, Salem, MA


December 21, 2012

Letter: Response to violence requires honest discussion

To the editor:

If the Newtown shooting “defies understanding,” then you haven’t been paying attention. The motivations may never be fully realized and yet the ways in which help could have been afforded to Lanza or the signs recognized are numerous. However, in a self-reliant “we must be free at all costs” society, it’s up to you to take care of you. That doesn’t work out so well in reality; it didn’t work out for Adam Lanza and it didn’t work out for the community of Newtown. It won’t work out for future episodes of this show.

To be clear, I feel deeply for those directly and indirectly affected by the tragedy. Yet I also feel deeply for Lanza and more importantly, those young men out there right now who suffer the silence of hate, anger, and rage knowing that there are few spaces to speak to such feelings. Events like this and their aftermath of turning the perpetrators into larger-than-life monsters means those who feel or experience the impulse to do what Lanza did are faced with either further hiding what they’re feeling or in an act of desperation and complete hopelessness, following in pursuit of Lanza, Holmes, Harris and Klebold.

We can’t expect to intermix a one-size-fits-all industrialized-based socializing institute (school), a poor cultural discussion around mental health (never mind access), and a rhetoric that’s almost orgasmic about putting a gun in everyone’s hand — especially “real” men — without expecting the results to be repeated mass shootings. We no longer live in an age where we can excommunicate people to the frontier or other continents nor can we store them in human warehouses for the mentally ill (except of course when we do). Like terrorists, rapists and others whom we identify as modern monsters, we may never vanquish them, but we can do much to reduce their numbers. However, that requires complex and honest questions about the ways in which modern societal structures fail us; a conversation that we are never comfortable with because it often identifies the ways in which we as a community bear some of the burden of such tragedies.

Lance Eaton


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