Monday, October 27, 2014

…and “innocent children” at “work”

As I implied in my last post, there seems to be a disconnect between perception and reality. The fact is there is no such thing a person being a “child” at 13, or 14 or 15. Most at this age are supposed to be capable of learning complex algebra, geometry, biological and chemistry subjects. I remember when I was at that those ages, I didn’t think of myself as a “child” or among “children.” I was fully capable of thinking on my own (I ran away from home at 14 and had these fantastical ideas about creating my forest empire, before my empire-building was brought to bay by a neighbor who volunteered to look for me). 

Young teens are certainly capable of independent thought and making their own decisions—even if they happen to be the wrong decisions or based on faulty analysis. They are as capable of compassion as they are of cruelty, of wisdom as they are of foolishness, of respect for civilized mores and of total contempt for the rights of others. 

Too often we hear people in the media and advocates of victimhood claiming that these people are merely “innocent children” as if they are incapable of rationalizing their thinking. Yes, young teens can be led astray by a devious adult who seeks to use or abuse them, but usually this involves those who are vulnerable due to unstable homes or unstable emotions (how often do we hear that girls are more “mature” than boys—admittedly an impression due more to expertise in sarcasm and excessive self-regard). 

But too often a false assumption is made that these young teens are completely lacking in self-awareness and self-assertiveness, to be used to advance a political or social agenda. Some of us remember how even the 17-year-old, six-foot Trayvon Martin was repeatedly referred to as an “innocent child.”

Sometimes, as we learned in the high school shooting in Marysville last week, making such false “assumptions” about the capacities of teens of 14,15—or even 13-yeard-old—can lead to a “shocking” lack of insight on the part of “adults.” I was listening to some of the “non-stop” coverage of the event on a local news radio station, and I was almost as disgusted by the breathlessly simulated emoting that filled interminable minutes and hours, passed off as “information” as I was by the shooting itself. But not to worry; by the following day, sheer exhaustion from keeping up the pretension would bring this story to the usual end of all such incidents: Forgotten until the next time it happens.

When the shooter, a freshman in the high school, was identified there was “surprise” and “shock” that this was a seemingly normal “child” just like your child. It was “shocking” that person that age could actually conceive of, plan and execute such a deadly act. He even had a “motive” that an adult might actually have—being on the losing end of a “love triangle.” Can a “child” of 14 or 15 actually be old enough to have “adult-like” emotional responses to heartbreak—especially when the person who took his “love” was a cousin and “close friend”? 

“Children” certainly have “grown up” a lot in the social media age. Looking back when I was in the seventh and eighth grade, girlfriend-boyfriend relationship was still very uncommon, and even harder still to imagine how any could be serious enough to lead to a shooting. I don’t remember hearing about any school shooting incident involving students until recent years, but the Columbine shooting and the media publicity it engendered changed society in ways that no one wants to take responsibility for—especially the “adults” in the media responsible for allowing any variety of murderous mayhem to viewed and disseminated unfiltered by any responsible firewall. 

Suddenly, “children” whose interaction with the world consisted little more than their family and school suddenly found the mayhem and dysfunction of the world right on their “smart” phones and computers. They were told that these “children” had “understandable” personal issues, and sometimes they were even “sympathized” with. For certain their actions gain national publicity. They were no longer “ignored.” They were “somebody.” The people who “hurt” them were themselves hurt—or at least their proxies were.

We don’t live in an “innocent” world anymore. “Children” are “growing up” faster than they should—and many of them without proper guidance in the home. Access to guns has never been easier, and wherewithal to use them doesn’t even seem “rare” anymore. We live in a world where we may not even be safe from “children” even as they are being called “innocent” and “naïve” victims by “adults” in the media. 

We live in a world where reality is no longer what was once understood. The Marysville shooter, Jaylen Fryberg was a popular student, an athlete, voted the upcoming homecoming “prince,” who this past summer promised to “love” a “darling angel” for “the rest of my life.” Are “children” actually capable of such “adult” emotional attachment—anymore than the implied threat of “I hate that I cannot live without you” and “You’re not gonna like what happens next.” What did he mean a few days before the shooting when he wrote “It won't last.... It'll never last....” 

All the “training” by police and faculty could not ascertain a potential threat of a “child” who was "fine the day before. He was being sassy, as always, and good," according to a fellow student—despite the fact that he had just returned to school after being suspended for being involved in s fight with another student. He was still sitting in class shortly before the shooting, according to one student, seemingly lost in thought.

But not to “worry.” The police had been “trained” to deal with a situation like this, where all the deaths and injuries occurred before they showed up in their heavy-duty SWAT gear. This story will soon pass into anecdote—until the next mass shooting occurs. This kind of thing is never supposed to happen, because people always make the wrong assumptions about the world we live in now. No one is truly “innocent.”

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