GENE ROBERTSON: In wake of Newtown, support and nurture young people

Monday, January 7, 2013 | 12:04 p.m. CST

The tragic deaths in Newtown, Conn have shown how easy it is to create chaos, violence and destruction.

I know many men and women who are spending their time mentoring and reading to young children. I contribute books to one of these organizations. I have seen people relate how rich an experience the interaction is between caring teachers, the young students and themselves. These volunteers sometimes tearfully relate the look in the eyes of children when they are being nurtured. I have little friends who steal my attention each time I see them.

I could not hold back the images in my mind of these little people being harmed in any way. The precious seeds of our world’s future should be nurtured and developed so that they will be inclined to contribute to our world when they are adults.

I ask myself what can we —you and I — do. Newtown does not need monetary support. Policy gyrations around gun control are apt to be a short-term token gesture if they are developed and passed.

Arming and disarming are but empty gestures if people grow up in an environment that indicates the way to address issues is to win and make someone or something lose. Winning can support the use of all types of instruments to many in our society. Guns, drones, bombs, fraud, deceit, ridicule, knives and fisticuffs all result from a society that says winning is necessary for success in society, and winners require losers. Violence is acceptable as an avenue to some victory, which the perpetrator defines.

The environment, which is developing this violence-oriented value system, needs to be addressed. I doubt that we are willing to do the work to address this aspect of our society.

But there is something we can do. You and I can honor the memory of those who died in Newtown by locally valuing, supporting and loving young people in our community. We can do this directly or indirectly. We can assist those who directly protect, nourish and develop our children. We could commit ourselves to do all that we can to ensure the well-being of all of our children to the best of our ability and resources.

We can’t undo what happened in Newtown but there are survivors around us in the world. They need our help. Let's value, protect, nurture and develop these angels while we have them among us.

William E. "Gene" Robertson is a Columbia resident and a professor emeritus at MU. Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.

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