The Key to a Safer Society is Impulse Control and Personal Responsibility
Should we blame video games, movies and the media for the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut? Should we blame the easily obtainable guns that attack our moral sense of right and wrong? Yes, yes, yes and yes, but that still is not the answer to the sickness that inflicts our society in the form of mass killings.
Last week I blogged about the incredible number of mass killings in 2012 that has shocked our collective consciousness. I presented suggestions to stem the rising tide of violence in society including personal responsibility education starting at the elementary school level with impulse control a major part of the curriculum; mandatory psychological evaluations for all kids starting in elementary school, some of which can be done using art therapy; and airport-security-type measures that can be implemented more smoothly by staggering student arrival times at school.
The NRA wants to put armed security guards in every school. Add a gun; stop the violence. This doesn’t pass the laugh test. Any student or other person such as Adam Lanza who is crazy enough to want to kill innocent children is crazy enough to get a gun into school and avoid the security guard. The only way to have a measure of comfort this can’t happen is by screening everyone who comes into the school building for weapons as we do in airports, courts and other federal buildings. Yes, the kids won’t like it and yes, it’s awful to even suggest it. But, we have to take extreme measures before another catastrophe occurs.
We do need gun control. The ban on assault weapons, which expired under President Bush in 2004, wasn’t the complete answer to stopping violence in society. In fact, the specific assault weapon used by Lanza would still have been legal to purchase. However, to stand by and do nothing is unacceptable. If we can save one life by re-establishing the ban on assault weapons it would be worth it. The worse thing is to talk about it amongst ourselves; hold Congressional hearings about it; and wind up with marginal or superficial changes in gun control laws.
The real answer lies in changing behavior. The sickness in our society is due to many factors. Yes, the entertainment industry has no conscience when it comes to the message sent through movies, television, and other forms of media. Yes, our own country commits senseless violence in other countries and it has been in the news and on television all too often (i.e., Vietnam and Iraq).
But the problem is exacerbated by moral absence in the form of parental guidance and the failure of our schools to teach ethics and personal responsibility. It’s almost as if “ethics” has become a dirty word in our society. There are no socially accepted rules of conduct any more such as honesty, trustworthiness, caring and empathy, personal responsibility, and the pursuit of excellence. We have a “do your own thing” mantra in our society today without regard to how our actions affect others. It’s a form of ethical relativism – my ethics are whatever I want them to be.
We no longer can stand idly by as a nation and watch as the cancer of mass killings eats at our very soul as a nation. Edmund Burke said it best: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men [and women] do nothing."
Blog posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on December 24, 2012