Charleston

I’m going depart from my usual type of blog post to comment on a recent tragic event. The murder of nine good people in Charleston. It really is not my intent to anger or upset anyone with this post, thought I may, but to provide some food for thought. I’m sure someone will point out any faults in my logic, and that’s fine so long as it’s pointed out with civility.

So, here we go:

No doubt this horrible event will evoke the following all too predictable reactions among the media and political pundits in this nation:

1. Race relations are horrible in this country. Why do whites hate everyone else?
2. Why is the act of one lone gunman an indictment of all white people in this country?
3. Are you sure the shooter wasn’t a Muslim?
4. Gun control would have prevented this (he got the weapon to easily).
5. Less gun control would have prevented this (if only those poor people had been properly armed themselves).

In fact, I’ve seen all these comments already in the short period since this event occurred and President Obama is already leading the charge to greater gun control and saying that these events do not happen as often in other “advanced” countries because they have greater gun control.

Now, I am not an advocate for gun control as a rule. Even though I can’t understand why any private citizen needs a military grade weapon. I mean really folks, despite what television and movies might lead you to believe there isn’t and never will be a zombie apocalypse and if we are invaded by foreign troops (or even our own) these weapons won’t help much against drones armed with missiles, tanks, grenades, etc. They are only good for taking out most of your neighbors (who may be as well armed as you) and I would hope that in the case of a complete breakdown of society that maybe we all might get along a little better instead of wiping each other out (yes, I know, I’m an optimist who believes in basic goodness in everyone – so sue me).

So, I am going to abandon my liberal roots here and suggest something else. Frankly, something more destructive and harmful to our society than any number of gun laws.

The shooter was said to have made some comments before opening fire along the lines of (and I’m paraphrasing) “you raped OUR women and took over OUR country.” Now this statement, if true, tells me a a few things:

  1. The shooter has a poor understanding of American history and doesn’t realize that the same thing could be said by any Native American to him.
  2. The shooter has no concept of the distribution of wealth and power in this country.
  3. The shooter seems to believe that women only have sex with men when violently forced into it.
  4. He felt powerless and a victim. Another sad indictment of the culture of “victimization” rampant in our society. Especially since the alleged shooter is a white male. Arguably the least victimized ethnic group in history.

Now, what also occurs to me is that of the items above two of them (1 and 2) indicate a poor education in both history and economics. The third item reflects poorly on his upbringing, social skills and possibly love life and I won’t comment further on this. The fourth is a bigger issue than I can even think about now. I don’t know why everyone seems to feel that they have been wronged and don’t understand that sometimes life just plain sucks. Maybe I can address this in a later blog.

But I will speak more to numbers 1 and 2.

What also occurs to me is that on the whole other “advanced” countries not only have greater gun control but that they also tend to invest more heavily in education and health care than the USA on a per capita basis. Why? Because in our ongoing effort to pay as few taxes – if any at all – as possible we continue to demand that cuts be made and those cuts usually come from education at all levels. On top of this much of the mainstream media, which despite claims to the contrary, includes FOX, Limbaugh, and other right wingers, suggest on a daily basis that science and history cannot be trusted (global warming, etc).

I recently saw some statistics which said that this next generation (generation “Z” – which does not stand for “zombie”) will be the most educated in history. I disagree. I think you can say that they will have the most degrees in history. But, I don’t think that they will learn as much. Regardless of the number of “advanced” college level courses we insist our children take in high school (and coming soon, junior high in Ohio). We continue to cheapen and dilute it with every election and every vote. Make college affordable again and you remove the main reason for pushing kids into the AP classes – cost. In my opinion, we as a whole would be better off allowing our students to progress through K-12 at the same speed to give them all a chance to absorb the information before being rushed into an advanced courses.  Let the brighter students mix and mingle with the others to discuss current events and other thoughts with their age appropriate peers. And most importantly, stop having the colleges and universities do the job of the high schools!

Likewise, we continue to push education as a means only to get a job. This has resulted in a devaluation of society of the basic liberal arts education which, in my opinion, is the most valuable (full disclosure, I have two degrees in English). Why? Because a liberal arts degree doesn’t teach you how to “do” something it teaches you how to think about something. How to appreciate art, literature, science, history. The very things which separate us from the animals. Things much more important than any job (yes, I realize that you can’t eat a poem – but I’m trying to make a point here). You learn how to think for yourself and to not blindly accept whatever some “talking head” or, as probably was the case here, some idiot online tells you.

So, what I am suggesting is that we as a nation must look beyond gun control and race relations for solutions to these shootings. We need to leave education to the educators and to properly fund and support them at all levels instead of wasting time breaking those “evil” teacher unions and removing tenure – both put in place to keep educators from being fired on a whim and allow for the free exchange of ideas – and start thinking about our children.

Gun control might not have prevented this latest act of evil but proper education might have.

Just my two cents.

NEXT UP: Civil discourse – How to Express Yourself Without Resorting to Cussing.

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