“Where is our threshold for self-awareness?”

The world stopped and stared at America last Friday, in shock. We shook our heads, we hurt, we cried, some of us were grateful for where we live (including me).  In the days ensuing, much talk has been focussed on gun control.  Statistics and comparisons have been flying in regards to gun related deaths and the prevalence of semi-automatic weapons in American households.  Australia has held itself on higher ground due to the response to the 1996 Port Arthur massacre when the Howard government responded  via the National Firearms Agreement, proposing a ban on all semi-automatic rifles and all semi-automatic and pump action shotguns.  This also included tighter restrictions of licensing and ownership.
Politicians have sprouted, journalists have sensationalised and the community has judged.  Pointing the finger of blame, but what about our own shame?
I came across this article via twitter, one of many reflecting the frustrations surrounding the horrific events on Friday.  What struck a chord with me was the question….

“Where is our threshold for self-awareness?”

DECEMBER 16, 2012



What does it take for a society to be sickened by its own behavior and to change its attitudes? That can be asked about questions of power and political repression—and also about distinctive national pathologies. When did a majority of South African Boers realize that Apartheid was reprehensible? How about whites in the American South? When will the Japanese force their whalers to stop, finally realizing that their persistence has caused widespread international revulsion and opprobrium? When will the British realize that public drunkenness—a practice now internationally associated with them as a nation—is something to be embarrassed about? When will we Americans realize that our society is an unacceptably violent one, that this is how the rest of the world sees us, and that much of that violence is associated with guns? Will it be the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School? Where is our threshold for self-awareness?

This event is nothing short of tragic and will impact on this Newtown community and its surrounding communities for an indefinite time. Will this impact American self-awareness? I honestly hope so, but to what degree?  Shouldn’t it encourage us all to have a good hard look at ourselves?  As Anderson indicates above, there are so many underlying cultural practices we should be embarrassed about.  Here in Australia our binge drinking culture is having an impact on our education, health and welfare systems with the rise in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) (discussion for a future post). What about the rise in sexualised behaviour and how this is impacting on our young adolescents?


thanks to Alec Couros for sharing @courosa

These are two things which I see impacting my classroom NOW and it will only become more pervasive whilst we sit back and watch it happen.  Do we need sexual violence to escalate to epidemic rates, or our classrooms, mental institutions and jails filled with FASD kids before we call for action too?

Just some thoughts….I would love to hear what you think we need to respond to now before we have to react to something tragic in the future.

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