The unthinkable tragedy that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, which claimed the lives of 20 innocent children and six adults, left a gaping hole in my heart.
I’m sure many shared the same sentiment that day, as most of America fixed their eyes on their televisions, staring at the faces of the slain boys and girls that flashed across the screen, which was on just about every media news outlet.
I immediately called my grandmother — the woman who raised me — and we had a long in-depth conversation about the mental state of our society nowadays — in particular, our youth.
During our conversation, my grandmother brought up several interesting points. However, one stood out the most. She said, “Our youth are hurting, they are crying out for help and we as a society are ignoring them.”
That comment tugged at my heart strings.
My grandmother, a wise, devout Christian, was raised the old school way — “Children are to be seen and not heard,” and by “spare the rod, spoil the child,” loosely based on Proverbs 13:24. Yes, what was discipline and love back in my grandmother’s day is called child abuse today.
Children are now running the household instead of the parents. There are so many broken homes, as was the case for 20-year-old Adam Lanza — the Sandy Hook gunman — whose parents divorced in 2008. One can only imagine what could have been going on in that household over the course of his childhood or the emotional turmoil boiling up on the inside of Lanza, that caused him to become so angry and kill his own mother in cold blood, and drive to the school where she worked as a teacher’s aide and slaughter 26 innocent people, then kill himself.
Several behavioral health experts are now trying decipher Lanza’s mental state as to what could have caused this socially withdrawn 20-year-old to commit such a horrific act against those who had nothing to do with his personal problems.
Believe me, I’m not defending Lanza’s actions, but there’s something bane that lurks deep inside the minds of our young people in this day in age. Today’s generation tends to think violence is the only way to release hurt. Maybe it’s because our young people tend to find refuge in television or video games that promote nothing but violence.
One thing is for certain: Anger is nothing more but fear and hurt that is compressed, and if it is not addressed or dealt with, it will come out one way or the other. Especially for our young men, who have been taught by society that talking about their emotions or crying is not masculine and is a sign of weakness. Research has shown that boys are more likely to commit suicide and act in violence than girls, because they tend to compartmentalize their emotions rather than talking about them. So, they allow that hurt to fester until they explode. I surmise that this is a direct correlation as to what caused Lanza’s odd behaviors caused him to SNAP!
For those who refuse to deal with their anger, it unfortunately seems to be taken out on the innocent, who become victims of an individual’s mental breakdown. In this way Lanza is not the only one.
James Holmes, 24, killed 12 people at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., in July, during the midnight premiere of “Batman: Dark Knight Rises.” On Dec. 1, Jovan Belcher, linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, murdered his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, 22, then drove to the stadium and killed himself in front of his coaches. A week before the Sandy Hook massacre, Jacob Tyler Roberts, 22, went on a shooting rampage at an Oregon mall, killing two people and leaving one in critical condition.
Like Lanza, these young men had their share of demons, anger and hurt, that might have even began to haunt them when they were young, innocent children. In fact, they were all elementary school-aged kids during the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. This shooting was also a result of two mentally unstable teenage boys who killed 12 students and a teacher, then committed suicide.
Looking at the plethora of shootings this year, well, I think my grandmother was right. We are failing our youth. Columbine should have been a wake-up call that the mental state of our youth is at stake and so our family units.
Another point my grandmother raised is, we only tend to pray and come together as a nation when tragedy strikes, but we fail to pray continually to prevent tragedies — like these senseless crimes against the innocent — from happening in the first place.
But, justice must be served and somebody has to be held responsible. So who’s to blame? In bitterness, many might blame God. But God gives us free will to choose right from wrong. God is not an evil God so He has no evil to give. Maybe the National Rifle Association is at fault. But, guns do not have physical emotions or hands and feet to walk and shoot people. People kill people. I do agree with my editor, Jim Zachary, that guns are way too accessible nowadays, especially to those individuals who have mental disorders like Lanza.
However, I say we should all point the finger at ourselves. Like the old African proverb reads, it takes a village to raise a child, something we have drifted far away from. Today, our culture no longer lives by the nuclear family value system. Instead, we have a developed a new ideological belief system when it comes to family — “just do you” — and if you have been hurt or abused, we tend to have a “just get over it attitude.” A recipe for mentally unstable youth.
We need to stand together as one nation and reincorporate the biblical principles of what this country was founded on, discipline our children, take mental disorders more seriously and pray for the minds of our youth, to prevent another unwarranted shooting against the innocent from happening in the future.