Causes and solutions

This article was published March 14, 2018 at 5:00 a.m.

Dear editor:

Watching, listening and reading "fixes" to mass school shootings have instead shown me that, as in medicine, symptom relief rather than cure is the focus. The same is true in the "drug war." The United States has become the world's leader in fighting symptoms while the causes go unchecked. The focus of symptoms is on feelings: stop the feelings and supposedly the problems will depart.

"What drives a person to enter a school and to try to maximize the deaths of students (and teachers)?" This is the wrong question. The right question is, "Why are mass school shootings so rare in other countries with such divergent characteristics, like some being very poor countries, other being very wealthy; some being totalitarian regimes while others are led by consensus; some having terrible troubles with other kinds of violence, while others are truly peaceful?"

Another right question is, "What changed in the United States, where violence occasionally erupted from its beginnings, but where school children weren't the targets?" Another far less general question that will lead to the specific cause is, "Why did the one-room school work?" (Thinking "outside the box" is vital if an answer will be supplied.)

Being of the view that "There is no single answer -- no single cause; the issues are too complex" has been the reason why no single answer has been found. A brilliant inventor never goes with this last premise; instead, the premise, "There is a single solution and I will find it" is what drives invention, and is what previously caused the United States to be a world leader in inventions.

"How many teachers did the one-room school have?" The normal and wrong answer is, "One." Depending on the class size, the students who grasped the subjects of reading, writing and arithmetic not only continued their own studies but also taught the other students who needed their help. Thus, the number of teachers depended on the number of students present and the need for help. This taught so much more than the basic three: reading, writing and arithmetic; this taught responsibility; this taught working together in a group for a common goal; this taught students to care for each other: indeed, to love one another; this taught a kind of selflessness that doesn't grow mass shooters. "Individuality" was merged with "group participation." This trained students to also be excellent employees: to discover good ways to achieve goals while "doing the work" assigned.

When "individuality" is combined with self-centeredness and a repulsion to beneficially participate in a group (for whatever reason), and when death-seeking bitterness enters into the mix, where "rights" are the focus and "responsibilities to others" are not, this grows a few school shooters whose desire is to maximize the "feel my pain" goal.

I haven't yet proposed "the cause" and I haven't yet proposed "the solution." I plan to submit that in the future after just a little more consideration of the factors involved.

I look forward to your responses: causes and solutions.

James Wilson

Hot Springs

Editorial on 03/14/2018

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