Yesterday’s tragic events in Connecticut was sad beyond words. How can one make any sense of the killing of children? The idea that the shooter had mental issues is obvious and an understatement. How does one like this fall through the cracks?
I believe we as a people bear much of the responsibility. When I was a child a family could have a good life with one parent in the work force. I and my brothers and sisters were raised with a stay at home mom till well into our teen years. There was a large family support network of uncles and aunts with the grand parents as focal points and models for us all. Sundays were a time when everyone got together for a day of love and sharing. Cousins played (and sometimes fought) in the way kids do which gave the opportunity for teaching and learning which behaviors were acceptable and which were not. These life lessons were done in the spirit of love and compassion, reinforced by all the family. Kids learned in a conducive environment the strong lessons of being fair, the spirit of giving and sharing and also how to compete in a responsible manner. They also learned how to lose without shame and win with humility.
Things have changed over the last 40 years. Our idea of success and accomplishment began to be measured in material accumulation rather than accomplishments of character. The cost of the new measure required both parents in a household to work and children at formidable ages were farmed out to day care or surrogates of some fashion. Work expanded to include weekends and nights - and quality time with the kids dwindled. The family structure dissolved and often in pursuit of higher pay or advancement, families moved away from their city of birth and the support network of relatives where so much of the young one’s values were instilled and reinforced through example.
The vast majority of people and families do succeed in teaching their children the things that are needed for them to be good productive adults with strong character and ethics even in today’s hectic pace. I will however pose the question - do more kids today fall through the cracks we have created in our society? Is accumulation the driving force to the exclusion of accomplishment and character?
Will we see more of the type of tragedy we saw yesterday and over the last couple of years? The rate of incidents appears to be accelerating. And what ultimately can be done about it?