I received an e-mail from a friend this morning entitiled "Mary Had a Little Lamb". It was the old nursury rhyme but the Lamb was Jesus and it went on to say the Lamb had been banned from schools and now we experience shootings and other violence in those schools. I decided to share something I wrote in April of 2007, immediately following the Virginia Tech shootings. It's a little long but I hope you'll bear with me.
I have been watching the news of the latest school shootings, this time at a university in Virginia. For whatever reason, I felt compelled to put down my thoughts in writing. What is it about America that has turned our young people into murderers? Will it ever end? If so, how?
In August of 1966, Charlie Whitman, a product of an abusive home, a former Marine and a student at the University of Texas in Austin, opened fire on the city of Austin from atop the university tower. An expert marksman, he killed 14 people and injured dozens of others before finally being killed by police. While Whitman's story is somewhat different than the shootings happening in our schools today, he was the first. He started this insanity.
Since the tragedy at Columbine High School in 1999, there have been so many incidents that people aren't shocked anymore. Saddened yes, but shocked - no. It happens everywhere from major cities to small town Arkansas and North Carolina. It happens in all levels of society and the perpetrators are from various families, with money and without.
Monday's tragic carnage at Virginia Tech is just another example of society gone wrong. It's time to stop looking at these killers as disturbed individuals and begin looking at them as a group. We need to find out what is turning these kids into monsters and we need to find out quickly.
People can say what they want about what I write here but this is my take on the whole thing:
In 1946, Dr. Benjamin Spock published his first book on raising children. A highly intelligent man who meant no harm, Spock and his book were the beginning of the downfall of the young people in this country. Spock told parents to be more relaxed and flexible and to be more of a friend to their children, treating them as individuals. He said spanking them was harmful.
Until this information became popular, discipline in the home was one of the top priorities. Of course there were parents who went overboard, as there are today. But children were raised to respect the law, their elders, their country and each other. In the 1950s, children (teenagers included) were polite and respectful for the most part. They got in trouble but didn't blame society or their parents. They had a good work ethic and got part-time jobs so they could have spending money instead of having it given to them. When they were old enough, if they wanted a car, they worked to save the money to buy what they could afford instead of having Mommy and Daddy buy them a new one. They did what their parents told them to do and would never even imagine the idea that they could sue their parents if they weren't happy about something.
They went to church with their families, ate meals with their families and prayed; not only in church but at home and even in school. They said the Pledge of Allegiance every morning in school and proudly stated “one nation, under God.” There was no shame and no one complained about their rights being violated.
Dr. Spock’s well intended books encouraged parents to stop teaching their children the three R’s: respect, responsibility and reason. Instead he promulgated the idea of children doing what they wanted, when they wanted, without worrying about the consequences. I know he didn’t mean to do this. But this was the result. When parents stopped punishing their children for doing something wrong, those children stopped learning the consequences of their actions.
To get a glimpse of the major changes that began in the Spock generation, look at the difference between the young people of the 1950s and the young people in the 1960s. The 60s generation was the beginning of the result of Spock’s influence on American parents. Young people changed their appearance dramatically because they didn’t want to conform to society’s rules. And their Spock-trained parents hugged them and encouraged them to be individuals. They began to experiment openly with chemical substances. (Not that substance abuse hadn’t been going on already but it was never in public until the 60s.) They began to leave home and family and flock together to places where they could do what they wanted and not worry about consequences. They did what they wanted without conscience because as children they were hugged and encouraged when they did something wrong instead of disciplined and taught consequences.
Somewhere in the middle of this Spock influence another group of Americans began telling us what we were doing wrong. They began telling the U.S. courts their rights were being violated by the vast majority of Americans and that things needed to change. Somewhere, somehow, amidst all of the other negative changes in this country, atheists began wielding power in the courts and convinced the Supreme Court that they (Atheists) were being abused.
In 1963, Madeline Murray (she didn’t become O’Hare until after this court case) won a decisive court battle that eventually ended prayer in public schools. While it took a while for prayer in school to totally disappear, it was this woman and this case that eventually stopped children from being allowed to pray in school. And it was just another pathway to a tragic future for our children.
Throughout the next forty years atheists continued working to stop the majority of people in this country from practicing and living their religious beliefs in public because it “violated their rights as non-believers.” In 2002, an atheist in California convinced the Supreme Court that subjecting his son to the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance was harmful and violated his rights. The Supreme Court, in all their wisdom, decided because the words “under God” made this man feel uncomfortable the practice of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance by school children must cease.
It’s called “living constitution” philosophy, which allows that judges decide what the Constitution meant rather than following the Constitution as written. Two of three Supreme Court Justices decided this man’s discomfort was more important than the beliefs of the overwhelming majority of Americans. And these same judges “swear or affirm” that they will uphold the law and judge cases to the best of their abilities “so help me God.” I don’t know how they could be qualified to make a decision involving God or religion after taking that particular oath. ??
For the next four decades the circle of life continued. The children of the 60’s generation grew up with less discipline and less values than their parents. They, in turn, taught their children even less responsibility and respect until, in the 90’s, children grew up thinking their parents and society in general owed them something. Many parents agreed and gave their children everything. They meant well. They only wanted their children to have the best in life. Sadly however, their children don’t know the value of a dollar, how it feels to work hard to get something you want, or what it means to wait for something until you can get it yourself.
My siblings and I were born in the late 40’s and throughout the 50’s. We were raised by parents who not only didn’t agree with Dr. Spock’s ideas but who had an idea what the results would be. We were spanked – sometimes even with a belt or a switch – and had our mouths washed out with soap for using bad language or talking back. We spent time in our rooms for bad behavior and were grounded for a week or two at a time. We were made to apologize to people if we did them wrong and made to take responsibility for our actions. We suffered whatever consequences arose from those actions. Through all the punishments we received over the years none of us felt we were abused or would ever have thought of calling the police or taking our parents to court.
We went to church on Sundays, sometimes twice. We prayed before eating dinner together as a family, at night before going to sleep, in school and in restaurants before a meal, and anytime we felt we needed to talk to God. We were taught to respect other people and their beliefs, even if their beliefs were different than ours. We would never have asked that others be prevented from practicing their beliefs just because we didn’t believe the same thing. We were taught to love and respect our country and flag and that it’s sometimes necessary to defend them.
We grew up in this manner, completely opposite of the way Dr. Spock said we should be raised. Yet we grew up to be honest, hard working, God fearing people who still respect other people, our country, individual rights and your freedom to believe as you wish. We have all successfully raised children in the same manner. Each of those children has respect for their parents, for other people, for God and their country.
We never killed anyone in school when we were growing up and neither did our kids. We were disciplined and taught to love and respect others no matter how different they were. We risked going to jail or being sued by our kids and spanked them, grounded them and sent them to their rooms when they did something wrong. They had to apologize and make things right when they wronged someone. And I’m pretty sure most of our kids even tasted soap at one time or another when they were little. I know mine did. They were taught about God, His love, prayer and faith. They went to school in the 90’s and 2000’s. They never brought a gun to school and never killed a classmate or a teacher. And fortunately for them (thank God), none of them ever had to face a gun at school either.
So how do we correct this growing problem of school violence and kids who kill? Activist Michael Moore thinks gun control is the answer. Those who believe gun control will stop people from having guns and shooting people are sadly mistaken. I, for one, believe the answer lies with every parent and with God. Teaching our kids discipline, respect for others, principles and family values, teaching our kids that hard work and perseverance to achieve something are more rewarding than having everything given to them, and bringing God back into our homes and schools are the first steps toward healing our nation. You can bet God was in Virginia Tech on that Monday and that many of those students and faculty were talking to Him. He was in Columbine and in Arkansas and in North Carolina.
I say let God back in and let Him, along with their families, straighten out these disturbed kids. I could be wrong. But what we’re doing now certainly isn’t working.