Friday, February 15, 2008

Whose Fault?

I’m working on another post, a much lighter, happier and fun post than this one. This one is important though, I think.

Yesterday, a man walked into a university auditorium and began shooting. He killed at least five others, wounded many more, and then killed himself. It was a tragedy, a terrible tragedy. Each time I hear of such events I am, of course, saddened for the victims and their families, even saddened that society and human nature is such that these kinds of things occur. I stop when I hear of such events and pray for the victims and their families.

Then there is this other side of me, the side that empathizes with the person who became so [insert strong emotion of your choice here] that he (yes, generally it’s a male so I’ll use the male pronoun here but please understand I do not mean to exclude females here) resorted to drastic action to make a drastic statement. As a society, do we not run roughshod over people’s feelings much too often? Do we not tell people to “buck up” and “deal with it” when there is injustice in the world? Do we not basically go around expecting that life to a certain degree is going to suck? And why the hell is that okay with us? Every so often one of us loses control, been beaten down just enough, kicked in the gut once too often, and goes on a rampage. Should society not wake up and learn something from these incidents? Oh sure, we learn to lock down, lock out, lock up, but do we learn anything about treating everyone with fairness, honesty, and justice in everything we do so that people wouldn’t feel so disenfranchised that they feel the need to utilize such violent means of getting our attention?

It is so very much easier for us to sit back and smugly point the finger at how off balance such people are who would do such horrible things than for us to look at how we may have contributed to the problem. Do we go about our day to day lives grabbing for everything we can get for ourselves without regard for the damage it may cause others? Do we remember to deal with others with compassion in all situations? Do we look out for others or just for ME? Do we hold responsibility when one of our own loses it and strikes out in a socially unacceptable way?

“Buck up.” “Get a grip.” “Deal with it.” Okay, some will buck up, get a grip and deal with it by going out and buying a bunch of ammo and shooting up the joint, and if they lived to answer questions from the victims families I dare say they would give them this advice: “Buck up. Get a grip. Deal with it.”


John said...

This might be a bad example. The early word is that the man responsible had stopped taking his medications. What can society do to force people to take their medicines? We've decided nothing. The consequences of not being able to force people to take their psychological medicines can be bad. But the consequences were also bad when we did force people to take them. This doesn't appear to be a case of bullying, or someone not "sucking it up".

Desmond Jones said...

Whose fault?

There is only one person who pulled the trigger(s) on those guns, and trained them on an auditorium full of his fellow human beings.

I don't care if his father was an asshole, his mother was a whore, he was bullied in grade school, stopped taking his meds, and the girl at the coffee shop looked at him cross-eyed.

None of that remotely adds up to taking five human lives which were not his to take.

Lea said...

Actually I think your attitude is part of a bigger problem, that of a society of victims. "It's not my fault... no one was nice to me." I don't care how shitty the hand life dealt you is, no one has a right to pick up guns and kill other people. If his life was so shitty, then he could have just as easily killed himself to end the pain. But taking innocent lives with him so that he could be on the news, now that's what is sick, and it's not society's fault that he was willing to kill people to get notoriety.

It's true that someone has to take responsibility when things like this happen, but the fault lies with the person who bought the guns, bought the ammo, planned it all out, walked into that lecturer hall, and pulled the trigger. Fault does not lie with the person who gave him a dirty look, who inadvertently insulted him, or who screwed him over. Only we can decided how we react to shit happening in our lives, and putting blame on other people is nothing but cowardice.

Trueself said...

I just come at this from a much different perspective than the three of you do. I come at it from "there but for the grace of God go I" perspective because every time one of these things happens, every single time I think back to a few times in my life where I felt pushed to the brink of doing similar things. No I have never done anything like it, but it doesn't mean the thought hasn't crossed my mind. It doesn't mean that I haven't given it serious thought and made little plans in my head. It is fortunate that, so far at least, I always have some lifeline thrown my way that brings me back to reasonable and rational before acting on those thoughts.

My point in writing my post is that I just think that rather than act as though people who do these things are so vastly different from the rest of us perhaps we should look at them as (gasp!) one of us and work to make our actions and our words those of people of compassion rather than hatred, before the fact and in all our interactions with others.

I am not trying to justify the "oh poor me, I'm a victim" mentality. I am just trying to say we ought, each one of us, look to our own actions on a daily basis and how we treat others on a daily basis and ask ourselves if we are contributing to more or fewer of these kinds of incidents.

Anonymous said...

We live in a country that has put a man on the moon, robots on mars, a spacestation in orbit and we plan to figure out how to put men on Mars too. Yet for all that intellect we can't figure out how to stop these things before they happen. What does it take to stop it before it happens? Sure we can spend our time blaming the idiot with the guns, or the society that pushed, or the meds, or the lack of security, or a dozen more things to blame. In the end, I ask, why aren't we capable of stopping it before it happens? Why do we seem incapable of figuring it out ahead of time? Why can't we identify men like him in the first place and deal with them before they seek their infamy? Reading your post tells me that our thoughts are not very different in respect to a situation such as this.

Bunny said...

I also have had the "there but for the Grace of God" feeling sometimes when these things happen. Some of these people have life-long problems, but some seem to be normal people who just snap! I could understand pressures building and building . . . . I certainly don't condone or excuse what they've done - they still had a choice not to hurt or kill others, but I can understand how someone's mental health can break down that far.

Trueself said...

SM - Thank you, finally a voice of sanity amid the din.

Bunny - And thank you too for getting where I approach this from.