It’s difficult to comprehend a tragedy like Friday’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Ct.


It’s difficult to comprehend a tragedy like Friday’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Ct.



No single impetus carries all the blame.



Similar shootings or attempts at malls raise the same question: Why does this happen?



Some examine the perceived ease of obtaining firearms and push for gun law reform.



Others say the country’s sinful ways have invited God’s wrath.



Desensitization from violence in video games, films and TV factor in, some say.



So do mental health problems.



However, perhaps all these pieces form the tapestry of a problem that has a slow burn. A gradual shift in morals, mutual respect and pastimes -- and the toxic results.



Now let’s break it down.



If guns were harder to obtain, fewer guns could end up in the wrong hands — in a perfect world.



Such a scenario could backfire, critics say, as criminals typically wouldn’t honor permit laws. Outlaws can find guns elsewhere, making law-abiding citizens particularly vulnerable.



What about blaming God?



Few want to believe a good and just deity would allow innocents’ bloodshed. But I think it’s more complex than God punishing wayward people.



Chaos happens when community weakens.



If you truly know and respect your neighbor, you’re less likely to hurt him or her, right?



However, with increasingly selfish lifestyles — the Internet makes everyone a celebrity; countless slogans or services say “I AM (blank)” or “My (blank),” suggesting god complexes (the former) or tailoring to each individual’s VIP preferences (the latter) — people’s egos inflate.



Especially in a culture where teachers and parents, with good intentions, insist everyone is “a winner,” setting children up for rude awakenings, shattered glass and even poorer self-concepts later in life.



Under Christianity, people are grains of sand, here today and gone tomorrow, who should “die of self” to serve others. It isn’t the sole belief system that decreases vanity, but regardless of your chosen altruism, the mass media’s constant bombardment of “me” mentality messages drowns all else.



Movies make sin look fun, carefree, sexy and glamorous. But when we use someone as a means to an end — whether for violence or sex — where’s the mutual respect?



How many times have we heard, “To earn respect, you must give respect?”



Commit acts that serve selfish needs and what do you get?



No community — just hurt feelings, distrust and division.



Preachers should cut to the heart of the matter — promiscuity, pornography, human trafficking, rape and other societal ills — rather than present God, ironically, as a bogeyman.



But if they really need a patsy, video games and mass media can fit the bill.



Children are rewarded with points for each kill in video games, which are more realistic than ever thanks to advances in graphics and high definition television. In fact, Dec. 12, NBCnews.com’s technology page reported that more than 3 billion digital people were assassinated in “Assassin's Creed III,” a popular video game we saw on several local children’s Christmas lists. (See our selections in “Letters to Santa,” Page A6 in the Dec. 19 News Bulletin.)



Constantly consuming ultra-realistic, highly graphic violent entertainment, especially in high doses, could it become difficult to separate reality from virtual reality, right from wrong?



Numerous studies suggest no evidence for mass media’s influence on behaviors, but why would advertisers pay millions of dollars for airtime, often employing deceptive methods — like selling mayonnaise with sex — if there’s no sway?



Most people want the violence to stop, and we held our breath Monday when rumors circulated that Northwood Elementary was on lockdown due to a potential gun threat. The rumors weren’t exactly true, but sadly, readers said they wouldn’t have been surprised if they were.



They say charity begins at home.



Maybe the roots of mass violence have a similar origin.



Contact News Bulletin Editor Thomas Boni at 850-682-6524 or tboni@crestviewbulletin.com. Follow him on Twitter @cnbeditor.