After posting about the school shooting in Kentucky a couple of days ago, the eleventh such shooting in the country since January 1, 2018, I had a friend ask me a question that stuck with me.
(By the way, every time I think it’s time to walk away from social media altogether, someone posts some question or some expression of kindness that draws me back in. I suppose that’s the beauty of relationships and being willing to talk to each other.)
The question that my friend asked was as follows:
Russell, as an educator, what are you seeing from young people in regards to the sanctity of life? Have they become desensitized, or is this more of a mental health crisis?
I’m not sure that my response was really worth saving and reposting here. I’m not sure that I’ve captured what I’m really thinking, but I think it is a start.
And sometimes a start is enough.
I do not believe that young people are desensitized to violence at all.
Nor do I think this can be blamed on a mental heath crisis (although, the stress of this life and our complete refusal to fund mental healthcare certainly exacerbates that.)
In my experience, they’re all too aware of the unpredictable nature of the dangers surrounding them.
What has happened is that they are losing their sense of safety and security. There are few places in their world that are untouched by violence.
This doesn’t desensitize them. I would argue that it has the exact opposite effect of making them hypersensitive to violence and death.
And it’s this sense of an absence of safety that harms them and causes a lost sense of the sanctity of life.
If even school and church are places of death and destruction, life doesn’t seem sacred at all, does it?
America’s love affair with violence as a cure for what ails us, our insistence that violence is the only appropriate response to anything less than adoration, our love affair with instruments of violence as our only recourse, is what I see as the central problem.
The mere possibility of infringement buries the art of peaceable assembly, of petition in seeking redress of grievances.
We’ve denigrated the outstretched hand and replaced it with the fist.
And we’re passing it on, everyday, to our children.