April 24, 1996

Focusing On The Real Problem

Andrea Palpant Mead
 

Think for a second. Did you blink when you read the headline “Moses Lake student shoots and kills teacher and two peers?”

In an age jammed with juvenile crime, many people aren’t fazed by blood and guts spilled into words on the front page of the paper. We often write it off as “another delinquent kid who doesn’t know right from wrong.”

But have we stopped to ask why America’s youth get an increasing thrill out of pulling the silver trigger? Psychologists like to say juvenile criminals are the product of their environment, victims of some abuse or another. Others say youth crime problems are the result of crumbling families, or moral values that have become as solid as Casper the Friendly Ghost.

That’s all fine for media surveys, but it constitutes blaming society as a whole rather than focusing on what should beat at the heart of the issue: personal responsibility. Have some grit when things get tough. Bite the bullet with your teeth instead of pulling the trigger on others.

By rationalizing criminal behavior and attributing it to poor societal values and unjust environments, we enslave ourselves and future criminals to a victimized societal bondage.

Realistically, we can’t put family values on trial, nor can we take past abuse from people’s lives and zap it away. Granted, those elements play a true role, but when the finger meets the trigger, you have to take a look beyond the broader issues and into the human heart.

And what is it that flounders within the soul but a struggle between good and evil, both ready to spring alive at their master’s command?

We, as individual students, have more control over this soul-struggle and its repercussions than is supposed by society and the adult world. So why not use it for the good?

Think about it. Did you ever imagine that teasing the class nerd could get you a free ride to the morgue? Read past the headlines for once and consider why a Moses Lake honor student killed three people.

One possibility was his frustration with a popular classmate who supposedly teased him for being a nerd. So it might have been the power of a cruel tongue that cost those lives. Or was this student only lacking a friend to listen to his troubles?

This isn’t to take away from his individual responsibility, but to challenge us to give encouraging words that uplift others and, most of all, to be accountable for our own actions.

Why not take personal pride in acting individually and freely for the good - instead of the evil - of those around us?

British author C.S. Lewis wrote in his book “Mere Christianity”: “Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance. The smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which, a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamed of.”

In view of the sad state of juvenile crime in America, take Lewis’ words as a daily challenge and personal responsibility to spur yourself and others on toward a victory of good in the human heart!

xxxx 1. Armed and dangerous 2. Guns only give a false feeling of control and security


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