Inspection- “The Evil in Our Midst”

by Ken Carman

   I heard this phrase from a caller to an NPR program after Sandy Hook, and I started to wonder, “What is the nature of, ‘The evil in our midst?'”
   Did Sandy Hook happen because God has been kicked out of our schools? Hardly, if for no other reason than the idea that we could kick God out of anywhere is foolish, at best. And we must remember: that decision happened in the early 60’s. In comparison, obviously, where were all the shootings ten, twenty years after that, compared to now? And what of the Bath School Disaster in… 1927? Do we only count if guns are used?
   Guns did not cause Sandy Hook, of course. Easy access helped, but then again lots of folks have “easy access” and they don’t go shoot up an elementary. We certainly should be discussing how guns, and access to guns, may have contributed… but the idea that it was only guns, or access alone, simply isn’t true.
   I chuckled when a caller to The Stephanie Miller Show said: to paraphrase, “I can’t think of many teachers I’ve had I would have been comfortable if they had had a gun.” Maybe Mr. Bob, but I’ll let that be. Let’s just say he was a highly trained soldier turned teacher with plenty of self discipline and an absolute sense of what’s fair. Otherwise I had too many teachers who had no sense of “fair” to think of them being armed while teaching.
   More guns in our schools, as suggested by my own state, is not the solution. In fact, since I was a kid and especially in college, the number of guns in schools has increased from damn near zero to a hell of a lot more, even if we just count security. Which, by the way, really wasn’t around either, except in the form of a visit to the principal’s office. Not even in my mostly ghetto elementary school. But, despite more guns, in the past 20 years this kind of violence, especially in schools, has increased. Think this more guns a good trend, or a bad one, one thing is for over the top “bloody” sure; despite more guns: problem not solved.
   Damn, now some idiot is going to suggest that if we only “unleash” those who carry guns around little kids “problem solved.” Yeah, like Trayvon-ing five-year-olds is a great idea?
   I am waiting for a lack of “spanking” to be tied to this tragedy too. By the time this is published I’m sure it will receive at least a mention or two. I’m sure it has already been suggested, though violence to prevent violence seems counter-intuitive, at best. I think any advocates would be hard pressed to prove that most mass murderers, or even just most murderers, never received corporal punishment. I would also resist the theory that corporal punishment causes most of these admittedly terrible events.
   These are all “theories” based around the concept that evil comes from without, not within: if we just get rid of, whatever, these things won’t happen anymore, or as much as they do. Included in this type of reasoning is some of the worst speculation humanity has had to offer: Hitler’s campaign against the Jews, the  Communist Party of Kampuchea in Cambodia‘s campaign against political incorrectness and for extreme  self-sufficiency: better known as the Khmer Rouge. As long as we get rid of some group, or those who displease us, things we don’t care for, evil will go away.
   But evil never goes away. In fact it seems to increase the more demanding we become that any perceived evil group, or thing, is eliminated.  That’s because, when it starts, evil rarely, if ever, comes from without: evil comes from within.
   There seems little doubt that Adam Lanza was a troubled young man long before Sandy Hook. A “troubled young man” whom, as far as we know, did nothing anywhere near as bad as this until this moment. I think we would have heard, or been told, by now. Obviously there was a long lead up to this gruesome bout of violence. Things people should have not only been paying attention to, but doing something about.
   The evil inside us, what we let out, helps evil grow in others.
   It’s also evident his mother was troubled: a gun collector who was steeling herself, and her son one assumes, from the chaos the would happen when society breaks down. Not completely realizing just how much her much smaller “society” was breaking down around her. I can only assume she had favorite targets as to who would cause the break down, though I have no idea which groups as I write this. But one thing is certain: Adam did seek out one specific group to blame; almost all of them: children. Or perhaps he was “saving” them from something by, cringe… killing them.
   Just like maybe he thought he was saving his mother from the anguish of knowing what her son was about to do. Maybe he had grown to hate her for whatever reason. I know, from a very personal level, how one can convince oneself to hate someone so close. The question is, do you recognize how delusional you are, or not? Adam, whatever the reason, most likely did not.
   No, Adam being the source of all evil, his mother, corporal punishment, guns, lack of God, forcing God on others: all these answers are just too simple. And some are mere labels to slap on the forehead of corpses so we can stop thinking about all that contributed to last Friday, a mental way to move on, sweep under the rug anything we’re uncomfortable considering. “If only for one person,” or “one group,” or even any one thing, would be, in 60’s lingo, a damn cop-out.
   Seems there’s always that one kid everyone hates in a classroom, or the annoying guy in the office, one group who is to blame for everything bad that happens. This type of reasoning is the path towards more Sandy Hooks, more Columbines, more churches in Knoxville being shot up: not less. And if not, please remember: that person, that group, eventually goes somewhere else, moves away, and I’ve seen this happen over and over again: students and employees eventually just find someone else to blame, or turn on each other.
   The evil inside us, what we let out, helps evil grow in others.
   As annoying as some folks can be, the real evil is within. We hold it inside. Normally it’s a small: very controlled, part of our personality. “Evil” is in all of us. Some of us just have less control. Sometimes we become so focused on what’s evil: usually with others letting their “evil” out helping us, it grows like a virus and goes Ebola on the body of society. We lose control. Mental illness helps, fanaticism helps, yes. But ignoring, enabling or refusing to fund help: all make it worse.
   The evil inside us, what we let out, helps evil grow in others.
   That’s when children die, buildings explode due to planes flying into them, when we wind up shoveling millions of emaciated corpses into mass graves: as if that could make the evil we have grown just go away.
   We all have real, and even imaginary, breaking points. Adam reached his.
   Adam will be viewed as a villain, but is it possible that Adam Lanza would not have done what he did if the mental health clinic in Sandy Hook had not been closed down? If Ronald Reagan hadn’t shut down the asylums and tossed many out on the street by not funding the halfway houses he promised, group homes in a sense, where one might learn to reintegrate, or just stay if not? How many knew of the problems of Adam Lanza and let them slide into this amount of madness?
   Doesn’t all this count as the evil we have let out that fertilizes the crazy, the madness, inside?
   Long after 9/11, after a lot of Muslim bashing, a New York cabby had his throat slashed due to his faith. You’re going to tell me that had nothing to do with what we say, claims we make and way over the top rhetoric?
   If so, you’re part of the problem, not the solution.
    Nothing exists in an absolute vacuum. Like an astronaut, the worst can happen, partially, because support systems fail, but a lot leads up to that failure. The idea that only the perpetrator bears responsibility is in itself a promotion of evil. Otherwise we might as well go back in time and just prosecute the guards who dropped the pills into the gas chambers, or pulled the triggers, opened the trap doors. Hold the leaders blameless.
   One thing is sure: the increase of these events nationwide screams that there’s more to the story than guns, parental supervision, God or any one person or thing. But like the rational, respectful, adult, discussion we need to have about guns and their access, we need to discuss how we treat each other, mental health and who we target. Then one must ask: why do people think any act like this will solve a damn thing?
   We don’t need FOX News blaming liberals, or Current blaming Cons or more partisan pap. Gun owners aren’t to blame for all that happened. Gun control advocates aren’t to blame for all that happened. Survivalists, Athiests, the Right, the Left… no one group or person is to blame for all that happened. Not even Adam, though he is certainly far more to blame than anyone else, as problematic as any mental condition he had became.
   We need to have adult, respectful, rational discussions, about all that happened here…
    …or we best prepare for even more bullets, more bombs and too much damn heartache.

 

 

                     -30-

   Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
©Copyright 2012
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
All Rights Reserved