Before the shooting starts.
So far, we don't have the horror in Australia that has shown up again in America: school shootings. It might only be a matter of time. I pray we never see it again, in the U.S. or Finland or Scotland or wherever else has seen this sort of evil. But IF anyone asked me how to stop it, I'd have one idea apart from the same-old same-olds about gun control, armed guards in schools, etc. Not that I'm criticizing attempts to stop it, it's just that there is one I've not heard anyone suggest so far.
Everybody, be careful how you treat everybody else. You know, the Golden Rule? Treat people the way you prefer to be treated yourself?
Perhaps I'm being too obvious. Or is the obvious being forgotten?
The two boys who cut loose at Columbine were, I've read, social isolates who were bullied and rejected by others. The young man who perpetrated the horror at Sandy Hook Elementary was beset by mental or psychological disorders. By some accounts his family, being survivalists, had a suspicious view of the world around them. Our press have not yet gone into detail about the two shooters who attacked this week. The young man who shot up a college campus in Virginia was described as an outsider. If I'm misinformed, by all means tell me how. But consider if you will what I'm saying here. Would people lash out and perpetrate the abomination of mass killing if they felt that the society they were part of cared about them, that they were among friends?
I could be over simplifying. Sometimes a person becomes isolated because they have driven others away, not because others rejected them. But I'll stick by one point here. Having spent thirteen years in schools as a student, four years on a university campus as a student and twenty five years in schools as a teacher, I'm sure I know this: some individuals get everybody else's stuff dumped on them because too many people want someone to look down on, and they pick on whoever they think will put up with it. That is to say, they are pettily spiteful, insecure and small minded, and cowardly in the way they look for someone who will 'take it', while crawling to anyone who they are scared of or want to be seen with. It's a sad world sometimes. So I'm still wondering, would people lash out and do the shocking things they do if they thought they were hurting someone they had reason to care about?
Boys need to avoid showing contempt for girls, and girls need to avoid showing contempt for boys equally. Young respect the old, older ones respect the young.
I once replied to an email which came from a stranger, to see what they wanted. It seemed they did not know that the email had even been sent to me, and instead of saying that politely because it was really not my fault, they came back with "I don't even know you, you creep." Silly girl. That was uncalled for. In my case it did not spark retaliation because I'm not a nut job about to explode, but it is the sort of dopey uncalled for rudeness that sometimes proves to be the last straw.
This had been said before: societies which are crowded, where people live physically close to each other, are the ones with the most developed codes of etiquette for treating others. Politeness is a social lubricant which can avoid offense. Simple courtesy or kindness can defuse anger in others, or at least not trigger a reaction that ends in blood.
Of course it's not all that simple. The things going on inside someone's head can be complex and make them impossible to predict. But I wonder: if more people took the trouble to be civil, instead of 'no-one messes with me' abrupt, would we see fewer outbreaks of rage?