No easy solutions to tough problemsAs our nation struggles to cope with the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, we are asking two important questions: why did this happen, and how do we prevent it from happening again?
By: By Charles P. Shingledecker, Superior Telegram
As our nation struggles to cope with the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, we are asking two important questions: why did this happen, and how do we prevent it from happening again? Both are thoughtful questions that should be the precursors to a much larger conversation about the state of our culture and society.
Unfortunately, those on both sides of the political fringe offer up extreme explanations and more extreme solutions to the problem, and are already preventing us from having a serious dialogue that is desperately needed.
One of the more dubious explanations for the Sandy Hook — and similar tragedies — is we simply need to arm everyone with a gun, including teachers and principals. According to this line of thought, if all of our teachers are armed, then the next time a gunman enters a school with the intention of murdering innocent children, your friendly English teacher can morph into the Terminator and take out the assailant.
Apparently, dedicating one’s life to the education of future generations will not only require dedication, love and a college degree, but six months of military boot camp.
The frightening thing about this “solution” is the sheer number of Americans — including members of Congress — that believe this a perfectly reasonable method to prevent future horrific acts of violence.
For example, Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas wished Sandy Hook principle Dawn Hochsprung “had had an M-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out and she didn’t have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands. But she takes him (the shooter) out, takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids.”
Of course, not everyone believes guns are the answer to the problem. For example, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee argued the Sandy Hook tragedy occurred because we “systematically removed God from our schools.” Furthermore, Huckabee claimed that the best way to solve the problem of violence in America is to bring God back into the school system, and subsequently, the public sphere. This makes perfect sense. After all, the history of religion shows us the more fervent a society believes in God, the more peaceful they are — well, except those societies that perpetrated the Crusades, Inquisitions, European Witch Hunts, the Thirty Years War, the KKK, and Islamic terrorists flying planes into buildings. Other than that, believing in God always leads to safer societies, right?
These are only two of the more unique “solutions” offered up during the last week. But are they realistic? Will having a flock of gun wielding educators really be the best way to prevent future tragedies? Will invoking Huckabee’s particular interpretation of God, banish violence and heal our nation? Is it realistic to think that a problem of the size and magnitude of this can be solved within the course of a 10-minute interview on Fox News or CNN?
Yes, it would be nice if the ills of a nation of more than 300 million people could be solved as easily as flipping a switch or buying high capacity magazines at a gun show.
As human beings we constantly seek out simple solutions to vast and complex problems. Unfortunately, most of the solutions we’ve heard thus far — everything from banning guns and video games, to bringing God “back to America” (as if America had some sort of authority to ban the Creator of the Universe) — aren’t solutions at all.
They are simply frightened people’s attempt to deal with a tragedy that has outstripped one’s internal coping mechanisms. This is understandable.
The people in Newtown, Conn., and across America, are still in shock over what happened Dec. 14. Yet if we are to solve the problem, there must come a time when we all realize the frightening truth: There is no cure-all for America’s cultural and societal ills. Arming people, as if we were living in the Wild West, is not the solution. Converting people to one’s particular brand of Christianity — or any religion — is not the solution. There is no one solution to a problem as vast and complex as this. The answer lies within our willingness to understand all sides of an issue, then to cast aside our personal ideologies, and do what is best for those whom we claim to care for the most.
Seeing all sides of an issue, and putting others needs before our own, is becoming a lost art. It has been done before, and we can do it again, but it will take courage, dedication and a willingness to look inward and discover what it is we truly cherish in this world.
Charles P. Shingledecker lives in Solon Springs.