Blame it on the Pain

By Ravi D'Souza

     You know, I'm not sure who's worse, the two teenagers who went on a killing spree with automatic weapons, or the parents who raised them. Or maybe the pertinent issue here is the fact that two kids who aren't allowed to consume alcoholic beverages are legally able to possess rifles and shotguns in the state of Colorado. The horrific massacre in Littleton, Colorado raises some serious questions of accountability. The "Trenchcoat Mafia," a small group of social misfits, were driven to a point of complete disregard for anyone's life, including their own.

     Someone has to go down for this! America is hungry to blame someone for the deaths of 24 students and the injuries of the 24 who have been hospitalized. James Cameron, the famous Hollywood director, needs to spend some time in a federal penitentiary because he was behind Terminator 2: Judgment Day! The movie industry glorifies gun-toting, violent action-films that depict very little in the way of consequences of such actions. Malleable teens are particularly susceptible to the messages that are communicated in such films. While this may be true, this is simply an avenue by which blame is misdirected to satisfy insecure and insufficient parents. If children are raised in a caring environment where they achieve a strong ethical base, the negative effect of the violent-film genre will be negligible.

     Parents have a responsibility that some cannot fathom. They have the duty to create tomorrow, and that's a pretty big job. The task goes further than telling a child that killing is wrong and following rules is right. In actuality, a consistent environment of acceptance, security, and guidance, is imperative to shape a youth's self-image. Like Will Smith noted in an ode to his son (Just The Two of Us), "Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, 'cause hate in your heart will consume you too."

     Every night, I reflect on the day's events, secure in the knowledge that I fit in. I am comforted when I realize that I am not ostracized from my peers like some are. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked the hallways of Columbine High with a very different perspective. They were alienated from the rest of the school, and were described as "outcasts," by some of the students. With not much to associate themselves with, Eric and Dylan clung to the "Trenchcoat Mafia," where they looked the same and had similar interests. Perhaps this elite crew provided them with some of the security and self- confidence that was never bolstered with proper upbringing. The very fact that they were labeled with the term "Mafia" suggests that society placed them in specific roles. While we all face different types of socialization on a regular basis, most of us possess the ability to resist them. These two teenagers probably had great difficulty coping with their social position, which resulted in a lot of resentment. This angst blew up into a tragic "suicide mission," which leaves most of us wondering, why?

     Shortly after the incident in Colorado, President Clinton made an address to the nation. In addition to deploying a crisis recovery team and canceling a trip to Texas, the President commented on what we are lacking as a society. "...We must do more to reach out to our children and teach them to express their anger and resolve their conflicts with words, not weapons." While I agree with him on this point, such a task should only be an augmentation to lessons already learned by our youth.

     Go ahead and beef up school security. Get cracking on that anti-gun legislation. But the critical element here is the environment in which kids are raised. I think I'll do something extra special for Mother's Day.

Ravi D'Souza is a 19-year old college student at the University of Mayland at College Park (UMCP).

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