Fading values

The pain, the hurt, the fear, anxiety and so much more will continue to reverberate across the United States and the world for some time as a result of the senseless killing of 26 innocent people in a school in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday.

There can be no doubt that when 20 year-old Adam Lanza walked into the Sandy Hook Elementary School, which he had attended as a boy, armed with his own personal arsenal, that he intended to do maximum damage. And he succeeded, in the process creating one of America’s worst mass shootings ever.

But it will be a while before medical, forensic and law enforcement personnel begin to unravel the events that would have led to the killing of 20 children ages six and seven years, and perhaps even longer before that country can come up with some way to end the carnage that has become almost routine.

Already the anti-gun lobby has raised the issue of the ready availability of guns in that country, while the pro-gun advocates are gearing up to defend their “constitutional right to bear arms”. What there is no doubt about, is that if guns were not so readily available persons like Lanza would not be able to stockpile and then eventually turn their weapons on the innocent.

But is this the real problem?

We do not believe the question relates only to the United States, but that the answer has immediate relevance for us in Barbados as well. Yes, we have been fortunate not to have suffered any event of the type that unfolded in Newtown last Friday, but there can be no doubt that on our little rock those who would seek to do harm to individuals and our way of life appear to be able to acquire deadly weapons with little difficulty.

That having been said though, the issue is not so much the guns as it is the growing disregard for the lives of others. When a young man will take the life of another his age for something as worthless as a pair of shoes or a $20 gambling debt, the problem is not the weapon, but the quality of humans we are breeding.

It may sound like a clich?, but when all the shouting is over the real issue is “values”. When we value worthless possessions more than life, society has a problem. When children are taught, often by adults, to bully peers who they see as weaker than them, society has a problem. When we feel wronged, and perhaps justifiably so, but somehow seem to have missed all the lessons on turning the other cheek or measured response, society has a problem.

When we drive, not in Beirut, Damascus or Baghdad, but Barbados, and are upset by the fact that we have been overtaken by someone else, to the point where we would want to use our vehicles as deadly missiles, our society has a problem.

When telling a fellow citizen that it is uncaring and unsanitary to drop the fast-food container at the side of the road when a trash bin is just metres away can evoke the vilest of responses, laced with threats to kill, our society has a problem.

The problem with today’s human is not the availability of weapons that makes it so easy to kill large numbers at once — even though that is a contributor — but the callous thinking that governs so much of our actions. That’s what our society must attack!

Until we are able to come up with appropriate ways to achieve change in this area, we are going to continue to see such events, even in places where it was not thought possible — like Newtown last week.

Could it possibly be Bridgetown next week?

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