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Mourning with Connecticut…and Milverton

Minto Express editorial

After all the incredulity, anger, and disbelief initially felt once the news hit about the tragedy in Connecticut faded, you might’ve experienced a guilty sense of thankfulness. Thankful that we live in a culture where sub-machine guns cannot be purchased with ease at a Wal-Mart, or where mental health supports are somewhat easily accessible, at least comparatively when you see what our American neighbours have access to.

You may have felt a sense of relief knowing that, no matter how divided we may be regarding issues and the ways around them, we recognize that debate is healthy, that words are powerful, and that problems can be solved peacefully; compromise sought, and agreements reached without violence.

You may have felt this way for a time, maybe even with a touch of self-righteousness…then, you might’ve stumbled upon an article online from last week bearing the beautiful, smiling face of 17-year old Nicole Wagler, who was gunned down in Milverton on Dec. 4.

Likely, those aforementioned assurances promptly flew out the window. Finding yourself in Connecticut with nothing so flimsy as a smug sense of nationalism to protect yourself, you wondered “Now what do we do?”

Of all that’s been written since the shootings in Connecticut, through American gun law debate and false quotations attributed to actor Morgan Freeman, one of the most poignant pieces out there is an article appearing in The Huffington Post entitled “I am Adam Lanza’s Mother” by Liza Long. Long, from Boise, Idaho, has a son suffering from mental illness and extreme issues with anger and violence. Her article deals with the daunting lack of help she has in dealing with her son’s unpredictable and violent rage, as well as some striking facts about North American mass murders.

“According to Mother Jones,” she writes, “Since 1982, 61 mass murders involving firearms have occurred throughout the country. Of these, 43 of the killers were white males, and only one was a woman.”

That hit home. I may not be able to fully empathize with the mothers of children with mental illnesses, or, for that matter, parents in general…but I am one of those white males.

In high school, I can remember participating in something called The Walk to End Male Violence. I signed up to get out of class, and I prickled when they put the onus of much of the violence in the world on guys like me.

It happened in university, too, when white males were singled out as instituting the bulk of racist, sexist, and greedy institutions the world is still struggling with. “Sure, they pick on us,” I rationalized. “We’re an easy target.” At the time, the irony, that my race and gender has an abysmally poor record of picking on easy targets, escaped me.

And, at the roots, it just doesn’t seem to be getting better; not just in the arena of violence, either, but in a new generation of young, white males who don’t feel they owe anything to those who don’t have what they have, who scoff at “bleeding hearts,” who persist in using sexist and racist terminology in their jokes and jibes.

Across North America, the change starts with us; with stemming the childish anger we, who were born into the most entitled position in the world at this period in history, inexplicably carry. You owe it to your loved ones to learn the meaning of benevolence.

- C.G.

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