Newtown’s Other Victim and Terrorism

I’m charg­ing bold­ly into uncom­fort­able ter­ri­to­ry today: I’m going to relate the school mas­sacre in New­town to the rise in ter­ror­ism glob­al­ly.  I’m going to be look­ing at it from the per­spec­tive of the terrorist/shooter as a vic­tim.  There are uncom­fort­able truths here for us as a soci­ety.

Much has been said over the last few days on this issue.  We talk about gun con­trol.  We talk about school secu­ri­ty. We talk about straw-man caus­es like vio­lence in movies or video games.  These are com­fort­able things we can talk about inces­sant­ly.  Tak­ing posi­tions on them can even make us feel bet­ter.

Part­ly this is because we’re talk­ing about the obvi­ous vic­tims: the inno­cent vic­tims.  They play only a pseu­do ran­dom part in this scene.  They are all impor­tant indi­vid­u­als that we right­ly mourn, but they are also all “replace­able” in the sense that their involve­ment is due to their being ran­dom­ly in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But increas­ing­ly, we, as a soci­ety, have dri­ven peo­ple to extreme acts: either though action or inac­tion.  In the case of ter­ror­ists, we have gen­er­at­ed a world in which they feel they don’t have a place and their act of des­per­a­tion is part­ly in protest of this.  It’s more com­plex than I can cov­er in one blog entry — and I’m not sure I even have the right to pre­tend to under­stand.  Under­stand­ing oth­er than the fact that the “world” has allowed or even cause these con­di­tions to exist.

In the case of the shoot­er, I’m sure it is sim­i­lar­ly com­plex, but the fun­da­men­tal fact remains: we per­mit this woe­ful set of cir­cum­stances to exist.  For what­ev­er set of rea­sons that led to this act… we failed to treat his ill­ness or har­bor his prob­lems or help him in the way he so des­per­ate­ly need­ed.

I am delib­er­ate­ly mak­ing this an active or pos­i­tive respon­si­bil­i­ty.  We (as a peo­ple, of the world) are gen­er­at­ing ter­ror­ists and dis­af­fect­ed peo­ple at an alarm­ing rate.  Han­dling the after­math with addi­tion­al gun con­trol or school secu­ri­ty or removal of shoes before board­ing a plane: It’s all too late.

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