After reading this evening that for the fourth time this week, someone in the United States has been shot and killed at a school I can only think how we’re failing our kids. Yes, I know that language is the rhetoric of politicians, but it’s true. Look at our popular culture, so rife with violence. Look at our reality shows that mock people’s self-esteem for entertainment. Most of us, so hardened by years of unremitting violence in the media, hardened by shows that wouldn’t know empathy for another human being if it hit them over the head — most of us have grown blind to its effects on the young.
But put yourself for a moment in the mind of a teenager, a young adult, someone who’s just a little more sensitive to the world than you are, someone who may not have had the social support system you have taken for granted your whole life. The world of violence is scary for this person: the endless message is “the world is not safe.” Meanwhile, the media — the only place a social outcast can turn to in the absence of reliable peers — promulgates the incessant message: if you’re not cool, sexy, fit, talented, then you’re unlovable. Goddamnit, it’s hard for a sensitive person to filter out the unrelenting crap, the literally evil shit like TMZ, American Idol (there is the biblical injunction against worshiping idols, after all) — this shit that does nothing but criticize other human beings, make us all seem that we’re either part of the “in crowd” or we’re dirt. But, oh, if you pick that briefcase and win a million dollars, if Simon picks you, if you’re “Top Model,” then everything will be OK.
Now, I’m not making excuses for anyone who picks up a gun and decides to kill another human being. That’s downright disgusting. But I’ll bet my honor that when news of this murder has settled, you’ll find behind it one kid who was so disaffected he had no self-esteem, no one left to turn to but a gun. And, you know, we really need to fucking change that.