Posts Tagged ‘Teenaged killers’

Forever Changed Documentary Chronicles the Horrific Christopher Newsom Channon Christian Murders...and the Years of Injustice That Followed

Have you ever read a news story and shake your head and wonder how something so terrible could happen?  Let’s be honest, human beings have a great propensity for unspeakable violence.  Genghis Khan killed entire villages if they did not immediately surrender to him.  In Rwanda it is estimated that at least five-hundred-thousand people were murdered because they were from the wrong tribe.  Today in the Middle East, the genocide against Christians is sickening.  On the other hand, human beings also have an amazing ability to sacrifice for others, or for the good of the cause.  Many men willingly stepped aside so that women and kids could have a chance to survive aboard the Titanic.  Every day first responders rush into harm’s way as they did on 9/11 at the World Trade Center.

In Phoenix Republic my characters, Kate, Megan, & Annie are witness to the result of an American culture which struggles to cope with disaster.  In writing this story, I constantly had in mind what motivates Americans.  I don’t know about you, but in my experience most of us take an action to achieve something we want or we react to actions taken by others.  One’s culture influences one’s behavior and shapes what we consider to be reasonable, right?  What happens when what is right or wrong don’t really matter?

All of this is obvious, right?  The past couple of days however I have been thinking about some of the more noteworthy crimes that have been in the news of late.  I wonder what goes through a criminal’s mind as they commit the most horrific atrocities.  The cases I am referring to have all taken place in the United States and were committed by Americans.  In one instance in Georgia a seventeen year old young man shot an infant in his stroller because the mom didn’t have any money for him to steal.  In another case from 2007, a college couple was car-jacked in Tennessee and beaten, raped, and tortured to death in a manner that Saddam Hussein would have difficulty topping.  More recently, any but the most completely oblivious of us are familiar with the young Australian man that was brutally gunned down because some teenagers were bored.  Notice all of these locations were not in places like Washington DC, New York City, or Chicago where the death rate rivals war zones in the Middle East.  While I’m well aware that Americans have done some truly awful things, I don’t really think that I have seen such a general decline in American values amongst youth in the general population.  The truth is that kids in America today are killing people without remorse.  While reporting is much more intense today that doesn’t account for this level of carnage.  According to FBI statistics murders are down in the US, but while overall quantity is diminished, something has and is changing in fabric of America.  We are seeing atrocities like the ones noted above with much more frequency.

To be clear, when referring to values here, I am not referring to whether someone is in church on Sunday, gives to charity, or supports a particular political party, or religious dogma, but rather I am talking about a fundamental empathy for other people.  In the last month, I have seen news story, after news story, after news story, of teenagers and or young adults’ brutally robbing, raping, and killing people.  These people not only were willing to really hurt others, but these animals even go after babies and the elderly with absolutely no remorse or feeling.  Some people in this country are more than willing to inflict horrific evil on others.  My question is how can one be human and commit such evil?

The only answer that I can come up with is that the range of what people are capable of is really wide open.  What it comes down to is how individuals perceive life, justice, and how they were taught to value or not value human life.  In other words, our culture is what informs a society’s humanity.  I happen to believe that we have at least two cultures in this country.  One culture values the individual and personal responsibility and the other culture values the needs of the collective over the needs of individuals.  When the collective is the important factor, individual crimes become secondary to the need of the collective to push an agenda.  We hear about “Social Justice” not “Justice.”  We are told that we must understand the historical context and the upbringing of criminals.  Who the victim and perpetrator are matter more than blind justice.  Sadly, media and the political elite in America today are more concerned with obtaining power and influence, and of course, making money than with the need to uphold what used to be our core values.  We hand out trophies to everyone regardless of achievement and tell our children that they should feel good about themselves regardless of their actions.  Yes, our kids are entitled to anything they want, they think.   If they happen to be bored, then taking a young man’s life is just something they deserve to get to do.

Should we be surprised then that far too high of a percentage of these kids grow up to be monsters.  In 1930’s Germany, Adolph Hitler prompted much of the same value sets that we see valued by pop-culture today.  I surmise that it is a handy thing to devalue individual worth, God, and moral behavior if you intend to make an all-powerful state into God and the final arbiter of morality.  I would posit that the same darkness of the soul that allowed Germans to watch passively as Hitler took six-million Jewish German citizens from their homes to be murdered is the same darkness that we see coming to a boil around us.  In Phoenix Republic, the much of the story puts on display what it might look and feel like to the average person what evil might look like if good people do not stand up for what is right.  Like us, my characters have to take that look in the mirror and commit as individuals to do the right thing by others.  Media and politics is a powerful influence in our culture, but it is a reflection of society.  The next election will not solve the nation’s problems.  Only we can do that one person, one family, one community at a time.

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