Everyone can agree that the horrific massacre of innocent grade-school children in Newtown, Conn. was truly monstrous. It was an event that defies the imagination to conceive how someone might do something so cruel and inhuman. Worse yet, this is not an isolated incident. Similar cases are occurring with greater frequency, prompting many to ask what is to be done.
While many will admit that all these shootings are monstrous, few will call these gunmen what they are — monsters. The descriptions that the media circulate generally describe these young men as quiet loners, misunderstood students, misfits, mentally disturbed individuals or other such labels that somehow imply a profound mystery deep inside their souls that we really cannot understand.
Yet there is no mystery. Why not call a spade, a spade? The dictionary defines a monster as “one who deviates from normal or acceptable behavior or character; a person of unnatural or extreme wickedness or cruelty.” These individuals no longer felt constrained to behave normally.
Perhaps the real reason we experience difficulty in calling these murderers monsters is because it somehow implicates the nightmarish course our American way of life as a whole has taken. When our pursuit of happiness is based on the false premise of complete freedom to do as one pleases, there are no limits to the fantasies that can be entertained. There are no social norms that have to be respected.
The moral order has broken down. The reason why these individuals acted the way they did is they simply accepted no restraints and took this false premise of doing anything they want to its logical consequences in the monstrous, abnormal and bizarre.
Moreover, they were raised that way. These are not individuals living in abject poverty. In fact, they were pampered with everything they wanted. These are the spoiled children of a frenetic society without restraint. They were spared every effort or suffering. They were not taught order, responsibility and duty. They were not told “No” at the right times.
We find absent in their lives all the elements that contribute to the mental stability of youth. Nearly all of these young men are the result of broken families, divorce and shattered lives, which we must admit contributed to their mental instability. They did not have the warmth and security of a healthy family to support them and aid them in their journey through life. They rejected the moral compass of religion to guide them in their purposeless lives.
Worst of all, they live and immerse themselves in our general culture that glorifies violence, sexualizes everything and relativizes the sense of right and wrong. They surrounded themselves with movies, video games and entertainment that are full of brutality, vulgarity and sensuality. They believe the purpose of life is the instant gratification of their desires. They lived in the shadows of bizarre sub-cultures.
And yet we wonder why we have these gunmen? Perhaps we might better ponder why we have so few. Among the youth of our days, there is a volatile subset of individuals that we have raised as monsters. They live among us and defy all possibility of detection. They are like ticking bombs ready to detonate with extraordinary cruelty when their lives break down.
The question remains as to what measures might be taken to resolve the problem of this lost generation of monsters. There are already cries for better security, more control on firearms and more federal funding for social programs. However, none of these “solutions” address the problem of how to stop raising monsters.
Where are the calls for stronger families? These young men needed strong father figures together with compassionate and principled mothers. Will no one condemn our culture of violence, sex and death? Will no one dare to teach the duty, restraint and discipline children crave and need for their formation? When will we see role models for these young men to inspire them to moral behavior or heroism? Should we not teach our youth about religion, morals and God’s law instead of moral relativism? Such politically incorrect calls for reform will probably not be heeded, and yet they are urgently needed.
Meanwhile, the public is threatened by this generation of poor monsters that we raised and who now live undetected among us. It should surprise no one that law-biding citizens seek to arm themselves as a protection against this threat that is turning even a trip to the supermarket into a dangerous adventure.
We need to address the real issues. We need a return to a moral order. If not, nothing will be resolved and we will be condemned to see this tragedy repeat itself. Indeed, the pain of this latest tragedy will gradually fade. All we will hear are new calls for gun control as we wait for the next monster to appear.