Thursday, September 14, 2006

The Final Word, For Now

I just watched our prime minister make a statement about the shootings yesterday. Following the statement, journalists asked a few questions.

Question #1 went to the heart of gun control policy and the laws. Question #2 went right to the internet.

I agree with Mr. Harper - today is not the day for politics. It is the day for support, to extend whatever help is needed.

Prior to his statement, however, they began to paint a background sketch of the shooter. It started with commenting that the polite, quiet boy had taken a dark turn, followed by notations that he 'stood out like a sore thumb' with neighbours commenting they wouldn't talk to him because he was weird.

It's the chicken and the egg debate - was he weird because he was alienated, was he alienated because he was weird? And what moral responsibility do we have to our neighbours?

Of course I wonder about all of this because, as many of you know, I was a victim of serious violence in my teen years, perpetrated by other teens, whom I didn't even know. It was 'anonymous' in that there was no personal connection, other than my reputation as a 'brain' and certainly my sister was quite known for her academic achievements. We were freaks.

So why did we turn out okay when others didn't? Why didn't it occur to me to solve my problems with a gun? Why does one person kill themselves when others kill strangers? I must say I admire Prime Minister Stephen Harper for saying that no matter what people are sent online it doesn't change the fact that they have a responsibility for their actions.

I don't have any answers on this, just the fear that we're going around in circles and not getting to the heart of the problem, whatever that is.


Eileen said...

I agree. It is too easy to fall back on easy answers that make us feel safe. (she was raped because she walked alone late at night. I don't, ergo nothing bad will happen to me) Life is more complicated than that- and people are even more complicated.

I think there is a balance between events and an individual's coping abilities. For example- do you think your writing, and your ability to express yourself in your writing helped you deal with the violence. You didn't need a gun because you had a pen?

Sandra Ruttan said...

"do you think your writing, and your ability to express yourself in your writing helped you deal with the violence. You didn't need a gun because you had a pen?"

Good point Eileen - and quite possibly that was why I went a different way. I think it's important for people to find a way to express themselves, through art, through writing, through photography, through knitting if that works. Perhaps that's the problem, we're doing something to stifle voices.

Certainly an intereting thought to consider.

Trace said...

I don't know, Sandra. We all went to school with 'weird' kids who were teased relentlessly. I went to school with one who was so creepy I was sure he'd end up digging up bodies by the light of the silvery moon some day. When I think of him today I still shudder. I wonder what ever happened to him.

All I know is that somebody who turns a gun on a crowd has some serious hostility and rage issues. Somebody who feels hard done by by society, and wants to make society or a certain sector of society pay. I guess it's just a different way of dealing with being made to feel like an outsider for whatever reason.

Read The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker. He talks about spree killers in one section of his book, and it's really facinating. Makes total sense too.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Thanks for that referral Trace - I remember you telling me about the creep, too. And, yeah, we all went to school with people a bit off.

I've watched some programs on spree killers, even interviews with some. It is exceptionally complicated, certainly no one thing alone creates the killer. Much more intricate than that, and consequently hard to deal with.

Gabriele C. said...

I was bullied at school as well (though not physically assaulted, not after I swept the floor with one of the bastards once) but it would never have occured to me to kill half of my class. Though I had some phantasies about returning one day with the money and power of the Count of Monte Christo and make them feel I could ruin their lives and only didn't because I was above petty revenge.

Why I would not have acted on it? Difficult to say, I'm not a Christian (and I never forgave them for making me socially dysfunctional) but obviously, I do have some ethical principles picked from books.

And maybe there's something about that karma thing and the worst bullies will have bad marriages and such. ;)

Christa M. Miller said...

I really, honestly believe it is because people are afraid to blame parents. After Columbine, the media kind of sort of intimated that the shooters' upper middle class lifestyles may have had a little something to do with it... but they didn't want to judge.

It's such a very hard line, though. As parents, we all hate to be criticized - to hear someone tell us they don't think, without walking in our shoes, that we're doing our very best.

However, there are those parents who aren't doing their best... and who do need a wake-up call. Often they have too much baggage to see clearly how to break out of their ruts. Sometimes they genuinely think whatever they're doing is best. And sometimes they're just plain selfish.

I tend to think that at that point, the heart of the problem is not something "society" or "the government" can solve. We're more distanced from each other than ever; the isolation has bred something like paranoia. While it's nice not to live so close to a ton of relatives who disagree with your parenting choices, at the same time, we no longer know each other well enough to understand boundaries. Which is why kids grow up with a skewed sense of what's OK and not OK... and not caring much about either.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Christa, since you're a parent you can say it - much harder for me! But I think your perspective is interesting. Unfortunately a lot of people have kids who shouldn't. I always think that's something people should consider instead of just pressuring people to have children. If you aren't committed to raising kids in a loving, nurturing environment it could have devastating results.

Yet there are no guarantees. Gabriele, your points are interesting. There must be some moral code within us that stops us from doing certain things. What is it? What is it based on? Hard to say. One thing I grew up with was physical discipline - you got the strap or spanked, and I'm not talking about little 'love taps'. Part of me understand protecting children from abuse. Part of me knows that I didn't do things because there were consequences.

But I think it's far more complex than that...

ivan said...

Far more complex indeed.

No doubt in your studies, you came across old Play Dough's myth of the cave.
We are only shown certain things in the media cave.
I am sure there are things the media are a little squeamish to reveal right now.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Good point Ivan.

And we should appreciate that there things even the media recoil at, although the gradual revelation of facts will drag this out for the rest of us and keeping us talking about it much longer.

Which is only a good thing if people actually try to generate some solutions. And if that were easy to do, it would have happened before.

Lisa Hunter said...

I once worked with someone so weird and crazy that I always had my eye on the nearest emergency exit. I was hugely relieved when he quit (to go to LAW school, of all things), and when he came back to the office for a visit, I locked myself in the bathroom until he was gone.

I knew he was nuts. I fully expect to see his face on the cover of a tabloid someday. But what can you really do, other than say, this guy's a nutcase and I have a hunch...

Sandra Ruttan said...

That's the thing Lisa - there aren't laws against being "weird" - you can't arrest someone for it. Very hard to look at how to prevent this type of crime.