“Destroy another fetus now/We don’t like children anyhow” wrote the singer/poet Leonard Cohen in one of his recent songs on American society. Most members of that society, however, would strongly disagree with Cohen’s assessment, for Americans consider themselves to be one of the most “children-friendly” nation in the world. Overall, they are staunch anti-abortionists and they spend considerable time and energy protecting the rights of the unborn. It seems, however, that after the actual births, the adults either lose the interest in the children or lose the ability to manage them and make them into the relatively happy people able to cope with life’s realities.
The children have repaid the parents by becoming the most violent generation America has ever seen. The high schools in this country have literally turned into battlefields where the typical teenage troubles and disagreements are handled by means of bullets and guns. Every month or so there is a breaking news report on yet another shooting spree in an American high school and the strict laws that are being enforced here only seem to make the matters worse. According to all accounts, this is a bad time to be a teenager in America although being a teenager may not be a particularly joyful affair in any country at any time.
So who are these teenagers that decide to take matters into their own hands and get even for the injustices accrued by spraying undiscriminating bullets at their peers? Are they just plain killers or they are the unfortunate products and victims of this society. Let us take a look at one of them. Andy Williams is a fifteen-year-old teenager who made the national news several weeks ago by opening fire in his California high school. He killed two students and wounded thirteen by evenly strolling through the school hallway and smiling coldly as he pulled the trigger. His peers were amazed at his cruelty and his teachers were terrified of the boy’s lack of remorse. He was arrested and the public cried for Williams to be charged as an adult. If he is found guilty as an adult, he will spend the rest of his life or its semblance in the prisons. The “children-loving” Americans are demanding that death-penalty should be made legal in juvenile crime cases and cite Andy Williams as a perfect candidate for it.
Being more judgmental and revenge-hungry than the God of the Old Testament, they believe that punishment and stricter regulations are going to cure the cancerous growths in their society which, like the aforementioned God, they deem to be perfect only because they created it. But let us stick with the likes of Andy Williams who, regardless of laws and the lawmakers, are growing in numbers in astronomical proportions. Williams is what you would call a “sensitive” teenager who, according to everyone that knew him before the shooting had a particularly sweet disposition and a caring heart. He was known to be kind to animals and younger kids and despite his young age already had a girlfriend whose family adored him. Being of slight built and physically underdeveloped compared to the popular athletic types, Williams compensated by being an avid reader: a trait almost unheard of in today’s America. He was bullied a lot by the above athletes who laughed at his undersized body and oversized ears and one day he decided to snap and do his own share of bullying. When he appeared in court, Williams did not look cold or cruel to me. He looked frozen and beyond any pain or sadness. He looked like someone who has just lost his innocence and was shocked by the event. He looked not like criminal or a killer but like a lost soul who was gifted enough to stray from the boorish crowd but took a wrong turn.
I thought that if J.D.Salinger’s famous character from the “Catcher in the Rye”, Holden Caulfield, were to come alive, he would resemble Andy Williams. Holden, like Williams, found his society to be full of pain and bullshit but he controlled his anger as far as the outside world was concerned and limited himself to beating the crap out of one his classmates. Then, much like his author and creator, he dropped out of life. Half a century lies between the fictional Holden Caulfield and much too real Andy Williams.
During these fifty years, the drop-outs, the refuseniks of the world’s order have decided to take the guns into their hands and murder those who make their everyday existence painful. My personal sympathies lie with the Holden Caulfields of the world rather than their tormentors – the empty-headed jocks for whom throwing a footbal and laying a dyed-blonde cheerleader constitutes the extent of the American dream. The reason Holden Caulfield turned into Andy Williams is simple, in my opinion: this society has become increasingly intolerant and demands nothing but unanimity in action from its members who usually follow the above credo if they want to survive. Anything that even slightly swerves from the boring and bland norm of American standards is considered a threat here. To put it shortly - if you want to be accepted, you need to think, look, and feel like everyone else.
And this rule governs not only the vulnerable teenagers but extends to the generation of their parents. It is precisely the latter generation that created this uniform society where diversity is just an empty word, much like democracy or freedom. I believe American adults should not be surprised that they have produced monsters: after all, they were too busy chasing their bland and identical American dreams while their children were getting brainwashed and brain-dead by computer games and the PG-rated garbage which Hollywood calls films. If they want their children to stop shooting one another they better find the time and… Come to think of it, there are no more “ands”. I believe this society has reached such a high point of spiritual vacuum that no laws and no parental lectures are going to do any good. At this point, the adults should feast their aging eyes on whatever petty possessions they have accumulated over the years and hand the future over to the next generation – that of natural born killers.
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