Saturday, December 15, 2012

Man or Material? Who to blame?

More than 5 years ago, horrified at watching the events unfold on US national television, I had penned a post on the Virginia Tech shootings and my despair at events back home. Click here to read it. Since then a lot has changed. The Bush administration made way for Obama, Osama Bin Laden was killed, India won the World Cup and more. But as far as massacres go, nope, nothing much seems to have changed. The world witnessed yet another horrific school shooting yesterday in the state of Connecticut. Click here to know more.

The Americans fought for and against gun control back then and they continue to do it now. A lot has been said about why guns shouldn’t be made available to civilians. Individuals on the other side of the line have also vehemently pushed for stricter controls but not a ban - quoting the need for self-defense, hunting , yada yada. So do we say the gun is to blame? Ban or control gun usage to civilians and the problem goes away? 

Some 6000+ odd miles away, on the other side of the globe, on the very same day, a man went ballistic and slashed 22 elementary school children with a knife. No gun. This was not the first instance. Earlier in 2010, another man did the same thing. And there have been more precedents. Click here to know more.

I am all for gun control. And then, I am all for knife control too. While we're at it, lets hide the garden rakes, tube lights and anything within sight which can be used as weapons of mass murder. Where does it stop? It pains me but it angers me more on how reckless men can go around murdering innocent children. Yes, with gun control, we definitely would be lowering the odds of this happening, lowering the easy availability of such weapons of mass destruction. But somehow I fear that it won’t stop it. 

While the psychology of the US school shooter is unknown, it is said that job losses and frustration over the same triggered the killings in China. Tolerance and patience levels within humans are falling at a very alarming rate. And that is why, simply blaming the material won’t work because its the man who ultimately pulled the trigger. 

Like in the case of suicide victims. Personally I frown upon people who take the step. But sitting here, its easy for me to pass judgement that they're taking the easy way out and leaving their families to bear the horror and face the truth and bleed for them. But I also accept that jumping from a 20 floor building is not easy. I wonder what kind of helplessness drives people to take that extreme step, what is they find beyond repair that they're ready to jump to their deaths or slit their wrists and die a slow painful death than face the problems? 

Somewhere a thread ties back to these people too. Mass murderers. In the shooting case, I wish there were counselors who had spotted the warning signs. Most times you would expect the parents to do that. But in this case, if the shooter shot his father first and then his mother and others - aided by his brother - then its obvious that something was wrong in the family and how could the warning signs have been heeded then? In the case of China slashing - the recent one and the ones before - frustrations on losing their jobs drove them to such despair. I just feel extremely saddened by the turn of events and that with every passing year, it only seems to be getting worse. It’s as if for every person, we need a counselor, a shoulder, a fallback mechanism. And we have too less of them. The thing is how do you identify what events warrant paying more attention to people’s behaviour and attitude? 


Live and Let Live; a message to the Connecticut shooters
Copyright: Woodenurecover.com
I would love to hear your views!

21 comments:

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    1. Thank you Poorani :) Welcome to Kaleidoscope! Hope to see you here more often!

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  2. No matter how much strict the rules are made, psychotics like these will continue to do so. It us really sad to see such innocent lives being sacrificed. My prayers to the ones who passed away.

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    1. There has to be a way Harshal, there's got to be a way. That's what makes me so restless :( Obviously there are folks working to tackle the problem from both ends - Weapons control and psychology - but I wish the process was faster! Watching the innocent faces of those children, God just 6-7 year olds, it is so unfair :(

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  3. As you said even if we hide all things can become weapons, can we stop people from taking so many lives? It is so sad to read about such incidents knowing too well that nothing can be done to find out who can turn into a gun wielding fiend.

    Lazy Pineapple

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    1. I wish there was some way Vinita! How can all this happen and nothing can be done to stop them? :( I hate that it's so easy for children to become targets. How can shooting down children, or for that matter, defenseless men and women give such people a false sense of power?

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  4. What you say is true. It is finally human behavior that is to blame. But, I am also of the view that when a person is really stressed or angry and has access to a weapon, in all probability that weapon will be used. We saw it in the case of the Army Colonel shooting a poor boy who stole fruits from the Army Cantt. area tree. In stress situations like road rage etc., a gun at hand will definitely lead to a fatality. And with all due respect, if a person has a psychological problem, what right does he/she have to take it out on innocent kids?

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    1. You're absolutely right Rachna. That's where I have said that "Gun control would definitely be lowering the odds of such events happening, lowering the easy accessibility to weapons.". But it won't stop it. There's human behaviour too that would need to be tackled. And no, I am not trying to justify this behaviour citing psychological problems, such acts have no rationale. Nothing excuses killing innocents, children make the most defenseless targets, causing the most hurt all around. All I am saying is, could there have been warning signs? With human tolerance going down, we need more people educated in such behavioural analysis to deal with the likes of such people. I wish we could understand what makes such people react this way and then nip it in the bud. I make it sound so simple, don't I? I wish it were that simple. Sigh.

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    2. I do wish that the mother has sought help a long time ago. Definitely, the child needed professional help. It is sad that there is so much stigma attached to mental disorders and diseases and also ignorance. Attacking the root cause is the final right solution. But, in the meantime, let's do something about the guns as well.

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    3. If there's so much stigma even in developed countries, then what hope do developing and third-world countries have? :( I don't intend to desensitize this but there was an article that came out after it happened. I am Adam Lanza's mother. A few days back, I read a fiction novel by Lisa Gardener called Live to Tell. It was creepy and all along had me thinking if such people really exist and if its possible for a woman to be so horribly afraid of her own son. This letter tells me it is. :( I guess fiction is inspired by real life after all :(

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  5. Such sad news, I dont know why the man did what he did .. But whatever it is , its gives no one No right to have destroyed so many little lifes..

    I dont know what to say

    mankind is going downhilll


    Bikram's

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    1. :( I hate it too Bikram. I wish there was an easy solution, reading such news day in day out, crimes against women, crimes against the aged, crimes in general - hate crimes, religion, caste, economics - God, do we even need an excuse to commit a crime in today's world?

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  6. Deepa, I have ben thinking about it and there is no easy solution. One solution which might work is to provide regular mandatory session with a psychiatrist for the whole population of the country. It must be like having a voting card or an SSN number. I do not think there is another way out of the mess.

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    1. With the way things are going - both India and abroad - I wonder if there's only one solution. The problem seems to be having so many angles. Strict laws need to be implemented today. Upbringing needs to be ongoing. Mandatory counseling needs to be ongoing. Voting cards and SSNs would work if borders are sealed or if there's less population. With so many immigrant people, or with countries where the seams are bursting because of too much population like India - what hope do we have :(

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  7. Deepa , I do not think any kind of controls can change the human behavior! The world will always have psychopaths, who will strike at will be it in USA, Norway, Austraia or any other place, but the unfortunate part is when young children are the targets!!

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    1. Then cure / treatment of mental illnesses needs to advance by leaps and bounds. Psychiatry by and large is still a very much unexplored field today. The last few years have seen so many new disorders being labeled as mental disorders but I bet there's still a huge gray area. But for people who're not a prey to mental disorders, we still need a way to control human behaviour. Its going to take time, no question about that. Generations might pass by, if at all. Until then we would need stricter laws. Thank you for your comment Rahul!

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  8. Well, Deepa - The point is unstable humans have always been there and are going to continue to be there. An unstable man in prehistoric times would have beaten down two men with club before the others overpowered him and put him in confinement. A medieval man with sword could have run the sword through 7-8 people before he is overpowered. The current man with a gun can easily take down 50 people before he is brought under control. Imagine tomorrow a mad man with a nuclear weapon. He might be able to wipe out the entire human race. So it is becoming all the more critical to put these weapons out of read of any single individual, unless they have undergone training and their mental state has been thoroughly assessed.

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    1. That makes me sadder then. That even after so many years we still haven't been able to identify such individuals or heed warning signs. That even with so much history, we still don't know what's coming. With every advancement, all we seem to be doing is taking 10 steps back. Major monitoring of individuals and judging their need for weapons is becoming more and more a requirement.

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  9. With people growing distant, loss of joint families/close communities, migration to new areas for jobs.. the built-in detectors for warning signs are slowly fading away.. Really, what can we do?

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    1. I wish I could agree with you that when it was closely knit, we had built in detectors which worked. My personal thought is that now these incidents and labeling of disorders or problems as mental disorders has started. Earlier, when a kid was too difficult, there was always a good thrashing that could solve the problem. Any such mental problems were actually kept behind closed doors. I feel now there is help available. Its just how many people do actually avail of it. Just my 2 cents.

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  10. I just hope God gives strength to all those families. Sometimes things just happen, and no amount of law or security can avoid it.
    A striking similar thing happened in my family, the criminals are behind the bars but it won't probably take away the pain

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