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Save the Children

December 15, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Family, Randall Amster

Sadness and Hope from the Connecticut Tragedy

by Randall Amster

My eyes filled with tears as I heard the news of the mass shooting in Connecticut, where most of those killed were elementary school children. As a parent with children of similar ages, I can only nullimagine the grief of those who suddenly lost the most precious thing in their lives. And as a person concerned about the well-being of all peoples and the tenuous future of our species, I keep hearing myself think: What will it take to end the madness?

I am loath to use yet another tragedy to point out (again) the inherent violence and brutality of our society, from the exploitation of individuals to the decimation of nations. I am not eager to connect it back (again) to the human-initiated violence toward the balance of life on the planet, that vast interconnected web on which our very existence depends. I take no solace in preparing to rant (again) about the culpability of the media, the profligacy of corporate profiteers who put their wealth above everyone else’s health, or about the profound alienation and emptiness of modern life.

No, this is beyond all of that. This is about our children.  ALL of our children, everywhere. If we do not appreciate the basic fact that we are all responsible for all of the world’s children, then there is precious little hope for any viable human future on this world. We simply cannot continue to steal the future from our children, to wantonly consume the habitat and undermine its inherent resiliency, to seed the world with weapons of mass insanity and the implements of violence that are all too readily available for acts of grave cowardice such as the one we have seen in recent days — and every day.

On a daily basis, the news queue is like a litany of horror stories, while those nominally charged with promoting our security do little more than posture before cameras and open new fronts in a war without end. The “mass shooting” has become a dominant motif in the production of social relations, the last refuge of the disaffected and unloved, the final epitaph for a culture that has paid far too little attention to its children and the responsibility to ensure for them a positive future.

As a parent, my heart breaks; as a human being, my soul aches. What will it take? In a just world, this episode alone would be enough to jolt us out of our torpor and get us to put down all of the weapons of war in our midst. We would reexamine the deep-seated societal roots of despair and violence, and take an honest accounting of the ways in which we are all culpable in its perpetuation. We would rededicate ourselves to establishing a societal foundation based on empathy and compassion, and build our economies and politics around these values. And above all, we would use every peaceful means at our disposal to ensure that our children can play and grow in this world.

My fervent hope is that out of tragedy comes revelation. What will it take? Nothing less than the unwavering commitment of all people of good conscience to step back from the abyss of hopelessness, and to reclaim the virtues of being caretakers rather than consumers of ourselves, one another, and the world around us. For the sake of all that makes life worth living, let us from today forward build a society whose highest ideal is to save our children and preserve our future.

Randall Amster, J.D., Ph.D., is the Graduate Chair of Humanities at Prescott College. He serves as Executive Director of the Peace and Justice Studies Association, and is the publisher and editor of New Clear Vision. Among his recent books are Anarchism Today (Praeger, 2012) and Lost in Space: The Criminalization, Globalization, and Urban Ecology of Homelessness (LFB Scholarly, 2008).

2 Comments to “Save the Children”


  1. In the last 30 years, from 1982 through 2012, there have been 62 mass shootings (4 or more deaths) in the United States, with a total of 488 deaths, 503 injuries, and 991 victims. The average number of such killings has been 2.2 per year, with 17 deaths and 18 injuries. But in 1999 (the year before the millennium change) there were five mass killings with 44 deaths and 47 injuries.

    In 2012 to date (the year of the end of the Mayan Calendar), there have been a record seven mass killings – Oikos (CA) University, Seattle cafe, Aurora (CO) theater, Sikh temple (WI), Accent Signage Systems (MN), and the Sandy Hook (CT) Elementary School – for a total of 72 deaths, 68 wounded, and 140 victims.

    Since 2008, the average number of annual mass killing deaths and injuries has doubled, and it doubled again in 2012. This may be a combination of the effects of the economic depression coupled with the much-vaunted endtimes. Not only are Mayan calendar buffs speaking of the end of history, but mainstream scientists are now as well.

    “I think that the odds are no better than 50-50 that our present civilization on Earth will survive to the end of the present century without a serious setback.” – Sir Martin Rees, Our Final Century (2003), British cosmologist and astrophysicist, Astronomer Royal, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and past President of the Royal Society of London (the world’s oldest scientific association, founded in 1660)

    Climatic Change Journal (February 2011): Only economic collapse will prevent runaway global climate change.

    Arctic Methane Emergency Group (February 2012): “Methane release will accelerate exponentially, release huge quantities of methane into the atmosphere and lead to the demise of all life on earth before the middle of this century.”

    We may have to brace ourselves for more of this as civilization continues to break down and people lose hope in the near-term future.

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  2. Randall Amster’s summation is right on. Unlike most commentary, especially in the mainstream media, he goes into all factors feeding into senseless violence, including humanity’s deprivation of healthy nature. He is an authority on how the war machine exacts a price at home as well as abroad. I would add that, to keep the public off balance and full of fear, events like Sandy Hook serve to distract us from demanding a healthy world, and dealing with severe injustices and scams at high levels.

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