(Photo: Canada goose in Central Park last night. A "threat" to human safety -- or a scapegoat for the real, life threatening problems facing us?)
Although this blog is dedicated and focused on wildlife issues -- particularly the current "war" on Canada geese, it is pertinent and relative to say some words about the violence and carnage that occurred in a Connecticut elementary school yesterday.
Sadly, news of mass shootings with high human casualty are no longer shocking or representing of "isolated incidents" in our country.
They have become almost part of the regular news feed.
We can consider no place entirely safe or "immune" from such catastrophic episodes. They can occur in shopping malls, places of business, churches, movie theatres or even schools.
What seems noteworthy in the current news coverage of this particular incident is how the mass murder of 20 young children and 6 adults is mostly being referred to as a "tragedy."
True, the event is a "tragedy" but not in the same way that a natural tragedy (such as an earthquake, tsunami or hurricane) might take human lives.
This kind of tragedy is preventable.
When I was a child, there was no such thing as mass shootings in public places.
Any "drills" we had in school were to learn how to escape a possible fire.
Now, children barely old enough to learn their ABC's have to be aware and instructed on how to escape a potential mass murderer.
What is wrong in that picture?
While prayers and vigils might be helpful to some people, the fact is that God is not in Congress or the White House and nor is God producing and directing current forms of entertainment in our nation.
We seriously need to begin to address the causes of such mayhem and random carnage, as well as the current cultural practices and values feeding into and sustaining it.
First on the list of causes is the fact we have become in many ways, a "culture of violence."
Violence is celebrated in movies, TV shows, books, video games and policies particularly regarding our relationships with animals.
To mature and mentally healthy persons able to decipher as "fantasy," violence in the virtual or entertainment worlds, this may not be such a pressing problem (though I personally have difficulty understanding any "positives" in this kind of brain altering and emotional blunting).
But, for certain vulnerable, impressionable, delusional, depressive or mentally unbalanced people, (especially among the young) this endless exposure to violence can act as "triggers" to extremely anti-social and violent behaviors.
While freedom of speech and creative expression are cherished rights in our country, I also believe we need to take some hard looks at the kind of stuff that is being continually foisted upon our young and vulnerable as "normal and desirable."
Parents, policy makers and those in the creative arts need to take some responsibility for the violent images we are constantly exposing the youth in our country to. Those creative projects and government policies that somehow convey the message that violence is the acceptable way to address and solve problems absolutely play a role in some of the violence and murders we are seeing both in real life and upon our own species.
It is a provable fact that violence towards humans often has its roots and beginnings in animal cruelty.
Studies conducted on serial killers for example show that most either tortured or killed animals as children. According to the FBI, cruelty to animals is one of the three "red flags" (or markers) in children indicating mental instability and potential, future violence towards humans.
But, as a culture, we do not take animal cruelty seriously -- especially when exhibited by children. Often parents and courts write off animal cruelty as "kids just being kids."
But, that needs to change -- as does what is passing for so much "entertainment" these days.
Whenever catastrophic mass shootings occur, there is usually the brief debate about guns that inevitably fades into oblivion as soon as the last reporter leaves the murder site.
That too, needs to change.
The NRA will of course use its old mantra, "Guns don't kill people, people do."
While it is true that millions of people own guns and most will never be involved in a crime, the fact is, when a powerful gun is sold, no one (including the NRA) can predict how exactly that gun will be used.
The gun might be used for target practice or shooting animals (again, highly questionable on the latter). It might also be used to commit suicide during a stressful moment or to kill a loved one in the heat of a dispute. Thousands of children and family members have been accidentally killed by guns.
Not only are guns almost always the weapon of choice in human murders and mass killings, but they are also the most efficient weapons in rendering quick death.
It would be impossible to kill 20 or more people in a matter of minutes with a knife or baseball bat.
While news of mass shootings have become almost routine in the United States, one would have to think long and hard to remember the last school or mall shooting in the UK or Canada (if indeed there have been any at all). Most of Europe in fact has strong gun control laws and it is extremely rare to hear of the kind of gun-related mayhem that is now common in the states.
It was reported that when questioned yesterday on gun control, lawmakers in Congress stated, "Today is not the day to discuss that."
Probably the same thing they said the day the Columbine shootings occurred so many years ago.
Obviously to our NRA-bought lawmakers (both Republican and Democrat) such day for serious gun control in our country will never come.
It apparently doesn't matter how many people and now young children have to die -- as long as we can keep our culture of violence, animal slaughters and guns going -- while also saying our prayers.
Now, lets go and round up some "nuisance" geese for slaughter.
It is not guns or mentally deranged people who are the real "threat" to humans.
It's the birds swimming in our local park lakes. -- PCA