The Blame Game

You may or may not have noticed, but I tend to wait a little while before talking about things that happen in our society.  This isn’t because I’m a procrastinator (I am) or because I don’t like writing about things like this (I don’t), but just because I like to wait awhile.  It gives me time to try to think objectively about things, and digest the stories and reports that spawn out of tragedies. Mostly, it lets me write a little more calmly.

The shooting at Sandy Hook in Connecticut happened a little less than a week ago.  I won’t rehash the whole thing.  You know all about it.

The blame started almost immediately, and it’s still going strong.

Some of the blame is obvious.  The guy who went in there and shot all those babies is to blame.  That’s an easy one.

But it isn’t all so easy.

Almost as soon as the story broke, the gun debate started.  My first reaction to the gun debate was disgust.  If you want to know part of what’s wrong with our society, consider the fact that when a news story broke that twenty babies were laying dead in their elementary school from multiple gunshot wounds, the first response of many was to promote their political cause.  It wasn’t just the gun nuts or the gun haters–it was both.  It was the Christians and the non-Christians. They all sat back and looked down their noses and wagged their heads just like the guys walking past Jesus on the Cross.  They gave their respective reasons as to why this happened and how if their respective ideas had been followed all along, this wouldn’t have happened.

They make it sound so easy.

Here’s the thing–it isn’t easy.  How I wish that there was some sort of concrete answer as to why this happened, how it could have been prevented, and how it could be prevented from ever happening again.  But the answer isn’t in black and white.  Here are a few of the things I’ve heard from many sources, and my problems with them.

  • Ban assault weapons: Well, okay.  In all honesty, I’ve never really understood why anyone needs a semi-automatic rifle.  Also, I totally see the point about how quickly they can fire and how difficult and dangerous this makes the situation for law enforcement to fight back.  But at the same time, if you look at it statistically, how many people own these weapons, and how many are used in mass murders?  It’s a microscopic percentage.  Is that really the problem?
  • Ban all guns: This one makes me kind of sad.  People like to talk about the second amendment, which gives us the right to bear arms and form a militia to protect ourselves from an oppressive government.  Like most good ideas in this culture, we take it, rape it, beat it till it’s bloody, then hang it in the town square for all to see. We stretch the boundaries until the original spirit of the idea is long gone.  I feel this way about our right to bear arms.  We are never satisfied.  Having said that, I am also a gun owner.  I have a hidden handgun, and quite frankly, I am not comfortable giving it up.  I’m not sure how that fits in to everything I just said, but it’s just the truth.
  • Give the teachers a gun: This one bugs me.  I really can’t look at this one objectively, because I think it’s ridiculous.  I know a lot of teachers, and not one of them would be willing to carry a gun in their school.  If nothing else, think of the liability!  They aren’t cops.  Someone mentioned the principal having a gun.  Well, fine.  But here’s a little dose of reality for you.  Real life is not like in the movies, when the citizen shoots the bad guy right between the eyes on the first shot and saves the day.  Can you imagine, as an ordinary, non-gun-toting citizen, being in an OK Corral style shootout in a school building?!  As a parent, I just don’t know about this.  It’s not that I think the teacher would do something bad, but the fact is they are teachers, not cops.
  • Have a cop or security person at each school: Lots of places do this already.  While I think it doesn’t hurt, when a person comes to do the kind of damage this guy in Connecticut did, I’m not sure what would happen.  I like to think it would have made a difference, but I don’t know.
  • Bullet-proof glass:  I don’t mind this one so much.  He shot his way in because they wouldn’t buzz him in.  Bullet-proof glass would have prevented that.  But I don’t know much about bullet-proof glass–can it be compromised?  Could he have, say, driven his car through the wall to get through?  I just don’t know.
  • Bring back the death penalty/hanging/torture/an eye for an eye, etc.:  This one is especially sad.  A man goes into a situation with the full intent of ending his rampage by blowing his own brains out–do you really think the death penalty scares him?

I guess my point is just that I don’t know what you can do if someone is determined enough to do something terrible like this.  I don’t know how it can be prevented.  Even with mental health care revisions, it isn’t fool-proof.

You can argue about God, and how we’ve turned out backs on him, and this is what happens.  You can say evil is loose in the world.  But here’s a news flash for you–evil has always been loose in the world.  As humans, we are set apart from all other living things on Earth by our intellect, and our free will.  This gives us the capacity for great goodness.

It also gives us the capacity for great evil.

So, whose fault is it?  I would say it’s mine.  And yours.  And our parents.  And our grandparents……..back and back and back forever.  So how do we fix it?  I don’t know.

I don’t know.


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6 Comments on "The Blame Game"

  1. Yocheved
    19/12/2012 at 2:52 pm Permalink

    Excellent commentary, and I couldn’t agree more.

    I am sadly well versed in many facets of this debate. I have a 9 yo daughter who goes to a public school. I own a handgun. I have a brother who has schizoaffective disorder and has threatened to kill my parents, his wife and his two kids on many occasions.

    I tell my daughter that when Adam and Eve sinned, they “broke the world”. Our job is to fix it. For every evil deed that is done, we have to do that many more good deeds to balance out the scales. The more good we do, the less weight the evil has on society. It’s the Jewish concept of “tikkun olam”, literally healing the world.

    I forgive the people who immediately jumped to their favorite political issues. It’s human nature, when you’re in shock from something so horrific, to need to grasp a concrete “WHY”. People go to what they know – their pet peeves. It’s like an evangelist who blames hurricanes on homosexuals. Do Gay Pride parades really control the weather? It’s totally illogical, but so is tragedy. The human brain hates unsolved puzzles, and will find patterns where none exists. It’s a sanity coping mechanism, even if it’s a faulty one.

    Faith says, It’s OK to not know “why”. Faith is trusting in G-d, no matter what. That when we die, or when Moshiach (Messiah) comes, we will all understand perfectly. Knowing why is a good thing, and we should not stop asking, but if we don’t know the answer we shouldn’t let it drive us crazy. The important thing is that we do our very best to be the best people we can be. THAT is the end lesson of all this.

    May we only hear good news, and see the Redemption soon and in our days.


  2. Janice
    19/12/2012 at 3:17 pm Permalink

    You articulated very well what has been in my heart–about the human mind’s need to see some sense, and the inability to accept that some things simply don’t make sense. WE are not Omnipotent, yet we try so hard to be. Oh, how we. fail.

  3. Rachel
    19/12/2012 at 4:40 pm Permalink

    The illusion of free will might have something to do with it. I do not know how you even BEGIN to wrap your brain around this horrific event and accept the reality of it, never mind how to prevent it from happening again.

  4. Janice
    19/12/2012 at 4:57 pm Permalink

    I read in a book once where one of the characters was talking about blame. He said that because so many people were responsible, no one was responsible. Everyone and no one. Or something along those lines.

  5. Rachel
    19/12/2012 at 5:08 pm Permalink

    Attributing this madness to biblical notions of evil may be comforting, but it is completely ineffective when trying to come up with a realistic remedy and explanation. It is a problem of malfunctioning, maladaptive human nature, which people are free to call evil if they wish, but it is no answer.

    (Janice, you always have the best posts for debate! 🙂

  6. Janice
    23/12/2012 at 12:49 pm Permalink

    Why thank you! I have an upsetting tendency to see all sides of an issue, so it’s hard. But I love hearing what other people think because it makes ME think.

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