Growing up, I was a fat kid with horn-rimmed glasses. In other words, I was picked on, called names, and invited to fight more than once. I had teachers I liked and some I didn’t like very much at all. I also grew up with access to guns and ammo. The key to the gun cabinet was not hard to reach when I was a teenager. I also knew exactly where my dad’s police revolver was kept – in the top drawer of his dresser. Somehow it never crossed my mind to go into my school and start shooting – for revenge or any other reason.
Perhaps the issue behind these school shootings is not access to guns – though children should be taught to respect firearms. Perhaps it isn’t the issue of bullying – though children should be taught to respect and value others. Perhaps the bigger issue is that the underpinnings of our value system have been discarded. We tell kids there is right and wrong, but what do we base those values on?
We tell kids to be nice to each other, but if people are not unique creations of God but no different than a whale, polar bear or snail darter, on what basis do we expect them to act kindly? We have told them how to behave but have lost the basis for why to behave. If values are shaped by the culture and not by something higher, then values are no firmer than silly putty. Why should parents make the rules or teachers or politicians? Why can I not make my own rules? We are fashioning our own version of Frankenstein’s monster and we are somehow stunned that this creature of our fashioning turns on us.