"Putting on the Game Face"
|A contest begins, it goes on for awhile and it ends.
During this period lots of stuff happens, some good and some bad.
For example in a professional sport, like football, baseball, hockey, and soccer, teams comprised of individuals with an athletic aptitude go at each other for a period of time. In the course of this conflict individual contests take place and in almost every case one player outdoes his counterpart. These matchups continue throughout the game, one after the other, and form a chain of causation from beginning to end. Individual victories are scored, points are recorded and when the offensive and defensive struggle runs out of time the numerical records are compared and the winner and looser is declared.... If this seems so obvious that it appears an insult to your intelligence, indulge me... there is a point to be made.
It is an inclination of human nature to attribute the outcome of one of these athletic contests to the last play in the game. Never mind all the errors that were made in the earlier periods or innings but rather to focus on the last gasp of the contest. This is where the goalie gets involved in a shoot-out, where the bases are loaded and the MVP steps up to the plate or the Kicker is looking to make a fifty yard field goal. Success or failure becomes a measure of what happens on the last link of the chain. Never mind all the bone head plays, poor coaching devisions, or conversely great moves or brilliant foresight throughout the contest but rather fixating on the culminating act where the final outcome gets decided one way or the other.
Athletic contests are social models that demonstrate in a gentler context, complex elements that play out in life. In athletics we enjoy the game, nobody gets killed and we experience a catharsis well below the gut wrenching agony of what would happen were something many times worse to take place... like a school shooting. When such a social event takes place the knee jerk reaction is to seize on the last link in the chain of events leading up to it. We blame the final batter, the goalie or the field goal kicker. In this instance we blame the gun that sent bullets into the helpless mass of innocent bystanders, the slow response of law enforcement, or the stupidity of protocols that demanded the wrong action at the wrong time...
The point is that there are many links that have to fail before the assault rifle goes Rat-Tat-Tat and it behooves us to start thinking about what they are before another psycho or worse a team of terrorists bursts onto the scene of a soft target. This is not to say that a gun component cannot be part of trying to prevent school shootings but rather to say it is only one is a long chain of failures proceeding it.
Some of the earlier links are banning prayer in school, erosion of family influence by making parents fear the exercise of physical discipline in the home, violence in video games, Socialist influences in modern education, undisciplined classrooms, red flags that go unreported at all levels of government, bullying in school, social ostracism, programs in schools that underreport misbehavior to avoid administrative stigmatization with unintended consequences, legislation that permits restraining orders to take away weapons from the mentally unfit, hardening schools, arming a core of teachers to protect students in a worst case scenario, taking a look at fire prevention procedures and devices, immediate action drills for law enforcement, bloviating sheriffs .... the links go on and on, any one of which might have prevented or mitigated tragic incidents from the past.
It's time to quit blaming the field goal kicker and get serious about fixing all the links in the chain. The next time it won't be a wacko piece of social wreckage... its going to be an orchestrated terrorist attack... If you don't think they're watching, taking note and plotting you're badly mistaken. As bad as these shootings are they serve as a wake up call for some even worse tidings sure to come our way.