By DR. REY GONZALEZ, Special to the Star
I am praying for those affected by last week’s senseless acts of violence in El Paso and Dayton, OH, where deranged men opened fire on innocent people. As always, these massacres have properly restarted a conversation about how to stop the insanity – a question which Americans have regrettably too often asked. I would submit that an oft-forgotten issue begs the attention of serious thinkers: the issue concerning the impulses of the mind.
A bullet flying toward its target was first in a firearm chamber, which is part of a gun, which was held in the shooter’s hand, which took its orders from a mind that was shaped over time by personal experiences. If the shooter’s experiences shaped his mind, then shouldn’t his experiences be the focus of any serious investigation?
An Aug. 4, 2019, article in the Los Angeles Times seems to support this modest proposal. In it, the author reveals the results of a two year long investigation conducted by the National Institute of Justice that looked for commonalities among mass shooters since 1966. Researchers found four correlations; the most important: early childhood trauma and exposure to violence at an early age.
This study supports my long-held belief that the single best laboratory for social shaping is the family.
Experiments on conflict-resolution, reward and punishment, saving for times of shortage, and charity toward your neighbor are best carried out during a person’s formative years in this laboratory – the family. Without this laboratory, no experiments. Without experiments, insufficient guidance for the mind.
I propose that there are characteristics of our modern American society that, while not directly associated with violence, have in the name of progress actually helped tear apart at the traditional family – the place where healthy minds are formed.
The cancer attacking the traditional family structure is now being cleverly disguised as “social justice” or “individual freedoms.” We must reject these family-eroding tendencies if we are to stem the tide of inhumane behavior. Let us resist adopting homosexual marriage as a new American norm, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s erroneous 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.
Let us fight for life at every stage of existence, from conception to natural death, despite Roe v. Wade. Let us encourage increased parental involvementinstead of allowing video games, television andsocial media to raise our children. Let us teachchildren that veterans and first responders deserveto be honored and respected for their selfless commitment to protect us. Let us celebrate as heroes of society those couples that reach 30, 40, even 50 or more years of marriage. Let us applaud an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work. Let us display patriotism and charity at every opportunity.
Finally, let us model how to respectfully oppose those who think differently from us – putting a human face on our opponents, as psychologist Jordan Peterson recently recommended in a talk to a bipartisan gathering of members of Congress. In focusing on such values at all times, not just during times of crises, we strengthen the family, and a healthy traditional family promotes wholesome experiences that form healthy minds.
Any proposed solution to the atrocities which we detest that does not first account for the slow but persistent assault on the family is quickly undermined for lack of distinguishing cause from effect. It does not escape my notice that many social ills would still exists even in societies with perfectly intact traditional family units. That is because of the undeniable existence of evil, the purpose of which is to kill, steal and destroy. This is no excuse, however, to give up the fight for decency, goodness and honor modeled best within a traditional family structure. We cannot surrender virtue at the mere sight of the vile.
Dr. Rey Gonzalez, a resident of San Benito, lived in Dayton, OH, during law school and was a guest columnist for the Dayton Daily News.