Friday, August 24, 2018

We Created This

Photo from Wikipedia
This is a blog I wrote months ago, right after the Santa Fe shootings. I was in a classroom in a neighboring school district that day and it was scary not knowing what was going on.

This morning I read about three teenage boys who have been arrested for talking in detail about shooting up their school and placing explosives. I do not know anything about any of these boys. Maybe they were being serious or maybe they were being smart alec teenagers. Either way, even having these type of discussions is a stupid thing to do. 

Here are some of my thoughts about gun violence in our schools:
In the past I have stayed away from talking about things that could be construed as polarizing. However, today I feel the need to talk about gun control, school shootings, and why our children have become fair exchange for political favor.

Most people who know me would not describe me as a liberal. I tend to vote conservatively and support the conservative political agenda.  I cannot, in good conscience, however defend the lack of response and urgency that is coming from Washington. As a gun owner, I fully believe in our second amendment rights. As a parent, I fully believe that something has to give. Schools should be a safe haven for our children, instead they have been turned into killing fields for anyone who has a grudge and can access a gun.

In order to be granted a driver’s license, teens in Texas must first take over 30 hours of training, watch a series of videos on the dangers of texting while driving and pass both a written test and a driving test.  But, what if a person wants to buy a gun?  According to this article in the Dallas News written September 2017, Texas law "does not require universal background checks on all gun purchases, including private sales and purchases at gun shows." Why make getting a driver's license so incredibly challenging and buying a gun so incredibly easy?

While I know gun laws need to be overhauled, I do not believe it is necessary for the government to take all the guns in order to make our schools, communities, churches, and neighborhoods safe.  As a matter of fact, actual guns are the least of our problems when it comes to school shootings.  The problem is much more insidious and ugly than the sleek, cold, steel barrel of a gun.

Our society is one which embraces the glorification and sexiness of guns. Many celebrities who speak out so critically against the use of guns are the very ones who depict guns as a solution in the movies for which these same celebrities earn hundreds of thousands of dollars. Sylvester Stallone, whose movie repertoire includes the gun-toting Rambo, has spoken out against guns.  And Hollywood producer, Quentin Tarantino, refuses to admit there could be a link between the violence portrayed in many of his films (Kill Bill, Natural Born Killers, and Django Unchained, to name a few) and the rise in mass shootings.  Until the public stops giving their dollars to these movies, Hollywood will continue making them. WE are the ones who decide the kinds of movies that are made. The big-time production companies are not going to continue to fund movies that don't make money. If the American public stops going to these types of movies Hollywood will stop making them.

So, it's Hollywood's fault. Right? No, that is not where this story ends. Whenever a mass shooting occurs the media is quick to get the news out, with good reason.  These things are breaking news and the public should know about them.  However, why does the media insist on, not only publicizing the killer's name, but plastering the killer's name and picture all over? These killers become famous and everybody knows who they are and what they look like.  The news media will post an article sharing this information about the killer, then those of us on social media seem happy to run with it. We repost, share, like, sad-face, and comment on these posts until they become viral.  Because news and social media sites are paid based on the number of hits they receive, they will continue posting this information for as long as we keep clicking on their articles. It is up to us to stop sharing and talking about the killer. This infamy could be exactly what the killer was hoping to receive.

A few months ago I wrote a blog regarding the entitlement many of our teens are feeling. I feel that we (parents and society) have given our kids such a sense of entitlement that many of them feel they are entitled to: have friends, be on the team, have all A's, be happy, etc.  It is our duty as parents, teachers, and friends of these children to teach them how to handle disappointment, how to accept responsibility for their actions,  how to work for the things they want.  These kids need to learn the feeling of accomplishment they will feel when they work hard for something they really want.  Do you want friends? Learn how to interact with others in an acceptable way and to be a friend yourself. Do you want to be on the team? Practice for hours every single day. Do you want to have all A's? Spend your time studying, do all your school work to the very best of your ability,  and turn in all your work on time. Do you want to be happy? Stop believing everything is about you, give of yourself to others, and learn that happiness is in the journey not an end destination.

We can stop school shootings, but it is going to take so much more than simply taking away all the guns.  It is going to take parents willing to parent and not trying to be friends with their children.  It is going to take teachers and school administrators not backing down to parents who insist their child should have an A for shoddy work or who insist that their child be placed on the team even though the child did not earn the position. We can stop the shootings by not allowing Hollywood dictate to us how we are supposed to behave. Nor can we allow the high-rollers of Hollywood off the hook for choosing to produce movies which glorify guns, but not take responsibility for these movies' effects on society. We can stop this violence by refusing to name the name of these killers, but instead, insist the media focus on those affected by the violence.

It is time WE take responsibility for our actions.  In doing so, we will set a life-lesson for our children they can learn.  We can no longer preach, "Do as I say, not as I do."  We must act in the way we want our children to act. We can no longer afford to take the "moral high ground" with our words, only to act horrified because our children do not know how to accept disappointment. It is time we realize that we have created this problem, and only we can fix it. 

Do you agree? Disagree? Have implementable suggestions? Please comment and let me know.

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