You would have to be very naïve or extremely unread not to realize that mankind has a long and brutal record of violence in our brief while on this planet. The murders today in Newtown, CT, horrible beyond description, are simply an extension of the behavior that we have exhibited since we became the head of the food chain.
We all know the nursery rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” I learned that from my parents when one of the neighborhood kids insulted me. As I had never been beaten by this child with either stick or stone I had to imagine what that would have felt like. In the meantime, I knew what the insult felt like because, my parents’ wisdom notwithstanding, I was hurt by that snub.
Man started making war and making his way on this earth with sticks and stones. We moved to bow and arrow and spear and lance and knife and sword. We invented guns and then pistols and each evolution of these weapons proved even more effective and faster and less personal than its previous incarnation. And we made rockets and bombs to replace the old assault weapons of catapult and boiling oil.
We became more efficient with our methods of dispatching one another. And every time we found a faster and better way to kill, we learned not to think of those whom we victimized as people but as targets – necessary sacrifices who stood in the way of whatever goal we had set for ourselves.
We should be disturbed and deeply saddened but not surprised at what happened in Newtown, CT on December 14, 2012.
This is a terrible tragedy. It is almost too difficult to conceive – other than that we have already lived through it far too many times in other places with other killers and different sets of victims.
When a tsunami or other “natural phenomenon” claims thousands of lives, we can at least understand that this occurred without willful intent. While that is small solace for the victims and their survivors, at least we can wrap our thinking about the misfortune.
But this is different. And because it is something that is so hard for us to comprehend – why anyone could be led to murder twenty children and six adults, including himself, defies any sense of logic – or at least it goes far beyond mine.
There will be extensive coverage of not only the shootings but we will hear about the shooter and his family. We will come to know this man intimately. We will see the funerals of the victims and we will cry at the horrible injustice that their lives ended by his hand . We will hear from journalists, politicians, psychologists, clergy, the families of the children who died and the children of the adults who perished. We will hear from those who advocate that all firearms be surrendered and we will hear from the NRA.
And, after a short while, those who were not personally touched by these murders will forget and go about their business, looking forward to the next NFL game which may or may not produce any number of injuries or watching our favorites mar and scar their opponents in an Extreme Fight. And we will put a bumper sticker on the back of our car that proclaims our son or daughter is a graduate of D.A.R.E. and has learned to resist violence and drugs, complacent in the certain knowledge that we have fulfilled our role as a good parent.
Take away all the firearms on our planet. We will once again find ourselves battling each other with bow and arrow, spear and broad sword, catapult and boiling oil. Because with all our getting, we have yet to get understanding – and even less have we found for ourselves the beneficence of compassion and love and decency.
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” – Albert Einstein