contagion

We have a ban on killing children and it’s failed.

People have reacted, after a fashion; some think we need a more granular banning, Others think we need to meet violence with violence. I think both approaches miss the point. People are killing children. Why?

Society is changing. As I write this, NPR is talking about changes in when young boys reach puberty: 6 months to two years earlier than when I was a boy. Why is it happening? I’m scared of the anger and hatred that I see in Facebook. I thought this past election was one of the most vitriolic I’ve endured, and the chest thumping on social media was difficult to take. Why is that happening? What are these things symptoms of?

From a 1999 paper at Stanford titled The Cause of Crime, its Effects and Rehabilitation

Once the army realized the inability of their soldiers to kill, steps were taken to create a soldier “willing to fire to kill.” The methods worked, and by the Vietnam War, the rate of soldiers willing to kill rose to 90%. Even as these methods are used in the military today to train soldiers to kill, many of the same methods are being found today in society. Through the media and forms of communication around the world, children are being exposed to the military’s methods of brutalization, classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and role modeling used to train to kill.

A society where we keep children away from violent movies and violent games is fine, but what about the 4 and 5 year olds who idolize and emulate older siblings without any clear understanding of reality? I don’t know. I don’t know the causes or have answers, just an awareness that there is something deeply wrong and we need to do more than nurse our symptoms.

I agree with my friends who react in horror to schools with armed guards; the presence means something that’s difficult to take. But why do we hesitate to guard our children when we readily guard our money in banks? And fast food restaurants? Although I hate the idea, isn’t there a very clear “either / or” in guards for schools? Either we correct America’s trend to violence or we will need to physically protect our children when they are not in our immediate care. Yes it makes me sick, but children being killed makes me far more so. What do we do?

I think one of the first steps is to be better parents. Expect more. Be involved. Let’s start there.

Changes

I’m about to enter the market for a new place to live. About is relative in a college town: with the freshman search for housing and the departure of graduates there’s a cycle that requires a decision on staying or leaving seven months before it happens. So I’m in the market for July. Everything happens in an atmosphere of imminent change.

So far, I’ve been spending a small amount of time wandering around a very small rural community about 25 miles from the roar of State College. I’ve had coffee in their coffeeshop, attended a wonderful event at their art gallery, and sketched on the street. They have internet access, they have a library, they have a bank, a craft brewery/restaurant, some cozy music venues, a laundromat, and one traffic light. One.

I’m not planning on basing my decision on the laundromat. It’s hard to tell if it will be around. But everything else, even the occasional horse and buggy, seems permanent. There’s much more to look at, certainly—an actual apartment, for instance—but so far, everything, including me, seems to be in a good place.