The Backdrop Never Changes


When the tragedy of another school shooting unfolds, a legion of commentators, psychologists and politicians, combined with religious and education officials, all come forward with an impressive array of explanations and expertise, much of which is truly insightful and informative. Motivations for these unnatural killings of children by children are complex and they deserve our full attention, no doubt.

All of the analysis, self righteous indignation, and solemn debate misses what I believe might be a primary causal factor as to why America's children--rich and poor alike--seem destined to 'solve' their problems with violence. Not surprisingly, they are simply following the horrid example set by their own government, which most of the adults around them seem to likewise support. Often the obvious escapes the 'experts,' but those of us who have monitored the rising Iraqi body count, who have been chilled by the so-called 'collateral damage' inflicted on 100,000 Iraqi innocents in less than two short years, we do see that connection quite clearly.

Against the will of Pope John Paul II, against the will of the international community, and higher moral law, U.S. troops violently invaded a sovereign nation, to occupy its people and pillage its resources. The late Hunter S. Thompson wrote last year, 'We have become a Nazi monster in the eyes of the whole world ' a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully . . . get out of our way or we'll kill you.' Is it any surprise, then, that our own children mimic the representatives of power that they live under?

Everything we learned in kindergarten is slowly but surely unlearned, with every passing year it becomes clearer to kids that teachers who taught them The Golden Rule have taught them empty words, so obviously do adults ignore the words and rules themselves. Children's keen, absorbent minds are not fooled. The violent video games, movies and music are not the cause, but are a warped cultural reflection of the 'values' held by the resplendent modern-day captains of a pirate ship called the world's number one superpower.

The ship is sailing east now, fueled by their parents' tax dollars and/or propelled on its viscous journey because the adults at home are too numb, brainwashed or apathetic to pay attention anymore. Mom and dad either support or ignore the violent role their government plays in the Middle East and elsewhere. But either way, the kids get it, and by adolescence, when their brains and hormones are all tied in knots, those on the edge will follow through with the lesson that their well-armed government has taught. The keenly observed lesson is that violence is a sanctioned and approved tool to get what you want, and acting alone (unilaterally) is just fine. It is absurd to think that the children of empire are not going to model the monstrous behavior displayed by their own government.

So keep moving blindly forward, good parents, grab sullen little Johnny and take him to school in that gas-guzzling SUV plastered with magnetic yellow ribbons. Listen to hate radio on the way to school and snicker when you hear that U.S. Marines just took out a neighborhood filled with 'insurgents' in Iraq . Remind yourself to clean your hunting gun for the upcoming weekend trip, and don't bother to hug Johnny before he hops out of the car. Watch him saunter into school.

Finally, don't act the least bit shocked or surprised when the inevitable happens again.

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Kristina M. Gronquist's picture
Columns on STR: 10

Kristina M. Gronquist is a freelance writer based in Minneapolis. She specializes in foreign policy analysis and holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Minnesota.