Saturday, February 16, 2008

Maybe It's Us

The recent shootings at Northern Illinois University have brought a lot of issues to the forefront. As we look for solutions or reasons why the shootings happened, we'll go over the usual culprets. But there's one that we always seem to overlook.

Maybe it's us.

Yes, we're not the ones who gave the shooter the gun or bought the bullets. We aren't the ones who pushed the shooter to take the actions he did. We aren't the ones who made Northern Illinois University a "gun free zone." Most of the people reading this have no direct connection to the shooter or his actions.

But indirectly, we might have an impact we don't see. Our society has gotten darker since the early 90s, and, no, I don't pin this on Bill Clinton's Presidency. Clinton's ascension was a symptom, not the cause. Thanks to a combination of a seemingly sound economy and the lack of a known enemy, we had no real concerns, so we did what most people would do: we started looking for ways to make our own lives better. And what we did was loosen the morals a bit, make greed and excess cardinal virtues, and let the end all and be all of our existences ourselves.

Now, consider that at the same time we were becoming me-monkeys, there was a corresponding rise in communication technology. Personal computers, online services, cell phones, text messaging, and other advances have made it possible for people to become dehumanized. Also, don't forget the rise in use of video games, especially violent games like "Doom" and "Grand Theft Auto." Again, symptoms, not the cause.

So what is the cause? The environment we created and have not thought through in our rush for bigger SUVs, more expensive coffee, and faster downloads of internet porn. In building up our castles, we have made the walls so strong that few other people can get inside. That creates an echo chamber where the only voice we hear is our own, and the only one we feel answerable to is ourselves.

Could the Northern Illinois University shootings have been prevented by someone breaking through the shooter's personal barriers? I'd like to think so, but it's only speculation at this point. By ignoring our fellow human beings and their needs, even if it comes with a slight inconvenience for us, we make our world a little darker, which only drives some even further inward. What would change this condition?

Maybe it's us.

1 comment:

Stella Rondo said...

That young people with mental problems who are more than likely to be:

1)unmedicated and unhospitalized
(thanks, Thomas Szaz!;)
2) socially awkward;
3) resentful;
4) fans of the bloodiest of video games;
5) constantly subjected to TV programs and movies promoting the worst kind of violence for entertainment; or
6) generally held unaccountable for their actions

should do something like this should surprise no one. What should surprise us is that given the crap culture we now have (thanks, baby boomers!) this kind of thing doesn't happen more often.