We Must Change

“We cannot tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end, and to end them, we must change.” —President Obama

I fretted over the past few days as to whether to post and what to post in response to the recent shooting rampage. Normally, I would simply let others say better and more, as they always do. It wasn’t until President Obama shared his thoughts with us this evening that I knew what I’d have to say.

America must change, that much is for certain. This is the twenty-first century. Things that have worked well in the past don’t work in the present, and things that don’t work in the present won’t work in the future.

However, the President announced that he will call on everything from “law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators” to ensure the safety of children.

I hope this does not mean just another reactionary gun law. I doubt such a law would even have made a difference in this most recent tragedy, as the guns used were allegedly collected by the shooter’s mother. People collect guns to make themselves feel safe. The idea that their symbol of security might be taken away will just make them feel more scared. America needs less fear, not more. Unfortunately, fear is what gets people to tune into the news.

I hope this does not mean just more prescriptions for children. Were I a schoolchild today, I’d certainly have been diagnosed with ADHD and have been prescribed something or other to make me less distracting, less weird, and more obedient. Unfortunately, the effects of prescribing such drugs to developing children are not completely understood, much less provable beyond doubt. Such drugs have been banned in other countries, but are encouraged here, because business is what’s most important to America. Children do not need more drugs, but better care. So that those that do not fit the mold are not cracked by it.

I hope that this does not mean just another effort to make the educational system further resemble the prison-industrial complex. The resemblance was apparent enough to me during my own school days, oh-so-many years ago, and has since grown with metal detectors, surveillance systems, checkpoints, mantraps, armed guards, concertina wire and zero-tolerance policies. Violence is one symptom that the system is broken and needs more than a quick-fix. Bullying, teen suicides, and, yes, even the alleged legions of illiterate graduates are others. The school system is a relic of a bygone age, designed more to turn out crops of factory workers than well-adjusted citizens. It must be reengineered.

Will America see the change that it truly needs? Or will we just hear an assortment of pretty words and ugly words before returning to business as usual?

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