Friday, October 12, 2007

prevention & blame

So another school shooting. The headline I see is "Lesson of shootings: Schools act too late". I am always amazed to hear bad news accompanied by accusations like that.

After the Virginia Tech shooting, the finger pointing began and it was decided that the university officials should have responded to early signs of a student's mental trouble. How? By sharing concerns with the kid's parents? The school would have been sued for violating his privacy. By jeopardizing his place in school just because he was a demented rascal? That would be stifling his freedom of expression. If we got rid of all the demented rascals, where would they go? Who would get to decide which people fell into that category? How many people display some level of mental distress, and what kind of society could effectively regard them as future mass-killers?

Who gets the blame for a hurricane? The federal government. Until we find out that the local government actually did receive federal funds for a levee project that never happened. So we blame the local government. Then we might blame the people who knew that living in a swamp near a boisterous gulf could lead to problems. We have to blame somebody, because a hurricane doesn't just happen. It was probably global warming, so we should blame the auto-makers.

After the fact, people act like these events were foretold and they blame the lack of prevention. If the prevention had been in place, they would have resented the insinuation that evil thoughts lead to evil deeds. They would have resented the insinuation that they could not stay in their home, and against government orders, they would have stayed. They would have resented the insinuation that Koreans could put themselves and others in danger by travelling to a warring nation full of political strife. Any congratulations to the Korean government for telling them not to go? Of course not. Instead we blame whatever army has been antagonizing those peaceful terrorists.

The accusations really imply that all organizations of every color, shape, and size should have a well-rehearsed plan in place to deal with pandemonium. There is a need for a scapegoat capable enough to foresee everything and protect us from it. But how much of our resources should be dedicated to dealing with astronomically rare disasters? How paranoid can we afford to be? Should we be so paranoid that we want to prohibit school kids from being part of a cult? Apparently not. Should we be so paranoid that we want to take away a nation's ability to wage nuclear war if that nation supports terrorism? Apparently not.

The need for a scapegoat to deal with societal problems that nobody really affords to prevent is universal. This is because we each are secretly devastated as we fearfully fathom our own personal depths of guilt. If we could only agree to pin it on someone... because the only way to really live this life is to know that my sins are gone.

1 comment:

  1. Nate - Still very much appreciating your thought. There's a lot of run-around in this world. Thanks for your last sentence.