The Sandy Hook Shootings and America's Culture of Death

We must rescue our imperiled American society from our confrontations with mass murder.

State Police are on scene following a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., about 60 miles (96 kilometers) northeast of New York City, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012.

State Police on scene following a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 14, 2012.

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Before all this can happen, we will first need to transform our suffocating public universe of banal chatter and empty witticism into an environment more generously dedicated to real life. In such an environment, we could all still learn again how to breathe.

Ultimately, the violent spasms of American mass killings are the predictable result of a society's pervasive loneliness, and of its correspondingly manipulated obsessions with death. If an alien were to touch down at any time from another planetary outpost, and begin to seek reliable information about the human species from available movies, video games, and television, its conclusions would be obvious. This bewildered alien would have to conclude that our earthling days are gleefully preoccupied with mayhem, rape, and widely-systematized forms of murder (war, terrorism, and genocide).

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Somehow, collectively, we must now learn to recover a meaningful incentive to feel for all others, and, simultaneously, to conspire more openly against the disjointed cults of separateness, alienation, and despair. Otherwise, some of those among us who are most unhappy will still try to discover personal significance and affect in more-or-less random human exterminations.

True feeling and empathy require good people to behave as individuals, and not as blindly obedient members. Such behavior, however, is always scandalous, a threatening intrusion into the compulsively profitable worlds of commercial jingles, mass marketing, adrenalized competition, and celebrity adulation. Yet, even in civilizations on the wane, at twilight, worn and almost defeated, dignified life is sometimes given a second chance.

The terrifying wail, "Long live death!" is the estranged plea of a person who has literally lost his senses. To rescue our imperiled American society from its now all-too frequent confrontations with mass murder, we must first learn to reignite a common capacity to discover sacred and peaceful meanings within ourselves. As long as there are any among us who can feel alive, successful, and powerful only by gaining the approval of others, of those "outside," and at any cost, we shall hear the chillingly ominous cry: "Look at me….please.....I am here....I count for something."

Viva la muerte!

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