Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Question We Never Ask (When Bad Things Happen)

By now you have no doubt heard about the shooting at the movie theatre in Colorado. This is of course a sad event and all those involved are entitled to our thoughts and especially our prayers (even the shooter). The responses to this event are on par with similar tragedies. We wonder why this happened, why someone would want to do this. We take steps like increasing security and other precaution to make sure it can't happen again. But it seems like we never look to a bigger picture than this individual.

I don't have any statistics and I'm not going to try and make any up but it seems fair to say that irrational violence has been increasing in modern history. The question that doesn't seem to ever get asked though, is whether there is something about our society that is a cause for this kind of behavior. Is there something we're doing or not doing that facilitates people acting out violently like this?

We don't like to as this question, I suspect,because an answer to it would put us partially at fault. If there is something that's part of the fabric of society that causes these people to shoot up public places then the blame rest uncomfortably on all members of society, on all threads in the fabric. Allowing ourselves to ask the question does require some admission of failure. We have to admit that collectively maybe we're not doing something right.

As difficult as this is though, it's also the first step toward making things better. If we can admit that maybe our plan for forming people into happy and responsible adults isn't perfect then we can get along with making changes and avoiding disasters like this.

I don't want to engage in specific finger pointing here but only want to encourage us to admit that it isn't a case of one bad egg coming out of an otherwise perfect social system. We have problems, problems that lead people to horrific acts like this. We need to address these problems. Pretending they don't exist only sets us of for future failure.