We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Friday, December 21. 2012
I spent the entire day of Friday 12/14 in a meeting. I kept getting text messages asking what I thought of 'the news', though I had no idea what they were referring to. When I finally came out from the meeting and saw what happened I was deeply saddened and my thoughts and prayers went out to the families and friends of those lost. It's a tragic episode, one which has played out far too often in the past few months here in the US.
I'm pleased with the limited time Maggie's has spent on the topic. By the end of Friday evening, I was done with the news. It isn't news. It's an emotional outpouring which began to grate on me, and even this morning as I left for work, I was annoyed that major outlets continue to spend far too much time on this tragedy. Without any useful information, it's been over-analyzed in the course of the week.
I can't and won't let emotion sway my beliefs. My views on life are backed up with analysis and thought, not an emotional reaction to one or two events.
This is important to me because the meetings I have been in are about leadership. One primary approach to leadership is that style less important than behavior. If your behavior in emotional and stressful situations is different from how you behave normally, it undermines your credibility and ability to process information rationally. This is why the voices we hear on the black boxes of aircraft facing emergencies are usually calm and matter-of-fact. These people were chosen to be in their position for a particular reason...
We saw similar behavior in Sandy Hook, with at least one teacher calmly hiding her children, and directing the gunman to another room when he asked where the children were. The teacher did not survive, but her leadership and calm dedication to the task of defending her students is heroic.
I'd take this concept a step further and say after an event, if your ability to think rationally is altered by an emotional situation, then you are still allowing that event to impact your credibility. This isn't to say change isn't good, and we shouldn't review stressful events to see how to make things better or safer. But if I alter my opinions simply because of the emotional impact of an event, then I am not logically applying my capabilities.
One question which was raised during the media response on that Friday disturbed me. It was a comment I've since heard from a variety of sources. A reporter, a person in the street, all manner of people asking a question which is easy to ask but nowhere near logical. "Don't these events lead you to question your belief in God?"
Well, no. Not in the sense that because people were killed God can't exist. In fact, I'd say the heroic efforts of the emergency workers and the teachers who acted to save lives were enough to prove God does exist in more people than the one committing this atrocity. Even so, it's the wrong question to be asking.
These kinds of events don't happen because God 'lets' them happen, or doesn't protect those killed or injured. God doesn't set out make things happen or prevent them. God offers us choices in life, and our choices lead to particular outcomes and consequences. The shooter, disturbed as he may have been, acted in a fashion which rejected God's teachings, indicating a void in his life. God is 'everywhere', but when we choose to ignore His presence, we create a hole in our lives, and this can lead to very horrible outcomes.
Harry Fosdick had a quote, which I first saw here on Maggie's. "God is not a cosmic bellboy for whom we can press a button and get things." God doesn't protect us with some magic shield that bullets will bounce off of, simply because we ask Him to provide one. God doesn't magically turn someone who rejected Him into an instant believer simply because we wish it to be so. This isn't the nature of God.
He is, however, there for everyone who chooses to be with Him, for those who ask his support and guidance in difficult times. I'm sure there are many in our nation who have turned to Him over the weekend, some questioning "Why?" - a question which will never be answered. Others asking for strength and wisdom to deal with the difficulties they are facing.
We're not always going to be provided with answers. But I do know we can be provided with the strength of belief, the power of calm, which can only come with a firm grasp of the nature of God.
I'll add that while I believe in God, I know many others do not. I also do not practice any particular religion, though I was raised Catholic. I didn't write this to atheists or Buddhists as a means of saying "hey, you can't experience what believers do."
We all have the ability to live good lives with or without a strong belief in God. In many ways, it's the moral code and behaviors which support it which are important.
I'm also not setting out to 'prove' God's existence, that's a choice I have made. But you simply can't understand the nature of God if you believe these events disprove His existence. If you believe this, you're not making a choice about the value of believing in God. You're judging those who have made a choice to believe.
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I am in agreement--I however, believe that evil can get the troubled among us to do evil. There have been too, too many of these "incidences" recently and will be until gun control of first order is passed. I don't like co-incidences--they make me twitch!
Time to think seriously about how evil those cute "mafia guys in chicago" really are infecting our society. Or, how about how Hollywood manages the news for us according to their goals. Sex, drugs, lies, no marriage, gay marriage, gun control, piss on the Christians, etc. etc., etc. No more not for me!
This is where you and I will differ.
Guns did very little here, aside from being utilized in the same fashion a spoon has been utilized by a person who is grossly overweight.
Ban the spoon, the person will still be overweight. It's a mentality, not a tool.
Some say it's the ease of use of the weapon which make these events possible. Even my wife disagrees with me on this - but I say it's the person. If the shooter knows he/she will be met with violent force in response, what happens? Nothing - they do nothing.
Even in this event, when Adam Lanza (who deserves some sympathy as he was clearly disturbed, and as the uncle to 3 children on the spectrum of autism, it's easy to see how his mother was terribly misguided in keeping weapons), heard the police sirens, he killed himself.
These people are not seeking to be met with violent force. In other nations, where gun control is heavily enforced, such as Norway, they still have events like this. Prior to Newtown, this was not the largest school mass killing - the 3 larger ones had occurred in nations with gun control.
Even in the US, this is still minor compared to the Bath incident, which occurred in 1927.
We fail to recognize the scary "boom boom guns hurt people" nonsense and separate it from the "insane people can always find always find a dangerous and deadly tool" aspect of life.
There are no guarantees in life. There is no assuredness of safety and comfort for all time. That is Utopia.
I am writing another piece to follow up on this, why a belief in institutions over our natural rights is more misguided than anything else.....
This author has nailed it in the first three paragraphs, especially the part about the "emotional outpouring." I deliberately avoided watching any television coverage of this event because of the way that medium handles such horrific events. The chatter, the speculations, the coverage of each minute detail actually diminishes empathy. This week the murdered children have become overshadowed by debates on everything from gun laws to mental illness. At a time when we all might best be served by reflection, grief, silence, and prayer, the media circus seems obscene.
It was nice to see the people of the town finally say enough was enough and chased the media out - good for them. There's only so much coverage before it becomes a rehash of rehash of rehash and the media reached that two days into the event.
Leave the people alone and let them grieve.
I am with you, Bulldog. However, the "guns go boom" thing got to us a bit so we had to express ourselves. In our men's prayer group this morning, we prayed for the families who are, in effect, our neighbors, and are scarred for life.
And many, I'm sure, now are anti-gun when they may not have been before. I'm not going to tell them how they MUST decide to think. If they choose emotion over logic, that's their choice.
Unfortunate, but in the situation they have been placed, completely understandable.
I would be diminished to suggest they don't know what they are talking about, or have a right to change their opinion on the topic. I am not at all saying that.
I simply know what I know. I doubt very much if I'd change my mind on the topic if it was my child. That's just how I operate, and I don't think it makes me unemotional. I'd feel terrible and miss my child just as much as the next person. But I'm not sure changing my view on the topic of guns would actually be logical, because a Bushmaster didn't decide to go nuts and start shooting kids, a person did.
I also don't consider the ease with which that person got the gun to be an issue. His mother, by all accounts, was hoping to teach him responsibility (and according to some, he was proud about his manner around guns - so her behavior might have had some benefit if not for this event). We don't know what set him off.
I do know, as the relative of autistic children, that I have a different view on what I'd expose them to. But I'm not their parent.
This is a very emotional situation. But after the emotions, we have to think rationally, not emotionally.
One little fix: ...voices we hear on the black boxes of aircraft facing emergencies are usually calm and matter-of-fact. These people were chosen to be in their position for a particular reason, and then are trained exhaustively and continuously to cope with emergencies... I wonder, how much training teachers get along this line? And, how much should they get?
I'm not a pilot (though I'm signing up for flying lessons soon), so I'm not sure how much training they actually get.
I have taken several courses on leadership, one of which I'm in the midst of. I've often heard courses like this are nonsense, I disagree. Each one takes a different approach, each one has value. Each has helped me improve.
A line I heard in the latest is "true nobility is not being superior to others, but being superior to your former self". I agree with that 100%. I enjoy learning what I didn't know, particularly if it involves not understanding what I though I knew.
So I accept what you write at face value.
But I also know many people are naturals at managing emergencies. They know what their job is and they know how to do it without training. I've seen it.
I'm not sure how I'd have behaved if I heard the guns going off. I hope I'd have done the right thing - I'm fairly certain I would have. But I don't know.
I know that many teachers are natural leaders. They have to be in order to command the love and respect of their classes. The amount of training they need to do this, in the case of natural leaders, is minimal.
'So I accept what you write at face value.' 5500 hrs in Constellations, C-130s, DC-6s and Convairs, if that helps any. Admittedly, it was 40-50 years ago. I don't know if they train as much today, but I suspect they do, albeit in simulators.
'The amount of training they need to do this, in the case of natural leaders, is minimal.' For their regular job maybe, but how about the unexpected? A madman firing a rifle when/where you don't expect it is a surprise, just like an engine fire, runaway prop, bird strike etc. Training for it helps you to to be less surprised when it happens, and to cope with the emergency methodically.
I assumed you were a pilot, which is why I didn't question the premise. I have no idea how much training goes into being a pilot. I only know when disasters occur, there are clear, calm responses to events.
I'm sure there are some incidents where there are not clear, calm responses even with the training they receive. That's human nature. But generally, jobs of that nature engage a sorting out process.
In everyday life we see amazing responses to unexpected terrors on a daily basis.
We also see many people panic.
My point was that "natural leaders", and these do exist, require minimal training because they have an innate ability to adapt and respond in a calm, efficient manner. I suspect many pilots are natural leaders because natural leaders enjoy engaging their dominant side, and what can be more dominant than utilizing and managing the power of flight? It's a relatively rare skill.
If your point is that many teachers are not natural leaders, and therefore need training in the unexpected, I'd agree with that as well.
But if some of the stories from Newtown are true (lord knows what is true, at this point), we do know that many teachers reacted exactly as they should have, and saved many lives. Those stories speak volumes.