In my opinion, nothing anyone writes or says about the recent Aurora, Colorado, shooting-and-wounding-spree horror wil ever sufficiently prevent other tragedies of that nature from recurring. Watching last Sunday morning's news-talk programs, all the opinions expressed by everyone from George Will and Cokie Roberts (ABC-TV's THIS WEEK WITH GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS) to Chris Wallace and his Sunday panel (FOX NEWS SUNDAY) were obviously all in synch, but aso in synch were the conclusions these sorts of acts will probably never cease as long as some human beings are mentally askew. The deranged and violent among us are fewer in number than the majority of us, but nonetheless, as dangerous as an entire army. We learned that, sadly and horrifically, on 9/11/01.
Why would some rather do harm than not? Again in my opinion, there are only three factors: Cultural mores, permissive or uncaring parenting and ancient hatreds. Starting with the latter, CNN aired a live report from Timbuktu (Tombouctou) a couple nights ago, chronicling the current decimation of thousands of ancient shrines in that fabled, and at one time flourishing capital of African trade routes from North to South, now situated in the nation of Mali. The report showed militants destroying Timbuktu's historic relics and sites, for the primary purpose of "taking over" the relatively defenseless populous and their city. The report also showed the primitive shelters of those who had fled the militants, and now huddling in Chad on the Chad-Mali border. These sorts of egregious atrocities unfortunanetly occur continuously throughout our globe. Why do any people want to bully and "rule" others? Perhaps simplistic, but I think nonethless true, the adjectives would be power and ego. When one really thinks about it, in my opinion, those two words probably describe the universal bases for all anyone with the shallow need to "win" espouses. Sadly, but again simplistically, apparently none of them care about, or have heard of, The Golden Rule, which, again in my opinion, truly IS golden.
Can parenting, from day one, also be a major factor to prevent good children from developing into adult monsters? I think so. Arguably, probably none of our parents are or were possible candidates for Sainthood, but my late mother was, to me, one of those who could have come close to that level. The reasons, to me, are manifold: She cared that I learned right from wrong, from the very beginning. One of her favorite sayings was, "Let your conscience be your guide". Did I always act in good conscience? Not always, for which I have regrets, but I've never intentionally hurt anyone, and always knew what "right" and "wrong" were, thanks to her persistent tutelage. In addition, she wanted me to learn everything about the world, people and the written and spoken word, by the time I was two! :) Not really, but it certainly seemed that way, and thanks to her superb knowledge about so many things, I was either blessed or cursed with a care for quality and anything approaching perfection, from spelling and pronunciation to sartorial appearance to geography and history to classical and jazz music (My grandfather on my mother's side was, among other pursuits, a Pittsburgh Symphony first violinist, under maestro Fritz Reiner, in 1938). She also, during a very sad period in our history regarding the races, also told me the only difference between all of us, regarding color, is the amount of melanin in one's skin. Otherwise, we're all brothers and sisters. She was one magnificent lady. In her high school yearbook, one of the signatories wrote beside my mother's name: "There is scarce a subject she can't discuss with aplomb". Did her nurturing allow me to wish to choose reason over unprovoked violence? I think so. I also, possibly naively, think enough daily parental nurturing is a major key to seed-planting of good over evil. She also had a saying about compassion for others, i.e., "I wish for you only what you wish for yourself".
If I live another few days, I'll turn 75 this coming August 5th. Just typing that makes me shake my head from side-to-side in disbelief, because I no more feel 75 than a 15 year old. Those who know me well are aware I sometimes have the playful mentality of a four-year-old, and I guess that's what keeps me mentally young. My two children, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren are great, but the youngest of the latter really bring me the most delight. Their innocence and wonderment about all they're discovering is consistently nurtured by their quality parents, and will, I think, provide a great foundation for them to become quality adults. In a Utopian world, i wish that could be the case for everyone. In my opinion, it really should not be that difficult to achieve.
In sum, just as has been the case for everything from 9/11 to the Oklahoma City bombing to the Virginia Tech and Fort Hood massacres, empathy and sympathy for the Aurora victims will no doubt also be justifiably archived by all soberly aware of the existence of monsters who wreak such senseless havoc, as well as the need for them to not be able to easily continue executing their heinous acts.
Thanks for taking the time to read these blogs and for also possibly viewing my webcasts at www.startribune.com/video. The webcast subjects change every Monday.