Three weeks ago I wrote these words in this very space.
"Teenagers are killing teenagers. People are being slain during funerals. Thugs are killing innocent people for no reason. Day in and day out there is a steady stream of news about people shooting and killing other people and murder has become so commonplace that we are becoming desensitized to hearing about it.
"Husbands and sons and brothers and uncles leave home in the morning and don't live to return at night. It is tragic and disgusting and has gone on far too long -- especially in the urban areas of our country. But the violence is not limited to the city streets -- not by a long shot.
"Some people would have you believe that it is a gun problem. They would tell you that if only the government would outlaw guns then all of the killing would stop. I don't believe that for a minute, but this is not an attempt to open a dialogue about the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. What we have here is not a gun problem. What we have here is a societal problem. At some point in time a segment of the human population has come to totally disregard the value of a human life."
The piece got the usual amount of reaction. Most folks were appalled. I got a few calls to overturn the Second Amendment and leave the guns and the ammunition in complete control of the government -- and the criminals. Others insisted the whole problem started with taking prayer out of the schools. Whenever I hear that argument my rebuttal is that it is far worse when God is taken out of the homes than the schools.
I received one rather strange response from a person who, naturally, declined to include his name. Oh, the brave people who hide behind anonymity. This person said that I was basically an idiot for buying into the overstated claims of the mainstream media. He expressed disgust at the idea that I might actually get paid for writing my drivel and insisted that society was no different than it had ever been.
I would like to give you a couple of direct quotes from his letter but I immediately sent it to the trash, along with all the pleas from people overseas who are holding fortunes in my name and the folks who want to enhance my sexual prowess -- and those who want to tell me what to write about in my column.
I wonder what my friend thought when he woke up Friday in his rose-colored world of denial and read that a seemingly normal graduate student -- a young man with a brilliant mind, from all accounts -- decided it would be a good thing to dye his hair orange, like a comic book character, dress himself in black body armor, like a master-criminal in a Hollywood action movie -- and pounce into a movie theater, armed with as much fire power as he could carry and start ending human lives.
In an upscale area of Colorado, a person played out a fantasy that had been developing for months in his demented mind and shot 70 innocent theater-goers, mortally injuring 12 and leaving others with emotional and physical scars that will haunt them the rest of their lives.
One person was able to play God. He was able to choose the time life would end for a dozen people. He left parents without their children and children without their parents. He caused grief and torment for friends and relatives and husbands and wives and brothers and sisters, and authorities say it will be months before analysts will be able to derive a motive.
Does evil have to have a motive? Is not the absence of motive for horrific acts the very definition of madness?
It has happened before. A guy climbs a tower at the University of Texas and starts shooting at students. Two teenagers walk into a school, not far from the theater where our latest horror story played out -- and start massacring their classmates. It happened in a school in our very community; luckily, everyone escaped alive.
But there have been many other incidents in which the intended victims weren't so lucky. Virginia Tech. Ft. Hood. and now, Aurora, Colo.
I heard one talking head on CNN Friday morning insist that the NRA was 100 percent responsible for the 12 deaths that occurred a little after midnight Thursday. Really? The NRA? 100 percent responsible? You might as well blame Benjamin Franklin and John Adams and James Madison.
Our problems as a society go far beyond the scope of the NRA. We are a nation where marriage is too often an afterthought and true commitment not even that. The majority of families in this nation -- the vast majority of families in this nation -- have abandoned church and all religious instruction. The only true trust too many of us place in God is the stamp we imprint on our money.
We don't just have a gun problem. We have a society in decay. The treasury is not only nearing bankruptcy, so is our morality and the value of human life in that society is dropping faster than home values and the Dow Jones average put together.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.