As we ring in the New Year, a year that portends at least for now more of a "thunk" — a sound like that of a cracked bell — the overwhelming tragedy in Newtown, Conn., still haunts us. Our culture, like that bell, is as cracked as Adam Lanza, the believed killer of 26 women and children in Newtown, including his own mother 10 days before Christmas Eve.
Newtown haunts us because of its randomness and even more than previous mass murders, its senselessness … because of the innocence of the victims. They were women and little children for God’s sake. At school. Their little drawings celebrating and anticipating the holidays hung on the walls of Sandy Hook Elementary.
The calamity of it all — and our introspection of what we can and should do about it — tears at our souls.
President Obama during a Dec 16 speech in Newtown asked, "What choice do we have?" He went on to ask, "Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?"
While he talks a good game saying that a "comprehensive solution" to gun violence must be implemented, the president is focused on the gun control — or lack thereof — aspect of this tragedy.
Why? Gun control, especially now after the unbelievable horror of Newtown, is easy compared to the politics of a truly comprehensive solution to violence in America. But gun control alone will not solve our sickness.
It is politics that self-imposed Obama to no action on gun control during his first term. He likely would have lost the election had he tried to implement an assault weapons ban his first term. So he failed to pursue any real gun control legislation to ensure his re-election.
It is politics that emptied and then closed the nation’s mental hospitals in the name of expense and bleeding heart psycho-babble. How much is one little innocent life worth? This travesty of justice imposed severe limits on what we can do with people — like Lanza, Seung-Hui Cho (Virginia Tech), James Holmes (Colorado movie theater), Eric Harris and Dillon Klebold (Columbine High School) and many others before and since — who need to be committed and treated before they violently take and destroy lives and communities.
It is politics that trivializes, mocks and denigrates the importance of strong fathers in a healthy family. (See Homer Simpson of "The Simpsons," now the longest-running scripted show in television history. He’s trained a generation of children and young adults on "fatherhood." A truly good father’s firm hand, dedicated participation, and discipline (oh, how we hate this word in America today) might have made a difference in any one of our recent shooting tragedies, including Newtown.
It is politics that makes marriage and divorce too easy and homosexual marriage legal. We don’t need a parcel of studies to tell us that it is a mother and a father — together — that provide the healthiest environment for child-rearing.
It is politics that makes violent video games a nom de guerre for "freedom of expression" in too many households in America. While the Bill of Rights may prohibit making violent video games illegal, they’d cease to exist if we’d quit buying them. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist parent to figure out, nor should it take The American Psychological Association to tell them, that playing violent video games correlates with less caring children. It is beyond my capability to understand why Lanza or any child for that matter is permitted by their parents with no anticipation of ill-effect to take part in thousands of killings over hours of violent video games without negative consequences (as would happen in the real world). Instead, gamers get positive reinforcement by earning extra points or "lives" for every virtual murder they commit.
It is politics that takes God and religion from our schools, our communities, and our military. Stripping God and religion from public view loosens the anchor that held us moored to common ideals of right and wrong. Check the facts. Since the Supreme Court forbade the following simple and nondenominational prayer from being prayed in schools in 1962, our nation’s moral decay has accelerated substantially: "Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon thee and we beg thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country. Amen."
It is politics that has created a culture of death (as opposed to a celebration of life) in the United States. Violent media, abortion, and legal assisted suicide combine to precipitate this culture of death.
It is politics that has fostered a culture of selfishness, coarseness, and crassness, and celebrates taking more than producing. This culture is the antithesis of the one we need to survive, one of politeness, servitude, sacrifice, hard work, and giving.
It is politics that has replaced black and white absolutes with shades of gray. Right and wrong have been replaced with "whatever."
While we have to do something, gun control alone cannot be the central tenant of our solution to the unspeakable tragedy in Newtown if we hope to have any real success. But it will be. While there are far bigger problems than gun control that need to be solved, they won’t be.
President Obama made a plea in Newtown two days after the massacre that the politics shouldn’t be too hard to change. He said that the status quo is unacceptable. Since he was talking mostly about gun control, he’s right.
But he isn’t talking about the real, comprehensive change that would give us the best chance to never be haunted again by a tragedy of this magnitude. He can’t. The politics are just too hard. God help us. He’s the only one who can.
Barry Fetzer is a columnist for the Havelock News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.