Sitting in my front room and getting ready to watch the Olympics on NBC and then comes a break into the program: “We interrupt this program to bring you this special report” and so goes the information about a school shooting in Florida and multiple injuries and many fatalities.
Immediately my mind races back to Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999 and the shooting in Connecticut at the elementary school and those tragic events that unfolded on the television screen. Parents running recklessly with a stare of fright on their faces wondering if their child is OK or not?
At 78 years old, I have to ask myself, “How far have we come in this kind of madness, since my days in school?” In my day, we all wore dungarees and a white T-shirt, with a belt. We all had the James Dean ducktail haircut and penny loafers or tie string shoes with an extra sole and horseshoe taps. We all had that same old adolescent story: A fight for love and glory and all the crazy feelings that go with that in-between age of childhood and young adulthood.
Like most of my generation, we all had guns and on the weekends we would all get together and go rabbit shooting down by Prado Dam in Chino, California. Not once did any of my generation think about taking a gun to school to settle any kind of argument we had with somebody. Most of my friends, including me, had knives and some had switchblades and all were just for show! If we had a disagreement it was settled down at the Post Office or out behind the ball diamond. One on one, not five on one or guns pulled or knives taken out. Just plain old bare knuckles and when it was over, shake hands and go on about your business.
But in my day, television was just in its infancy and the computer wasn’t even thought about in a day to day part of the household; it just didn’t exist in the minds of the general population. So we didn’t have video games of Valor and Mortal Combat, where mass killing goes on and on. We didn’t have cellphones or any other electronic device, on which you could bring up copious amounts of information or send a text. We had the telephone sitting on the kitchen table or on the wall and for information, we had the Public Library with row upon row of informational books. We had the imagination of the mind and not some implanted image on a small compact video screen we carried around in our backpacks or purse. We didn’t have violent game after game depicting killings en masse, mainly because we had just a decade earlier, come out of a brutal world war.
Today, the electronic indoctrination of the youth of this country continues on a scale that can only be compared to some degree, to the indoctrination of the youth of Germany during the 1930s. That youth grew into the mindless officer robots of the German Army that ravaged Europe from 1939 to 1945.
It is not the GUN that kills; it is the constant indoctrination of violence that we see on the screen, hear in the music of today and the electronic video games that depict the constant killing and the fantasy escape which leaves an impression on youthful minds.
The youth of today are no longer the product of their own imagination, they are the product of Amazon and Google and the constant bombardment of information into the restless youthful minds and sometimes with dire consequences.
Jim Garvey is a resident of Kalispell and a former police officer.