I listened to a discussion on the radio about the tragedy in Connecticut. The two main points of the discussion were that we either need gun control or better mental health care. Looking at Facebook today, that seems to be the broader discussion here as well.
I couldn't help but think, how do either of these things really fix the issue? At least with the mental health discussion they were trying to drive to the root cause, instability of the individuals involved. But to me, they both just seem like stabbing in the dark at symptoms of the issues of our society today, not root causes.
I wonder if what is really missing in our society (in general) are (1) parents involved in the lives of children, (2) a general concern for each other (too much focus on ourselves), and (3) a disregard for the activities that really made our society thrive?
For the first point, I look towards the role of parents. For instance, women have a unique opportunity to nurture children. As a father, I know that I can never have the same bond a mother has with their child. However, we have a generation of children who have largely raised themselves. Is the battle for women's rights (and their absence from the home) really more important than devoting and sacrificing to raise your children? Is a big home and all the latest gadgets more important than time and love? Is putting our kids in extracurricular sports really just to help us as parents feel better about the time we aren't spending in raising our children? Or maybe better put, should we not swing the pendulum back from a focus on what we adults want to focusing more on our children's need for nurturing?
The second point comes directly from a Christian principle that used to be prevalent in our society. "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (Matthew 22:39) This commandment provides us a basic rule of how to interact with others. Do we treat others the way we want to be treated in all ways?
Do we as leaders, business owners, marketers, business people and general citizens provide opportunities for our customers, employees, and fellow citizens to live by this idea? Or do we make it harder for them?
For instance, does an early morning shopping frenzy create a society where we are caring about our neighbor? Are there ways that these activities can be designed to create an atmosphere which provides for both? What about other decisions we make? Do they lead us to be selfish or caring? I think pornography is one area in our society where we have a lost opportunity. It is a huge negative influence and encourages selfishness in the most extreme ways. When we focus so intensely on an extreme it drives us to be more selfish. When we have a balance, it brings us to be more caring.
Finally, the third point in my mind builds on the second point. Isn't the point of government and organizations which work for our society are to provide services which cannot be provided effectively by the individual? It seems that we have lost our way as we have tried to move from being a religious society to a more politically correct society. Why can't we balance among all of the ideas and allow for some of all? Being politically correct seems to push away all that is good. If we are less focused on our selfish interests, we'll be open to other ideas. Likewise, we can look back on what made our nation great and bring back things we have pushed aside as we try to not offend.
I don't expect that I have all the answers, these are just some of my thoughts as another tragedy unfolds. I welcome your thoughtful comments and discussion on this topic. I hope we can get beyond the simple-minded, knee jerk reactions to really think about what we need to do to fix what is wrong with our communities and society.