Part of the wall-to-wall national coverage of the shooting in Connecticut was fact gathering. Who, what, where, and when dominated the commentary. However, all of the media scrutiny was carried forward by a rip current caused by the fifth "W"...why? Why did a 20 year old apparently kill his mother and then go to her school to kill what she loved most, her students? Why did he snap? Why was he angry or depressed or both? Why did his mother own three powerful weapons, one of which would have been illegal if we still had an assault weapons ban? Why was there a shooting in an Oregon shopping mall? Why did an NFL player riddle his girlfriend, and mother of his child, with bullets and shoot himself? Why a mosque in Wisconsin or a theater in Aurora? It's a tsunami of whys.
At the time of the attack in Connecticut, another was happening at a school in China. A man stormed the school and attacked the children. 20 children were wounded, but none killed, according to CNN. 20 children were also targeted in Newtown and all of them died. Is it as simple as acknowledging a man with a knife, bat, club, spear, sword, bow and arrow cannot do as much damage as one with modern weapons of destruction? Which would the parents and residents of Newtown have preferred...the 20 year old having a gun or a knife?
Why are we so afraid to engage in a discussion about guns? Our nation resembles a group of people standing waist-deep in gasoline and someone has the brilliant idea of giving everyone a book of matches under the premise this will make everyone safer. Why do we accept this state of affairs?
One week ago, USA Today had a cover story about professional athletes and guns. It seems almost all own one or many guns and see nothing to be alarmed about athletes who earn their living being angry and violent wanting these weapons around their home and in their cars. What is scarier is to read their comments supporting this position. The gist is now that they are making a lot of money, and acquiring valuables, they need guns to protect their stuff. The inclination was not to install sophisticated security in their homes, or hire professionals to protect them...not to build safes or use safe deposit boxes...but instead to strap on and accept that the best way to preserve their property and selves was to obtain multiple guns. They are so scared of the culture they come from, in this country, as soon as they achieve some success, they fear someone will try to take it from them and they are ready to defend all of this to the death. There are rich athletes in Canada, Britain, throughout Europe, why don't they feel the same fear and resort to the same solution and why don't they have similar tragedies as occur here?
We are an angry nation. You don't have to look any further than the recent presidential election to prove this fact. We are angry about everything. Perhaps the anger is a product of the reality we are a terrified nation. Everyday we are told there is more and more for us to be scared of. Economically, we are all to be terrified of going over the fiscal cliff...of the lack of jobs and what will happen to us without enough of a pension and medical care. Workers fear declining wages and a political class which wishes to make it more difficult for them to organize and fight for a share in the enormous profits being generated. We have to be afraid of terrorism. We have to be so afraid we watch the government eliminate the 4th amendment and create invasive databases in order to spy on us and we don't raise a finger in protest. We are told to be afraid of China and terrified of what is going on in the Middle East. In America's cities, we are bombarded by stories about violence and mayhem and the need for more police and more guns resulting in more tension. In California, we spend more on the prison system than on the entire U.C. system. Why? We are so afraid of each other we think locking people up will save us. How else do you explain wrecking the premier education system in the world in favor of guards and bars?
We are afraid of growing old and getting sick and wonder who will take care of us. We have to defend a social safety net from "them". "They" will kill it or tear it to shreds leaving us sick and impoverished and operating in a social Darwinism based on survival of the fittest. We have to be afraid of our own bodies which attack us with various cancers and other diseases. We have to be afraid of what we eat. The Wall Street Journal reported on pork producers who fill their pigs with antibiotics creating "super" bugs which resist medicine and infect us. Refined sugar, and who knows what else, is making us obese and diabetic and this will bankrupt the nation, kill a lot of us, if something isn't done.
When you are scared, and on edge, and under pressure, the slightest event or provocation can set off a chain reaction which ends in a shopping mall in Oregon, or a school in Connecticut or a village in Afghanistan, (where a soldier walked from house to house killing those inside), to Columbine, Aurora or a schoolyard in Stockton.
So, the first question is do you agree we are a frightened and tense nation? (why do we spend billions on anti-depressants and treat mental health problems, as something akin to Astrology, which we don’t believe, is real?) What is the source of this fear? Are we an angry nation? Why and who are we angry with? If we are tense and angry and scared on a daily basis, does it make sense to flood the country with easily obtainable weapons, kept on our night tables within easy reach when we lose control? (There are those who also want these triggers in churches and on college campuses and in bars, to make us safer)
One Connecticut parent told CBS the shootings in Newtown were a parent's worst nightmare. The reality is parents today are harangued with a thousand similar nightmares every day. It's a wonder they can sleep at all. What do we do? Do we become "preppers" and hoard stuff waiting for Armageddon while hiding behind our deadbolts armed to the teeth?
I'm not smart enough to offer a comprehensive solution. I do know when you combine a scared, tense, on-edge population...angry and stampeded by a corporate media which seizes on every opportunity to frighten...with an easy ignition source like guns...we should stop being surprised when something explodes. 20 children are alive in China because their attacker had a knife instead of a gun. This cannot be ignored. However, we have to address and confront the origins of our fears and anger and distrust. If we don't, what happened in Connecticut will continue to occur with increasing frequency.
Is it too clichéd to remind us all this tragedy too place during a season of Peace on Earth, Good will to all people? I'm tired of being afraid and tired of being scared of my neighbors and angry with them too. Are you?