How many times are we going to have to do this?
No, seriously. I'm sitting here, watching live coverage of another multiple shooting. And people keep asking the exact same questions: How can we guard against this? What happened? How many shot? Why?
Since it is still an ongoing situation, there aren't a lot of answers. The talking heads, at least on MSNBC, which is the coverage I'm watching, keep throwing out the same old platitudes, including that the shootings might have been "gang related". They're also making a big deal out of the fact that this campus is a community college, as if it should be self-evident that something like this is more likely to happen there than on a "real" (my word, not theirs, but clearly their implication) college or university campus. There's lots of mention of the fact that there are vocational and technical classes taught on campus, with more unspoken implications (you know these - that it's "lower class" people who take such courses, who might be more likely to carry guns and shoot people). It is also being mentioned that it is a "commuter school", another code word for "not a real college".
As someone who got a good academic general education at a community college before transferring to a four-year school for my upper division courses, none of this is making me happy.
There have also been numerous eyewitness reports that in this latest incident there was an argument taking place, and then the people who were arguing whipped out weapons and started shooting. It is still early days, and it may turn out that this is not the case. However, if that is what happened, I feel compelled to remind people that we do not live in the Wild West. We do not resolve disputes by meeting in the middle of the street, with twenty paces and guns.
I know. I've been harping on this since the Sandy Hook shootings last month. But, somehow, we've got to realize as a culture that violence - shooting or stabbing or strangling or poisoning or whatever - is just stupid and that we've got to cut it out. How did we get to the point where just offing the person who pissed you off, or offing a bunch of people if you're just pissed off generally, is seen as a logical, viable solution to the particular snit we are in.
Maybe I had an unusual upbringing, but I was taught, and I believe, that violence is never an answer to anything. And, I'm not just talking about firearm violence. I was brought up to believe that you don't go and punch someone if they've made you angry. So, I'm not just here to moan about the problems with guns. I'm here to say that if you're first impulse when you are angry or disappointed or upset about something is to hurt someone in any way, you need to examine your assumptions.
This isn't something that I started thinking about today. It is something I've felt strongly about for a long time, but it was brought into focus after a meme came across on my FB feed the other day (yes, I'm back to memes, too). It read:
Life should be more like hockey. When someone pisses you off, just beat the shit out of them then sit in a penalty box for 5 minutes.
I really don't think this is a healthy attitude. Not even in jest.
Or is it just me? Am I unusual in not wanting to hurt people, either physically or emotionally (which is just as much bullying as physical violence)? Am I out of step? Am I the one who doesn't "get it"? Do I need, as I've been told in the past, that I need to "grow a sense of humor" about violence? Or, am I not alone in thinking that maybe we need to start advocating more constructive methods of conflict resolution at school, in the workplace, and in life?