Monday

December 9th, 2019

Insight

Why?

Greg Crosby

By Greg Crosby

Published August 9, 2019

Why?
By the time you read this almost a week has gone by since the mass shootings took place in El Paso and Dayton. The media mavens, the commentators, law enforcement, the sociologists, the Democrats and the Republicans have all had their say and taken their predictable positions on why mass murders such as these take place in our country.

President Trump has weighed in as has all the Democratic presidential candidates.

Consider some of the theories I've heard this past week put out by our national leaders, journalists, talking heads, and opinion writers:

Too many guns.

Not enough gun laws.

Too many violent video games and movies.

President Trump's rhetoric.

Social media.

Social alienation

Fake news.

Systemic racism.

Increasing white supremacy

Insanity.

Rage.

Desperation.

Depression.

Hate.

Anger.

A psychological need for notoriety or fame.

You can take your pick or come up with one of your own. Lots of people are quick to offer reasons and solutions for the mass killings, but in the end there are no easy explanations, there are no simple solutions.

One thing is for sure, something is wrong somewhere. Something has happened to us as a nation, something broke. This never happened (at least to the degree it is happening now) 100 years ago or even 60 years ago.

So what has changed over the decades? What is it that is different about America now than it used to be?

For one thing, how we interact with each other has changed dramatically. Old-fashioned personal contact has been replaced by smartphones, chat rooms, and Internet social networks. Young people are influenced and affected by their circle of "friends" and other contacts they make while sitting alone at their electronic devices.

We are by far a less religious society than we once were. Morals, manners and the very tenets of right and wrong have shifted and are more vague and relative than they used to be. Our country was founded as a Judeo-Christian nation and for most of our history we were. Fundamental teachings of religion were the backbone of our people. Belief in G od was never mocked or put down as it is now in today's much more secular culture.

And our public schools reflect this secularization, replacing moral standards with moral relativism, identity politics, and radical environmentalism.

Media and popular culture only serve to reinforce these ideas and, as others have correctly pointed out, radical liberal philosophy has become the new religion for many of our citizens. Our American history and the goodness of the American people was once a source of pride, but the increasing negativity taught in our classrooms today has brought on nihilism and a sense of "what's the use?" in too many young people.

We've seen the breakdown of the traditional family unit over the course of the last four or five decades. Waiting until marriage before having children isn't as prevalent as it once was. A father and a mother raising children together was the cornerstone of American society, now we glorify single mothers as if it's a wonderful development. A boy needs the strength and inspiration of a father. Too many today don't have that.

There also has been a coarsening of society in general. A vulgarity and ugliness in so much of our daily lives, both verbal and physical. We, all of us, once knew the parameters of propriety and good taste. There are no limits to crudeness anymore and if anyone even dares to suggest it, they are accused of being judgmental (which is almost as bad as being accused of being a racist).

These are just a few ways our society has been altered over the years; there are many other examples, of course. Whether or not the changes I've listed here have resulted in (or contributed to) the horrific mass killings we are experiencing is totally unknowable. No matter what anyone says, there is no way to know for sure why these things occur.

Most of us are sick to our stomachs every time we hear or read of innocent people getting killed by these evil monsters among us. Close to 500 people have died in mass shootings since 2000. We all want it to stop already. But how to stop it?

Elect a Democrat president? Not hardly, there were 236 killed in mass shootings during the Obama administration. Confiscate all guns? Only the law abiding citizens will turn their guns in, the bad guys will hold on to them. Incarcerate all the mentally ill? Many times you can't identify who is a certifiable homicidal maniac.

Which brings me to our politicians. Our elected officials love to get in front of news cameras and pontificate. They want you to believe they know how to stop these things if only the opposition party would get out of the way and let them do it. And they all use the same trite political expression; "We need to have a national conversation." Yeah, let's set up a few meetings. We can order in a pizza. Let's talk about it for a while; let's do some polling on it.

Short of getting into a time machine and going back to 1949 I don't know any way of putting a stop to mass shootings quickly and completely. I just don't. If you have any bright ideas let me know. I'll pass them along to the politicians so that they can focus group test them.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. He's been a JWR contributor since 1999.

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