Lost amid all the hysteria, hyperbole, and political opportunism of the past weeks since the murders of innocent schoolchildren and their teachers in a small Connecticut town, are calls for true wisdom and somber reflection.
We all make bad decisions when we’re emotional, a fact that only the serially dishonest or dangerously opportunistic would dispute. We tend to make our best decisions when we consider as many perspectives as possible of a given situation, weigh the intended consequences of a solution, and as much as we can, attempt to manage the risks of unintended consequences.
If we’re clever, we also build into the proposed solution mechanisms to rectify mistakes quickly, or provisions to roll back to a previous state immediately if the harm created by the proposed solution proves to be too great.
If we are truly, truly wise, we learn not to tamper with systems that have achieved a level of homeostasis, or balance, without very careful consideration and all due diligence.
The results of tampering with such delicately balanced systems in nature have been biblical in scale, from the “rivers of blood” in the Old Testament that may have been spectacularly vivid and toxic examples of “red tide” algae blooms, to the literal streams of human bodily fluids resulting from mankind’s most brutal battles. We must, as I’ve held out repeatedly in recent weeks, “tread carefully.”
After Sandy Hook, of course, we’ve been anything but reasonable. How could we be? An emotional, visceral response to such senseless violence is the sign of a sane and functioning human being.
No mother or father should be able to look into the eyes of the parents of those murdered children, and feel anything other than a deep and abiding compassion for their loss. I pray for them. I ache for them. I cry for them. I cry for the kisses that will never come, the graduations that will never be, the weddings, the births, and the christenings that have now been forever locked away in 20 small caskets and committed to the earth.
My God… how can you not be unmoved, and shaken to your core, by such loss?
That this tragedy was orchestrated by an odd, reclusive, dangerously ill young man largely forgotten and ultimately failed by a society in which he didn’t belong, simply compounds the loss.
Yes, Adam Lanza was a callous mass murderer who shot 26 innocent people repeatedly, and some may claim he is an example of evil. After all, we know that evil manifests in this world through the hearts of men. Try as I might, I cannot make that claim against him. He was failed, by us. Well-intentioned but misguided souls made it difficult for him to get the mental health treatment he so clearly, desperately, needed.
There are rumors that the byzantine laws regarding involuntary commitment to mental health facilities gave Lanza both the warning that his freedom was ending, and the time to lash out angrily against a world he must have felt was punishing him. Though I’m sure it won’t be popular to say so, I weep for Adam Lanza as well. Instead of getting him the help he deserved, we failed him. Our society, so worried about the superficial appearance of rights, created a situation that took away all his tomorrows as well.
We must grieve. We must cry and console one another. But we must remember that now they are beyond pain, and in the arms of an ever-loving, all-embracing and forgiving God.
* * *
My fellow Americans, we like the idea of “solutions.” We like the idea that if we declare we’ve found an answer, impose a new step, or tweak a process, that we can manufacture a smoothy functioning device. And when it comes to machines, that works… to a point.
But no answer is universal. There are never enough steps to take into account all variables. There are never perfect processes, and never perfect machines. Perhaps it’s a good thing, too, or most of us would be out of a job.
One thing every doctor, mechanic, computer programmer or priest can tell you, however, without reservation, is that elegant simplicity is usually best.
Doctors prefer bodies that are in optimal working condition, and deplore “complications” as one of the most dangerous words in their vocabulary.
Mechanics curse the needlessly complex, and admire the sublimely functional part that is easy to use, reliable, and simple to replace. Computer programmers—the better ones, at least—take great delight in refining their code into the most essential, lightest and elegant deployments possible, with no extraneous or unnecessary functions. No priest or minister alive asks for more of us than to simply give our souls to God.
Simplicity, more than cleanliness, is next to Godliness. Call it “intelligent design,” if you must.
Lawmakers in this nation, particularly in recent times, are particularly resistant to the thought of elegant simplicity.
One might guess that this is the result of the kind of warped and narcissistic personality that would expose him or herself to the perversely intrusive, maniacal, and vicious treatment of a thoroughly “modern” political campaign. To be deranged enough to want such a job means that almost by default you think of yourself as better than your fellow man, superior in most ways, and certainly far more intellectually capable that the voters you would represent.
To demonstrate their presumed superiority, our political betters seem ever-more driven to impose larger, more convoluted, self-referential and absurd laws and regulations. Perhaps they think a piece of legislation several hundred or several thousands of pages long demonstrates the complexity of their thinking, or their capacity to take a God’s eye view.
It actually serves to show the opposite. It means they lack the capacity for refinement and discernment.
* * *
The “answers” proposed in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School are in no way related to the crime or the loses experienced there.
Instead, what we have seen in New York, Illinois, Connecticut, Iowa, Washington, D.C. and elsewhere is a cynical attempt to use these senseless deaths to promote the long-standing beliefs of a political class of narcissists that think they are the solution to each and every problem.
Certainly, they’re using proposals to ban one sort of mechanical device or another, but what they’re actually advocating is the idea that they are smarter than you, smarter than the Founding Fathers of this Republic, and that if you simply impose to their ideas—poorly-formed, long-winded, inelegant, and self-serving in every instance—that the world will be “better.”
They cloak their arrogance, of course, the best they can, even though it inevitably shines through.
These political beings use buzzwords like “common sense” to describe those things that will benefit them personally the most.
To convince you that their best interests are your own, they hide their self-serving, opportunistic intentions behind phrase like “for the children” and “for the public safety.” Few things could be further from the truth.
If politicians in the 50 states and the nation’s capitol wanted to stop the next Sandy Hook, the next Aurora, the next Virginia Tech, the next Columbine, then they would focus like a laser on the true problem at hand, which is the legislative-imposed roadblocks to treat potentially violent mentally ill, and/or streamline the process to remove them from society before they can act.
It really is that simple.
Had the mental health professionals that had been aware of Adam Lanza, James Holmes, Seung-Hui Cho, etc been able to commit them to mental health treatment facilities without having to machete their way through a maze of ill-considered legislation, hundreds would still be alive.
The warning signs for each of these mass killers was there all along. In hindsight, each one was an obvious threat to society. But laws created by those who imagine themselves smarter and more complex than the citizenry at large left them on the streets to kill.
And yet some of you would consider listening to these same legislators, as they propose a new “solution,” blaming mechanical devices instead of their own murderously flawed reasoning and reams of logic-strangling laws.
We like to imagine ourselves advanced and sophisticated compared to previous generations. In some regards we are. In others, we are woefully, shamefully ignorant.
More than 230 years ago, the men who were to form the United States of America, were without a doubt, the most brilliant and forward-thinking minds of their day, and arguably, of all time.
They were imperfect—many believed slavery was an acceptable practice—but intellectually, they were the best and brightest that this continent has ever produced, unequaled to this day with their grasp of history and deep understanding of the ways of men, and many ways corruption can affect a culture, eventually bringing it to its knees.
Their masterworks, from the well-known documents such as the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights, to soaring speeches and lesser known newspaper articles and letters of correspondence between peers, portray a rare meeting and consolidation of beautiful minds at a time and place chosen by providence, unique in history.
Were you to tell them that 230 years later, after the trials and tribulations and the wars, that the ideals they espoused are still the most revered, I wonder… would they be relieved that their thoughts and ideals endured, or ashamed of us, that we’ve been largely unable to improve, despite all our unrealized potential?
Our political class in this nation, arguably beginning with Abraham Lincoln himself, determined that the Federal state was more important than the states themselves, and we have trod a shared path to destruction in the Gomorrah on the Potomac ever since. An ever-growing, ever-creeping federal government has been exalted over the states, the individual, and the Divine alike. It intends, in the end, to be the master of us all. It can serve no other purpose.
The tragedy in Newtown is just a reminder of the flaws and evils of government. Government created the conditions that led to this massacre. In response, government is responding by attempting to pass more laws not to prevent future tragedies, but intended to protect the government from a people just starting to awaken to the fact that the federal leviathan and many state government tread a dangerous path towards tyranny. government isn’t trying to protect the people. It’s trying to protect the government, from the people.
Such is history.
In the last century alone, we saw governments take the lives of more than one hundred million of their own citizens. This is more than both World Wars and all the small wars of that century, combined. Each life snuffed out was as precious and blameless as those in Newtown. Try to wrap your mind around the enormity of that loss. I can’t.
If ancient purges and modern genocides have colluded to teach us one unimpeachable truth, it is that their is no greater threat to the citizenry than its own government, grown too large, too self-important, too in love with its own existence for existence’s sake, and too arrogantly certain it is “too big to fail.”
We live in dangerous times.
The only rational response to such dangerous times and a rogue government is for a people to arm itself against the creeping tyranny, as Americans have done in the past four years, and especially these recent weeks as petty tyrants seek to squelch the greatest threat threats to their existence, and desires.
In 1799, Founding Father Tenche Coxe wrote in the Philadelphia Aurora as tensions rose between Federalists and Republicans:
Do you wish to preserve your rights? Arm yourselves. Do you desire to secure your dwellings? Arm yourselves. Do you wish your wives and daughters protected? Arm yourselves. Do you wish to be defended against assassins or the Bully Rocks of faction? Arm yourselves. Do you desire to assemble in security to consult for your own good or the good of your country? Arm yourselves. To arms, to arms, and you may then sit down contented, each man under his own vine and his own fig-tree and have no one to make him afraid….If you are desirous to counteract a design pregnant with misery and ruin, then arm yourselves; for in a firm, imposing and dignified attitude, will consist your own security and that of your families. To arms, then to arms.
No man wants war, but only a man blind to human nature and the history of nations would not prepare himself for it now.
We live in dangerous times.