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December 20. 2012 8:38PM

Another View -- John Cebrowski: Seven reasons why we experience such tragedies as Newtown

I submit that events such as the tragic shooting in Newtown, Conn., have as their basis seven root causes that have eased into our culture in the last several decades, making our culture one of the most violent in the world. This is a multi-faceted, mostly self-inflicted cultural problem, a sad reality in which we must avoid the thoughtless tendency to cast blame in only one or two directions.

-- Cause 1: We do not uniformly respect life. We kill approximately 1.6 million people a year via abortions. We blithely tolerate these killings because they are not reported as Newtown was reported - and because the "law" facilitates them. How can Americans be so impervious to all that killing of unborn persons, yet so sensitive to the killing of only one or a few born persons? We can't have it both ways. The hypocrisy, the double standard, is extraordinary.

-- Cause 2: We have come to revel in violent entertainment. You have seen the movies, TV programs, videos, games, action figures and toys. You are all familiar with Rambo, 007, Jason Bourne, the Terminator, and a host of other action heroes. The more blasting, blowing up, bombs, fireballs, explosions, blood and stuff flying through the air the better. Mayhem sells. If the market buys it, someone will continue making it. We also see the violence in sports, i.e., wrestling in cages, "wiring" players in football to hear the hits, kick-boxing - pummeling the opponent while he is down.

-- Cause 3: We, as in every country in the world, have our fair share of people with emotional, psychological and mental disabilities or afflictions who can be, and often are, highly susceptible to the constant stream of violent messaging. We can only guess at the anger and frustrations many keep bottled in. Many lack care, medication and counseling. And to make the situation worse, family and friends who know of these disadvantaged folks sometimes do not reach for help for reasons of fear, ignorance, embarrassment or rationalized tolerance.

-- Cause 4: We have become a coarse society. We see it in a decline or total lack of civility. Dispute resolution has evolved from words to knives or guns. Someone who now "disses" another can really be asking for trouble. We see it in road rage, we hear it in increased profanity, and we experience it in rude customer service. There are too many people out there with an "attitude." We now have anger management seminars as the solution of choice.

-- Cause 5: We have quite a sophisticated array of available weaponry, amply demonstrated via our entertainment choices. I am a big supporter of the Second Amendment: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." I am also an NRA member. But understanding the gravity of the other six causes, management of the access to arms is overdue and needs major work.

-- Cause 6: Terrorism is now a fact of life. Acts of terror come into our living rooms, our iPods and the Internet in great detail almost daily. Horrific acts from all over the globe serve as models that can easily inspire those with grievances or those harboring perceived wrongs to do the same.

-- Cause 7: Finally, and most importantly, we have drifted from our faith and relationship with God. God has been taken out of our schools and much of the public arena. Many of us have deserted Him. The secularization of America is in full swing.

These seven causes are a toxic mix, a lethal cultural brew whose consequences should not be a surprise to anyone. We are reaping what we have sown.

These events will continue unless we at the individual and local levels take steps to correct and heal this culture. The most effective healing will begin by word and example from parents, students, educators, municipalities, mental health providers, business owners, pastors and rabbis.

I suggest we approach this culture problem holistically by refraining from, or attacking, all the causes as the case may be, and I am certain the massive amount of talent and good will on "Main Street America" can, must and will rise to the occasion.

Rep. John Cebrowski is a Republican state representative from Bedford.


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