Saturday, December 15, 2012

An Open Letter to a Granddaughter -- Part I

It’s the day after the shooting in the very upscale private school in Connecticut.   

As you can imagine, I am deeply troubled by all these seemingly senseless killings.  This is one of those times when I badly need to share with – talk to – gain perspective from someone or several someones in your age group and your circle of friends.  Please understand that I am not trying to be critical.  I am groping for understanding, and because I don’t understand some of my comments may sound critical.  Please jump over that level of response.  Lets try to get to the place where we can talk openly and look for share understanding and agreement.  I am beginning to believe that solutions lie not in my generation, and only partially in the generation of my children.  WE are looking at the world with a different sent of eyes and experiences.  The solutions need to come from YOUR generation.  

Once upon a time we joked about “going postal” because it was the post office employees who in frustration walked into their workplace and shot people.  Usually their supervisor. Doesn't mean all postal workers are murderers.

Earlier this year a homeless man walked into a church office in Maryland and killed a priest and the church office administrator.  He was a man with known mental health issues, known to the church community through their outreach ministry to the homeless.  The shooter at Virginia Tech had known mental health issues.  So did the shooter in the theater in Aurora, Colorado.  Doesn't mean all homeless people or all people with mental health issues are capable of murder.  

Many of the school shootings involve a shooter who is somehow linked to the Goth sub-culture.  We hear that Goths are often loners, obsessed with death, heavily involved in role playing, often feel alienated, enjoy the shock value of their style, dress, and statements.  We are told we can recognize Goths on the street by their long trench coats,  black clothing and extremely light make-up, by multiple body piercings, "weird" hair styles and heavy jewelry.  Does this mean that all role players are goths, that all online gamers or folks who suffer from depression are likely to commit mass murder, that everyone with body piercings is somehow tainted, that horror literature and vampire stories should be outlawed?

"I don't think so!" says she who enjoys fantasy games and fantasy literature, wears lots of black, has taken anti-depressant medication, has been known to wear two earrings -- in each ear -- and has been accused of "wearing some strange get-ups" after wearing a Hawaiian dress (as in more formal, not as in a garment with a skirt) muumuu in public outside Hawaii. 

While it is true that guns are a common factor in most mass killings, they are not the only common factor.  The component that I do not understand is the Goth sub-culture. While not all Goths are mass murders, it is true that many mass murders are Goths.   Help me understand what the sub-culture is all about, what draws one in, what holds him or her there?  Are we seeing another example of a reasonable belief being tainted by the polarizing views of extremes within the community?   Or is the whole sub-culture somehow tainted?   Is it important to reach out  to the lonely and alienated?  If throwing words at each other that neither side hears or understands is not communicating, how does an outsider speak meaningfully to a Goth? 

What about gangs?  Are gang members the opposite extreme from Goths?  Or are both cultures meeting the same needs in different ways? 
How can I touch one life to move it in a postive direction? 

Pray for open communication.  Pray for understanding.  Pray for positive social action.   
* * * * *

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments remind me that I am not writing into a vaccuum, or simply for personal therapy. Please comment often!