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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  Larry Simoneaux
Bio: Larry Simoneaux
Date:  January 7, 2007
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Topic category:  Other/General

Something's changed.

This time it was Tacoma. Kid brings a gun to school and kills another kid.

As of this writing, no one’s put forth a "reason" for this killing, but one will eventually come. And it’ll make no sense whatever.

"I’m depressed (upset, confused, bored, angry, irritated…whatever), so you have to die."

Maybe I missed it while growing up, but I don’t remember this as the way it’s always been.

I do, however, remember a time when problems at school might’ve led to some shouting and, maybe even a shoving match. If things went much beyond that, the adults (remember them?) stepped in and a stomach-churning trip to the principal’s office followed quickly.

In that office, before second-guessing discipline became a national obsession, we had the riot act read to us by a very unsympathetic individual who rightly believed that his or her words were law.

Worse, if what we’d done was bad enough, a call home ensured there’d be a second, and even more unpleasant, reading of that same act.

What this did was teach us was that we were still snot-nosed kids with boundaries to our behavior and woe-betide us if we ventured beyond those boundaries.

We still had bullies and cliques. Feelings still got hurt and there were always those who seemed to be on the outside looking in. But the thought of bringing guns to school to settle a score never even entered our minds.

But that was a simpler time. That was when drugs were what you took when you were sick and the worst thing someone might do was sneak a cigarette behind the gym. Today, there’s too much junk that’s too easy to get and the ones (parents) who should be coming down the hardest on the kids doing drugs are often hooked themselves.

Back then we had heroes who did things that made you want to reach for the stars. Today, we have stars who are stars simply because they happen to have a pulse, consume oxygen, and are in the news.

Does anyone think that all of the sex we’re pushing on kids – earlier and earlier – doesn’t have an effect on them? Does anyone think that the current notion of sex without responsibility or commitment doesn’t hurt them?

Still, it’s preached to them daily.

Do it. Do it now. Any time. Any place. Any age. With anyone.

Yes, they’re physically ready, but does anyone outside of Hollywood actually believe that teenagers are mentally and emotionally ready for this?

Maybe the idea that there are no longer any absolutes - that morals, ethics, and principles are out of date - hasn’t helped. Maybe some of the problem is due to the fact that we’re so busy working to give our kids everything, we’ve forgotten to set aside enough time to give them ourselves.

What about a daily diet of television that treats our worst behavior as freak show entertainment? Your alcoholic, incestuous, thrice-divorced, deadbeat dad’s sleeping with a drug-addled, pimped out, just released from jail, bulimic fiancé? Come on down and let’s talk about it.

How about the hours spent playing electronic games that glorify violence or the hours spent listening to "songs" about killing cops and degrading women? Think they have no effect?

Right. That’s why ad agencies spend money by the bucket load to get their products in front of those same kids for a mere 30 seconds.

Let’s not forget the ever growing segment of society that refuses to admit that the individual most responsible for any action and its consequences can usually be found in a mirror. Many kids sure seem to have picked up on that one and have taken it to heart.

This is an opinion column and, in my opinion, if we allow too many wrong things to happen, if we give baseness too free a hand, if we forget that good needs to be taught on a daily basis, then we’re going to lose a lot of kids. Unfortunately, looking at what’s happening all too often these days, I’d say we’re already well on our way.

And, no, I haven’t forgotten about the guns.

Funny thing, though. They were much more accessible when I was growing up. You could buy a .22 at the local Western Auto and no one gave it a second thought. Neither was some kid (including yours truly) buying a box of ammunition considered out of the ordinary.

The guns were there when I was growing up, but not the shootings.

Something’s changed.

And it damned sure hasn’t been for the better.

Larry Simoneaux

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Biography - Larry Simoneaux

Larry Simoneaux is a regular columnist for The Everett Herald in Washington state. He is a retired ship driver for the US Navy and NOAA.

Read other commentaries by Larry Simoneaux.

Copyright © 2007 by Larry Simoneaux
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