Adult behavior fosters youth violence–December 15, 1999

Here’s a commentary about violence in our nation that I wrote for the Asheville Citizen-Times late in 1999 that seems unfortunately appropriate for these times.

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I take issue with your December 7 editorial “Latest school shooting should redouble efforts for solutions” in which you state that what has been missing is a solution to the violence being exhibited by our youth ever more frequently.more_love

I believe we have the solution readily available. And it’s not school uniforms, metal detectors, or armed guards at our schools. It’s not even increased training and vigilance by school and law enforcement officials as proposed in the previously mentioned editorial. It’s not teaching values and principles in our schools. It’s not posting the Ten Commandments on school walls. And it’s not stronger gun control laws, though making guns less accessible certainly couldn’t hurt anything.

What must happen for our children to become less violent and more loving is for us, each of us, to become less violent and more loving. It’s as easy as that.

As long as children see their parents, teachers, preachers, and political leaders practicing and supporting violence—from belittling fellow human beings because of their sex, religion, skin color, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status to bombing innocent civilians in Yugoslavia and Chechnya—they will follow our lead.

As long as they see us mouthing the words of the Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule, but living contrary to those holy precepts, our children will not do what we say; they’ll do what we do.

As long as we permit any child anywhere go hungry, we foster violence in our children.

As long as we refuse to say a resounding “No!” to the excessive brutality and bloodshed on TV, in movies, and in video games, we foster violence in our children.

As long as we spend more time working for material wealth than we spend nurturing our children, we foster violence in them.

As long as we abuse and neglect our children—physically or emotionally—we foster violence in our children.

As long as we continue to elect politicians who put the needs of special interests before the needs of our youth, we foster violence in our children.

We can point our fingers at gun manufacturers. We can point our fingers at teachers. We can point our fingers at Democrats, Republicans, the NRA, religious leaders, atheists, whoever. But the truth is this: While we continue the blame game, the death toll mounts. If you must point your finger at someone, turn it around and point it at yourself. You are responsible for this violence. I am responsible for this violence. And we can stop it any time we truly choose to do so.

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