Friday, December 21, 2012

Frustration and Futility

Like most people with children in elementary school, December 14, 2012 will stick with me for a while.  A good many of my friends on all sides of the political spectrum were similarly outraged.  Many of us expressed frustration at why it is we can never stop this kind of atrocity.  Like most people we looked for reasons, we wondered what would possess someone to do something so horrible.  We all wanted to blame someone or something.

Like most people, I engaged in a series of conversations and debates with people about gun control, mental health care, rights, liberties, the law, politics etc.  Often times, I found myself cautioning patience, let's not overreact, haste makes for poor legislation.  It did not matter if the legislation under consideration was gun control or mental health or school security or what not.  I just think everyone was frustrated.   Jeff Jacoby
does a fine job explaining why we should take a deep breath and grieve at these times and not try to make any kind of policy decisions:

The desperate need for answers – better yet, for an answer – is always palpable after a Newtown, an Aurora, a Columbine. That urge to turn back cruelty, to find effective responses to anguish and pain, is so intensely human. The yearning for an end to suffering runs deep in our species, and at its best has been a powerful force for justice and progress. "We can't tolerate this anymore," President Obama said in Connecticut on Sunday. "These tragedies must end." At the level of heart and gut, who doesn't share that feeling?
But tragedy will always be part of the human condition. Some evils we can never hope to eliminate – not even with the best will in the world. No regulation or reform can undo all homicidal insanity. Still less can legislation guarantee universal integrity and decent character. It will always take more than law and politics to make men and women kind, honest, and moral.
None of the nostrums prescribed after this year's shooting rampages in Connecticut and Colorado would guarantee that nothing like them will ever recur. Stringent gun laws haven't prevented frightful massacres of students in Norway, Germany, and the United Kingdom. There were mass killings in America long before there were video games – and long before the Supreme Court ruled prayer in public school unconstitutional.
Nightmares like the one in Newtown are rare. Yet a free society cannot make them absolutely impossible and still remain free. Good laws can do a lot, but they will never abolish all human evil. For that, there is ultimately only one answer: the cultivation of human goodness.
(Links in original).  In a few paragraphs, Jacoby has summed it up.  All the legislation we are talking about is meant as a reaction to something bad, something evil.  But the only antidote to evil is cultivating human goodness.  But we has humans have to be mindful that evil exists, we just have to do our absolute best to blunt its effect in our daily lives.  And when tragedy strikes (and it will) we should look to to courage, the heroism and the positive reaction of those involved--because there always is that present.

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