It's undeniably difficult to wrap your mind around the mass murder at Sandy Hook. When we try to think of the "why's" it leaves more unanswered questions than we can stomach.
Some reach out and blame his mother.
Others try to say it's the gun culture.
Some will try and put Lanza in a category of mentally ill.
And Others can resign the event away to pure evil.
But no matter what box you try to compartmentalize this awful event, there are a few interesting details emerging in this new 200 Page report that may cause us as a culture to step back and ponder.
One New York Police officer, Harry Houk, was interviewed this morning on CNN's morning show and his disclosure revealed many tell tale signs we all need to be watching for in our own homes.
A Culture of Isolation
In the report, Lanza was said to have orchestrated an environment of privacy. This tension is one I see all over the country when talking to parents. There's a cultural core of privacy we hold dear and often extend that privacy to members of our own home. Lanza covered his windows with black garbage sacks, wouldn't allow his own mother to even enter the room, and basically set up an environment where the boundaries were clear for him to begin a long thoughtful process of his massacre.
As parents, we need to see this as a warning sign rather than just a "teenager" who wants to live in privacy. When students cross the boundary between normal solitude to absolute isolation, we need to step in. Isolation only breeds someone who is able to live in a world apart from the normal. When we get out of touch with real people, real feelings, real emotions; and we create internal perspective, danger is looming.
A culture of Violence
Many Anti-Gun advocates point to the weapons Lanza used in his massacre, and try to logically say "If only we kept the guns this wouldn't have happened." Certainly there's a surface story that seems easy, but we've got to challenge the logic. Would Lanza have murdered if he didn't have access to the same weapons? We'll never know.
What we do know is the body count of 27 young children in the time of 10 minutes screams of weapons that give someone the ability to achieve this goal of mass murder, but it seems to me not the heart of the issue. The guns only served as the method of the day, and if someone is intent on killing there are many more options. Guns were just his way this time.
A more compelling look at the violence culture would be to see how Lanza trained his mind to think about Murder. The Movies found in his room, still un-named for some reason, have been described as grossly violent. The video games "Call of Duty" and "Grand Theft Auto" were also named as media found in his room.
Don't get me wrong, I don't think video games MAKE anyone murder, but the Criminal Psychiatrist examining the case said, "I wouldn't let my kids play those games, and every parent who has those games in their homes should pile them in the front yard and burn them all."
Not long ago, I had a chance to talk with a Canadian Special forces soldier who told me how they train killers in Canada. He said they used video games to de-synthesize soldiers to the facts they are actually taking someone else's life. The Video game is just a game, and therefore as you train your mind for killing, it gives a bridge effect plausible to think you're actually living in the game. Even if there's a chance it may breed violent behavior, why would anyone take the opportunity?
A Culture of Celebrity
Also found in Lanza's room was a spreadsheet of stories articulating mass murders here in America. He seemed to be studying a way to be important on a larger stage. The number 27 was important to Lanza, as he wanted to be counted among the news stories he read about, and he needed to be at the top of the list. Somewhere in his isolated existence, being known for something, even if it was murder, was important.
We CANNOT underestimate this culture we live in. We celebrate violence, we celebrate achievement, and we celebrate significance. Until we have a cultural shift to demonize this behavior instead of using these events as sensational, Lanza is just one of many young men who are training in our backyards right now.
So ultimately Lanza is responsible for the shootings at Sandy Hook, but we all need to take a long look at the fertile culture we are creating. There's no way we can say "it was the video games" or "it was the movies" or even "it was his parents." But if we take the lessons we learn from this particular event, we might be able to live a bit longer with our kindergarten kids who will be the subject of future would be celebrities.