I want to share with you part of an email my Dad wrote to me this afternoon, talking of course about the shooting on Friday and offering his own ideas about how to fight the evil that causes these things:
“I believe that individuals and societies need what might be called moral and psychological anchors. Anchors are our values and principles, and the institutions — family, church, and so forth
But we now live in an increasingly atomized and superficial world where our institutions are weakened and age-old values rejected. We are surrounded by noise and bombarded by images — yet at the same time we are profoundly isolated.
In this world, the anchors have been discarded as obsolete — an impediment to progress. We’re told they’re not necessary in the New Order. But the problem with a Brave New World without anchors is that an awful lot of boats sink. Or drift into very dark water.”
Actually two things occurred to me after reading his thoughts: 1) Anchors are undeniably important and 2) Dads are undeniable anchors.
Maybe if we’re searching for external factors that contribute to these tragedies, we need look no further than the fact that millions and millions and millions of kids are growing up without fathers to impart this sort of wisdom or to offer guidance of any kind. So many kids are trying to figure things out without the basic necessity of a dad in the house. Yet we pretend it’s not a necessity, it’s more of a frivolous luxury. And so when bad things happen the broken homes and the divorce rate rarely enter into the conversation.
When did we decide to try and be the first ever Society Without Men? When did we determine that family’s don’t need fathers? Who are the fools that planted that seed and who are the cowards that fertilized it? That’s a rhetorical question, I know who they are.
But the person who did this terrible thing apparently grew up, like so many others, in a fractured home. He was another one with a dad who was trying to outsource the fatherhood job. Did this “cause” him to commit that unspeakable act? No. He did that on his own. As I’ve said, he chose evil. Nobody chose it for him.
All the same, I simply don’t understand the people who — in their search for “contributing elements” — somehow overlook the most obvious and most important one: the family, or lack thereof in this case.
Mental illness, laws, the education system, these are all easy things to talk about because we, in the end, have no direct control over them. The onus isn’t on us. It’s on politicians and doctors and teachers. All we have to do is wring our hands and shout “SOMEBODY do something!” Yet we do control what happens in our homes and at our dining room tables. That’s the place where we don’t have to wait for “somebody”.
So I say let’s start there.