and rose to be men and women of outstanding inegrity, and of people born to wealth and "good" families who ended up gangsters or mass murderers. The difference in how they turn out is in the grounding they got at home.

The problem of children killing others is not going to be solved until we focus on the cause. It is extremely difficult, even in two-parent families, to find the time to be a family. The parents are working, the kids are busy, it isn't easy. Until parents stop depending on outside influences such as government, church, and school, the problem is not going to be solved. An interesting question might be, do we really want to solve it or just find someone else to blame it on?







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