A few days ago, I wanted to write about my thoughts on the Oregon mall shooting, but I didn’t have a chance to do it yet.
Then, the events in Newtown, Connecticut occurred Friday morning.
But if I could have said something before today, the general thesis would have been this: As a mid-20s youngster, I’m a part of the generation that has beat its collective chest and declared we would be the ones to change the world. We’d be influential in the future, and the foundation for change would be laid now. People listened to us, too.
Man, are we squandering that opportunity.
What we heard about the Oregon mall shooting was that it was carried out by a 22-year-old named Jacob Tyler Roberts who stole a gun from his friend and went to the mall, killing strangers indiscriminately before taking his own life. He quit his job and “planned to move to Hawaii,” according to his girlfriend. He obviously had other things planned as well.
Details in the Connecticut massacre will pour out in the coming days. We’ll find out why the 20-year-old decided it was an option to kill a bunch of little kids because of his own mental problems. Police will find clues in the kid’s bedroom or car that would have broadcast to the world that he was troubled. But there’s a bigger problem here that’s more than a decade old and still hasn’t been solved.
My generation is married to guns, and seems to think that killing strangers is the way to make a statement.
It scares the hell out of me, and it gives me every reason to believe I don’t need to be bringing children into this world. My mind will probably change in a few years, but maybe it won’t. Friday didn’t do anything to ease me in the other direction.
You’ll also hear plenty from both sides of the gun control debate. I don’t think this is the time to worry about that, because there are families out there who will suffer greatly through a holiday season without their young child who was tragically taken away. I’ll just say this — one of the weapons I heard was used in the elementary school attack looked like something a solider would take to war. And if you need that weapon to hunt or protect yourself because a handgun isn’t enough, you probably shouldn’t have a firearm at all.
Somewhere along the way, my generation went down a path no group has traversed in human history. We’re the group that has to shoot up the school when something goes wrong. We’re the group that seems to believe that’s the way to work things out. And we’re the group that has finally graduated from schooling, so I thought this would end.
Yet we have a kid in his 20s still going back to the school, weapons firing. It’s truly unbelievable and it has to stop.
I’m not going to wait. I made a point to start taking an interest in the people around me since the Jovan Belcher situation that I wrote about. It’s not an easy adjustment when you’re someone who likes to keep to himself, a little too much at times. But when we see people hurting, we should reach out to them. It’s human decency.
Try to reach out to one person per day you wouldn’t normally talk to, especially if they appear to be hurting. It could be a co-worker, family member or even the cashier at the supermarket. Don’t pass up the chance to make sure someone is OK, especially if they look like they aren’t. Heck, it might save someone’s life.
It might even save your five-year-old’s life.