August 26, 2013 9:27:55 AM
Column suggests larger question
There's something unsatisfying in Susan Estrich's comments in her article "Looking Evil Straight in the Eye" (Aug. 22). Her theme is the evil of the three young men in Oklahoma who committed the recent random killing. She calls them beasts and says she hopes they will pay for the rest of their lives.
We can talk about the evil-ness and beastliness, but it might be helpful to go further and ask how this happened. What is the cause of such un-feeling attitudes, such disregard for life in this situation and in the similar incidents of school shootings? Why are so many young people coming to be so dissociated from their humanity, their sense of relatedness and empathy?
This also raises the question of how do we in our community foster empathy, compassion and relationship. Are we creating community in our schools? With the people around us? With nature and our surroundings? Do we see others as a vital part of a big picture that includes us? Why do so many feel isolated and ignored? In what ways do we ourselves ostracize others or cast them out?
I heard a story on the radio recently about schools that include in their curriculum training in what they call Emotional Intelligence. They said when students learn to recognize their emotions and are given the vocabulary to talk about them and the safety to do so, lots of behavior and learning problems disappear. Instead of losing time that might otherwise be spent learning math, students are given a chance to deal with emotions in a healthy way. When they're not distracted by upsets and tensions, they are able to be more focused and learn more effectively.
How often does a person give up on school or society when he feels his school or society isn't willing to deal with him?