News of the recent school centered violence appalled readers all over. In the wake of a murderous gunman's attacks days earlier at Fort Worth, it barely allowed dismay of the prior week to diminish.
Recent columns have featured approaches to the danger and power of guns while remaining true to the second amendment. A later column demanded improvement of mental health resources. Tragedies in Connecticut, Texas, Colorado and elsewhere may have been averted had such efforts been made.
This most recent violence, however, is particularly troubling. Jews, even those with minimal religious conscience, have a societal sense of derech eretz, common decency. Multiple sources admonish Jews to avoid blows. All are chastened to follow the example of Aaron, the first high priest, who pursued peace and loved it, and brought peaceful resolutions to fellowmen in conflict. Rabbinic sources demand that Jews prefer peaceful interactions, even as other sources suggest other responses. Alertness to tikun olam, making the world a more decent place, has jaws drop that a teenage boy acted in such a depraved manner.
The mode of the last attack is especially disturbing. People have become jaded to attacks with guns. Serin and anthrax have been so frequently used that they fail to bring the aversion that they deserve. This time there was no gun, nor poison gas, nor deadly, biological agents as the weapon of choice. Brutality was achieved with a knife.
Readers use knives all the time. Those comfortable in kitchen-craft use them daily, and often have a wide variety of blades, each with a specific function. Bayonets may not be around in the modern age, but special forces still carry blades. They can be used more stealth-fully than guns. For the majority of us, though, the knife is hardly a weapon, despite the danger of a razor edge.
Knife attack is highly personal. Stabbing demands absolute proximity of perpetrator to victim. It must be hard to look into another person's eyes while killing him/her. It is unimaginable that anyone would repeatedly do something so wrong.
What became of “make love not war,” the mantra of the sixties? Woe to the love generation. Is love no longer “in the air?”
Why does it seem that so many kids have no sense for the sanctity of human life? Have the ethical motivations that shaped both parents and grandparents disappeared? Where do we go from here?
Last week's news may have appalled, but what for the next act of violence?
Postscript: As this article was written two more attrocities occurred locally. Even Columbus is not immune to this spree of school centered violence. Gaining attention in the state capital’s news was an attack of an elementary school with gun fire. Two children were injured critically, and remain in critical condition. Elsewhere in Columbus, a small child was shot in the head while sitting in her car. She too is now in critical condition.
These horrors must end. If only there were a simple solution.