For the week of April 28, 1999  thru May 4, 1999  

Enough blame to go around


Who’s to blame for the shooting deaths of 12 students and a teacher by two fellow students at Columbine High in Colorado?

Shall we blame our culture in which business profits while parents struggle to control the violent images to which their children are exposed in games, music and movies every day?

Shall we blame the artists, the musicians and the filmmakers who create ever more shocking art for the mass market?

Shall we blame our politicians for not enacting better systems to ensure that underage youths cannot buy or carry guns?

Shall we blame our schools where from the first grade on kids spend more time than they do at home with their families?

Shall we blame the parents of the shooters for not knowing their sons were disturbed and seriously planning to destroy their high school and the students who they believed had wronged them?

Shall we blame the guns themselves, simple human-operated machines that they are?

Shall we blame the police for not intervening more quickly?

Shall we blame Baby Boomers for the self-indulgent priorities they brought to adulthood and to the marketplace?

Many say the blame game is counterproductive. We don’t think so. There’s plenty of blame to go around and plenty of reason for it to stick. It’s only counterproductive if blame is placed on a few so everyone else can avoid responsibility.

Responsibility is something a lot of people want to avoid, especially for something this awful. Yet, the Columbine High shooters weren’t sprung, guns loaded, from the ether. They are also not the first teens to have executed other students.

It’s time adults got a grip. It’s time we stepped away from the denial about what is happening to kids. It’s time to take responsibility for our cultural contradictions.

We are entertained by violence, yet demand peace. We say we love kids; we shower them with the fruits of commerce, yet we deprive them of time and love.

We demand that schools and the legal system "do something" about poor behavior, while ignoring the fact we may be poor role models. We issue "do as I say, not as I do" edicts and wonder why they fail. We hide and hope bad things won’t happen.

The killings at Columbine High blew away the standard excuses about bad neighborhoods, race issues and single-parent families.

It’s all of us, stupid. It’s time to face it, quit making excuses and get to work re-creating ourselves and rearranging our priorities.

The richest country in the world is raising sick kids. Luckily, we know how to do better, with family-friendly school and work schedules, parent-training programs and early intervention in bad behavior.

We know about restraint. We know about values. We just have to do the hard part—live them and teach kids how to live.

 

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