Most commentary on the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School seems to focus on either the “gun issue” or the “mental health issue”. The gun issue debates more government control, while the mental health issue debates more demands on our already over-taxed health care system (no pun intended). I read Liza Long’s article, “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother” ( http://gawker.com/5968818/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother ), in which she calls for “a meaningful, nation-wide conversation about mental health”.
I presume the purpose for such a “conversation” would be to find answers to why these things happen and to find out what we can do to prevent this kind of horror from recurring. But nothing we talk about will benefit public safety until all parties agree on what we’re talking about. Gun control is a political subject and mental health is a generalized area of health care.
I do not pretend to be an expert on the subject, but I have studied it enough to know that mental health covers a very wide range of disorders. Not all mental disorders involve violence or impact public safety. Therefore, any meaningful conversation we have about mental health should be limited to the treatment of disorders that specifically threaten public safety. We don’t need to have a general conversation about mental health, which boiled down, is no more than a call for increased government spending. Mental health isn’t the issue.
As far as guns go, if all firearms were off the street tomorrow, mass murderers would still have options: bombs, incendiary devices, chemical and biological weapons or just driving a car into a crowd of people. Anyone with access to a machine shop can manufacture his own firearms. Take all the guns off the street tomorrow and more will be smuggled in the next day. To think removal of firearms creates a safer environment is naive and does nothing more than create a false sense of security, leaving us more vulnerable than before. Gun control isn’t really the issue.
Whenever we experience a disaster or a tragedy, our emotions impel us to look for a quick fix; an immediate and even drastic action that will make everything better. But wisdom tells us to be calm, fully assess the situation first, and only then, take action. I am not convinced that the answers to what caused the Sandy Hook massacre or how we may avert another such event will be found by exploring either the mental health issue or the gun issue. Gun ownership is a constitutional right. And when it comes to mental health, I do not trust the “authority” of so-called experts who over-diagnose mental disease and over-medicate children. Psychotropic drugs have actually caused psychosis in children (more information at http://whale.to/a/breggin_h.html ). And those are legal drugs. Illicit drug use also destroys our young.
If we’re going to have a meaningful conversation, let’s talk about God and what he expects from us. Increasingly, society has been accepting the removal of God’s influence on us. The ACLU continues to do everything it can to remove any reference to the God of the Bible from our government and public places. And they aren’t alone. Society in general is accepting more and more anti-Biblical values in our laws and practices — homosexuality and abortion, to name just two. Please tell me how anyone can expect a godless nation to produce godly, upright citizens?
American society used to embrace the Christian consensus. Going to church and reading the Bible were generally seen as indicators of strong morals and good citizenship. The public (even non-Christians) recognized that people who read the Bible and went to church were being taught to be righteous and responsible — not just as individuals, but as contributing members of their communities. They were part of the fabric of America, part of the character of America. Now, the religious among us are criticized as backward, bigoted, foolish and superstitious. Fewer and fewer Americans are even aware of what the Bible teaches.
For the record, the Bible teaches not to murder, but to love your neighbor — even your enemy. The Bible teaches that God gives us the gift of self-control; that we don’t have to be slaves to our base impulses. The Bible teaches that there is real evil in the world and that we are all prone to sin. But also, through the grace of God, Jesus has delivered us from sin if only we receive him. The Bible doesn’t teach hate or intolerance or condemnation. It teaches forgiveness, mercy and redemption.
Now, instead of going to church on Sunday, and learning things like the Golden Rule, today’s children are more likely to be sitting around playing video games with graphic representations of stabbing, shooting or blowing up a host of characters. Fantasy plays a bigger role in the lives of children than in the past. Fantasy used to be for the very young and it wasn’t very violent, compared to contemporary fantasy. Now, older children and even young adults get very involved in violent roll-playing fantasy as a form of leisure and entertainment.
That self-absorbed acting out of fantasies is the product of our permissive society. Instead of training our children in self-restraint, based on respect for others, we train our children in self-esteem, based on the secular notion that nothing is more important than the self. Saying, “No!” or raising your voice to correct your child is seen as destructive. Spanking is seen as injurious. The net effect of this philosophy of letting your child fulfill his every desire is a lack of boundaries and a lack of discipline.
Children need boundaries in order to feel safe. As they grow in confidence, they will push their boundaries. That’s the normal process. But if they don’t have boundaries or if the boundaries they do have are removed too soon, they can develop psychological problems. Today’s permissiveness has removed many of the traditional boundaries. Now, kids pretty much have developed the idea that if you don’t let them have what they want, there’s something wrong with you. The not-so-pretty offshoot of this is that fewer and fewer young people respect their parents or adults in general, which feeds a sense of isolation and abandonment.
Add the elements of isolation and non-restraint to someone who is already emotionally unstable and anything can happen. Is that just a mental health problem? I think it has more to do with the character of a people — a godless character. That’s the “conversation” we really need to engage in. We need to let God back in the public square. We need to teach the Bible in our public schools. We need to stop catering to homosexuals and other special interests whose main focus is their own pleasure. Responsible and compassionate citizenship is a matter of national character. That’s the issue.