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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Opinion

Tuesday, April 27, 1999

Smokey Briggs

Sage
Views

By Smokey Briggs

Change may not

have been good

Last week's events at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado seem to have left us a nation searching for answers.

The anti-gun crowd is screaming that guns are the cause of this evil.

The psychologists are poking through books on Freud and Jung speculating on what could cause such behavior.

Some find easy blame to lay at the foot of Hollywood.

Some would include the rest of the media for reporting the details of the mayhem that man perpetrates on his fellow man.

Others wish to blame the parents of the shooters for poor parenting.

I'm not all that sure there is an answer. I am pretty sure that there are no easy answers that will fit into a sound bite.

Moreover, I really don't think that if a genie were to lay the answer at our feet, that we would like it, or even accept it.

What all of the speculators, experts and special interest groups have in common, it seems, is a preoccupation with a symptom, or a final behavior but not a root cause.

Movies, guns, gruesome news coverage, bad parents and child hood problems have been around for a long, long time.

But the recent rash of high school shootings is something new.

Something changed. Given the geographical spread of these events, something changed all across our nation, and across our culture.

The anti-gun crowd is simply capitalizing on a tragic event, like vultures winging swiftly to a fresh carcass.

Poisons, gases, explosives all are relatively easy to manufacture in a technological world. Guns are not necessary for mass destruction and certainly don't plant the seeds of murder in peoples' minds.

Criminals wishing to commit the ultimate crime will hardly be deterred by the lesser punishment they might face if caught with an illegal weapon. And, for the right price, illegal items will always be available. Witness illegal drugs.

Perhaps there is some merit to the charge against the violence so prevalent in movies and television.

Although hard to quantify, advertising seems to work. Pepsi and Coca-Cola sure seem to think so.

Maybe the violence we witness on video acts as sort of an advertisement for creation of the same in real life.

If there is a connection, it probably has more to do with the morale theme, or lack of one, rather than the violence itself.

When John Wayne shot somebody the guy needed shooting. The themes in many of today's videos are not so clear.

The news media? Again, I'm not sure. But overwhelming, sensational coverage of violent crimes has been with us for hundreds of years and failed to create this effect before.

Bad parents? Troublesome child hood experiences? Ostracism from your peer group? Certainly these have long been afflictions of man.

If anything, some of these might be variables in the overall equation symptoms to some degree or contributing causes.

But the root cause, I think, lies deeper. It lies within our society, and ourselves.

Logically, unless it can be linked to something in the national water supply, it stands to reason that the cause lies in something we did in the last few decades.

Somehow, we changed something in our culture, and the result is horrible.

The question is what?

There are many things that have changed over the past couple of decades:

The nuclear family appears to be dead. Divorced parents seem to be the norm today, rather than the anomaly. Divorce has become the cure-all for hard times in a marriage and children are paying the price.

The extended family, for most of the nation, no longer exists the price we pay for living in a technological world that turns us into gypsies living in air conditioned, but temporary, huts far from the rest of our family.

Even if a child's parents do manage to stay together, we have created a society where both parents probably work either from necessity, greed or social pressure. The noble act of self-sacrifice performed by moms who stay at home and raise their children is practically vilified in today's culture.

And yet, in many ways, life continues to get easier and easier. Most kids don't seem to need to work anymore, or they won't. Nintendo seems to have replaced afternoon jobs, homework and chores. Nobody ever said that a life of ease builds character.

Discipline seems to have fallen by the wayside as well. Somewhere in between Dr. Spock and today the spanking of children has been labeled child abuse.

Teachers can no longer employ the universal language of pain to impress upon students that they have done something wrong.

Unfortunately, throughout the world, there are people that understand no other language.

And finally, there is tolerance. Too much of it.

In our drive to create a kind, gentle world where everyone is treated fairly, I think we took a few steps down a path that looked good, but leads to an abyss.

As a society, for the past couple of decades we have been preaching tolerance to the point that tolerance has become the goal, rather than a path to a goal.

But tolerance, in-and-of-itself, is not good. Tolerance of evil is just plain evil.

Tolerating anti-social behavior doesn't make it go away. Instead, it allows such behavior to grow and become more extreme.

In our desire to be tolerant of different people, cultures and beliefs, we may have gone a step to far we may have lost the guts to call evil by its name to teach the difference between right and wrong.

We may have forgotten that not everything in this world that is different from our own beliefs is good, or even indifferent.

Right and wrong still exist. But try to point to it today and you are likely to be besieged by some group or another as culturally biased, a religious radical, a bigot, a chauvinist, a redneck, or any other term that can be coined to cast a poor light on the speaker.

Here, I think, the news media may be at fault, either through conscious effort, or blind support, of anyone who holds up the torch of tolerance and proclaims this high ground for themselves.

The culture of America's past wasn't perfect. It wasn't Utopia. It wasn't fair. But, it didn't create high school kids intent on killing their classmates either.

Comments needed on area bomber training initiative

We urge everyone in West Texas to comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the Realistic Bomber Training Initiative. Copies of it can be found in the local library or you can request your own copy from Dyess AFB (915) 696-2863.

While this document is beautifully presented with it's charts, pictures and maps the representations of the environmental impacts in it are flawed. Of the 28 or so environmental documents the Trans-Pecos Protection Group has analyzed, this one is the farthest from reality. It is totally without merit as it apples to the National Environmental Policy Act. If this wasn't such a serious matter this EIS would be laughable.

There are realistic, real live people out here that this draft arrogantly deals with as insignificant. The repeated use of words like "might" and "may" and "negligible" and "inconsequential" when describing the impacts felt by these Low Level Realistic Combat Training Flights are insults to our intelligence. Anyone who has ever been under had a near-miss with or had property damaged by these war machines can attest to a very definite negative impact.

Comments can be sent to: Major Brent Adams, RBTI EIS Project Manger, HQ ACC/CEVPP, 129 Andrews Street, Suite 102, Langley AFB, VA, 23665-2769.

For more information, contact the Trans-Pecos Protection Group at (915) 364-2323.

KAY KELLEY
P.O. Box 605
Alpine, Texas 79831

Reader thanks staff at local hospital

I want to say a loud and resounding thank you to the Reeves County Hospital Emergency room staff and the Dr. (forgive me for not remembering his name) who were on duty the night of the 13th when my husband, J.R. Wooten was taken in so near to death.

A special thank you to Mr. Bill Wendt for staying on after his shift was over at 11:00 p.m. but was still right there when the ambulance left for Odessa at 5:30 a.m.

To the E.M.S. crew for the courageous act of transporting J.R. and Mrs. Lovelace in Unison to Odessa.

To our loving church and community family of Toyah.

Reeves County this is one time you can be very proud of your over-all health-care giving units. But to God be the over all praise and glory.

JUDY WOOTEN
of Toyah

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