# 250 – “Cultural Change: Deadly”

By Hetty Gray

# 250

February 15, 2018

“Cultural Change: Deadly”

It’s a given. I am a senior citizen. As such, on many occasions I have seen more of life than I needed to see.

Yesterday is a prime example. I remember Columbine. All of us do. I remember the Hoosier native, a teacher, who gave his life to protect his students. I remember it all.

Since that time, we have witnessed twenty-four more school shootings. How has this happened? It is a question many of us ask.

Well, turn back the clock — culturally. I am a child of the 1940s. Our parents’ generation fought and won World War II. Our grandparents endured World War I. The world they bequeathed to us gave my generation a stable start in life. Their sacrifice and hard work rubbed off on us. They knew the value of human life. They had seen too much of it destroyed. We learned respect for our elders, a strong work ethic, and the value of a good education, whether in the trades or via a college or university.

Our main entertainment was radio, and even today Radio Spirits, and similar companies, broadcast the old shows much to my delight. Movies featured violence, but it was quick and far less vivid than today. True, Edward G. Robinson was a gangster and his movies had guns involved; but there was a difference. The good won out over the bad. Bad was seen as bad.

And then there were the westerns, or “oaters.” Directors like legendary John Ford captivated America with his western movies. We watched Gary Cooper, Gene Autry, John Wayne, Walter Brennan, Tom Mix, Allen “Rocky” Lane, Andy Devine, and Chill Wills. One handsome actor reminded me of our neighbor across the street, local surgeon Norm Richard. That actor? Swashbuckling Glenn Ford.

Good guys wore white hats. They valued liberty and stood for truth. They used their guns to defend the weak and enforce the law. The bad guys, attired in dark colors, earned their names: bad guys.

My memories of those days flash vividly. We watched the “shoot ‘em up” films, but none of us took them too seriously. But, then again, we were not bombarded with violence from every corner. Our games were Monopoly, card games, and checkers. A few of our brighter peers played chess.

Guns were a fact of life for rural kids. Townspeople kept guns at home. In fact, it was not unusual to see guns in the back windows of pickup trucks in high school parking lots. In the 1930s high schools had shooting clubs around the state. Students brought their rifles to school and kept them in their lockers until they went to the shooting range with an instructor.

Yes, our high school experience was far different from today, but a gentler one in many ways. The occasional fight might break out among a few crude teenagers, but those were very rare. Discipline was not questioned. It was reality.

When Principal Jim Sharp walked down the hall of our high school, he parted the students like Moses did the waters. A swish and a clunk in the hallway meant that a cantankerous student was held, feet off the floor, up against a locker. He had rules. He enforced them. None of us got angry and went home for a gun either. And plenty of our houses had guns. I know mine did.

I graduated in 1961 before the hippie era. Our generation saw no drugs. We only read about “opium dens,” and that was in world history. We didn’t see illegal drugs or anyone that might have frequented them. We took drugs (medicines) only when we were sick. To do otherwise was unknown.

Once the specter of drugs, love children, and open sexuality hit the streets, the game was all but over. The transformation of entertainment nailed the coffin of American teenage innocent shut with a bang — no gun pun intended. When our youth became obsessed with games lionizing death and crime, seeds were sown more widely than a thunderstorm dumping Canadian thistle on an Indiana cornfield — easily sown, a constant battle to eradicate.

The evolution of movies from wholesome to insulting only added to the problem. Thugs wreaking havoc and carnage on city streets replaced strong male role models in actors like Robert Young, Ray Milland, Henry Fonda, Jimmy Stewart, and Joseph Cotton. The number of youngsters living in single-family homes began to skyrocket. None of us is better for that.

In the wake of Broward County Florida’s terrible events of Valentine’s Day, some will scream “gun control!” Well, guns don’t kill people. People kill people. A gun left alone in a room is harmless. In the hands of an evil person, a gun is a weapon of unimaginable damage. And so what do we do? Well, why not adopt the Israeli system?

Israel’s schools remain secure. Building security is high, and unidentified teachers carry concealed weapons. Despite the Palestinian rocket attacks on innocents that have gone on for decades, no school is Israel recorded a live shooting incident. True, Israel is a tiny country, and their culture is homogeneous; but their basic plan is solid.

Try to get into a courthouse or federal building in the United States. If you carry legally, your weapon will remain at the entrance under guard. You may be frisked or go through a metal detector. If we keep political and administrative offices safe, shouldn’t we do the same for our schools?

Just how much are our kids’ lives worth anyway? Are they worth a secure building with only limited entry? Are they worth anonymous conceal carry teachers? It’s only common sense, but — then again — that is nearly nonexistent today. Would that it were different….

I do not speak without experience. A 73-year-old grandmother with a lifetime permit to carry, I received my gun training at the FOP firing range by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department when I worked for then Prosecuting Attorney Jim Lisher in the early 1980s. Once in a great while mainstream news will air a story of a person carrying a gun who thwarts a robbery or worse or a mother who defends her home, but — sadly — the news usually concentrates on gun criminals, not citizens defending themselves.

The five million plus members of the NRA stand for personal protection guaranteed by the right to keep and bear arms. The Second Amendment is sacrosanct to them, and to me. It should be to you, too.

The Florida school shooting will bring out slings and arrows from both sides of the gun control issue. However, we do need to remember that the once widespread system of mental health hospitals so common in the United States was dismantled decades ago. Moreover, child rearing became a sporting event for litigious parents who threatened lawsuit if a child was reprimanded.

Once a strong social triangle existed, and it forged an important relationship key to a child’s success. As you know the triangle is the strongest form in geometry. The best example is a pyramid. Think Egypt….

That once strong triangle consisted of the school and the parents for the child. It has morphed, much to society’s loss, to the parent and the child against the school. With the school leg gone, the triangle collapsed — and with it the once strong bond that held the whole relationship together.

However, we cannot ignore the violence to which our children have been exposed. I shudder to calculate the number of murders and violent scenes today’s elementary school children have seen. Now extrapolate those numbers they have seen by the time they reach high school. Constant exposure to violence desensitizes. Empathy and sympathy evaporate. Jaded attitudes reign. Reality falls by the wayside. Everything begins again after the lights go up in the theatre or the commercial ends the episode on TV.

And what of the responsibility legitimately shouldered by video game manufacturers and Hollywood? Oh, celebrities are right up there on their pedestals when it comes to telling us how to live; yet, their medium erodes the very foundation upon which this nation was founded.

Oh, dear. God is the first in line here.

Talk show hosts and anchors mock faith in God as a weakness or as if it is a dread disease. Far from it, faith anchors your life when all else around you collapses. Trace the school violence back to the time when we took God out of the schools.

Exposure breeds mimicry. Undoubtedly, superhero movies will remain popular, but they are pure fantasy. In contrast, gang movies and gratuitous violence offer absolutely no redeeming social value.

Without moral guidance and authority, anarchy looms. When you add the problem of edited textbooks and leftist instructors who paint America as the pariah of the world, the recipe is nothing short of disaster. We teeter on the edge of just such a disaster today.

Prayerfully remember the families of students and staff murdered on February 14th. Each of the murdered went to school yesterday morning expecting to go home. They did not. Each of you has a local school board. Make your concerns known. Insist on security. Every school, large or small, is at risk. Big cities are not alone in their vulnerability. Sad, but true….

Think about Israel. Israelis are determined to keep their freedom and they are prepared to defend it. They safeguard their children and tell them the truth about the world around them. We sugarcoat it here. While it does take away a part of innocence that should be inherent in growing up, informing children about dangers around them is critical.

Every technology has within it an element of danger. The Internet we view as a wonderful tool, the criminal sees as a fast method of communicating evil. For all its good points, it harbors evil within.

Leadership does not end in the home. It extends to the federal level, or one would hope…. I fear that we have become a nation without moral clarity and respect for law. Cities and states that refuse to obey the law are criminal entities and should be treated as such. This bent view of authority must be nipped in the bud, to quote Deputy Barney Fife. Press your elected officials to support federal law. Don’t just sit in the kitchen and complain about it to one another. Voters have impact. Make yours known.

How much are 17 lives worth? Locked doors? Full time security guards? Contrast these costs with school athletic budgets. Today, speaking to a group of Sheriffs from around the country, Attorney General Jeff Sessions made this statement: “The right to remain safe is the number one right of every American and the responsibility of every one of you.” (Audience was made up of law enforcement officials.) He is right.

A lack of safety costs precious lives, lives to be forever unfulfilled, we must face a sobering fact. School safety is the seminal issue of our time. As a parent and grandparent, I want to see something done to assure that children are safe. Do you? All politics is local. Every locality has a school. Starting small is still a start.

Think about it.

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