We already have too many simplistic answers to the question of what causes senseless violence in America. As we mourn the deaths of 20 little boys and girls at a Connecticut elementary school, the very last thing we need is more reinforcement of our preconceived notions.
One example of them is the claim that more gun control will solve the problem. It won't, as any reasonable, knowledgeable observer recognizes.
We already have too much public policy based on irrational hatred and/or fear of inanimate objects.
Before any conclusions about the Connecticut massacre can be drawn, we need to know more about the killer. That's obvious.
But one theory I've heard about violent Americans bears checking. It is that our entitlement society and our indoctrination of children to believe they're "special" may play a role.
Think about it: If you don't expect much in a given situation, you're unlikely to be disappointed when you don't get much. Buying a ticket for a multi-million-dollar lottery is a good example. People who plunk down their money for tickets, then win nothing, don't go off the deep end because they never really expected to become millionaires overnight.
For many years, though, our culture has been assuring children - young adults now, many of them - that they're something special.
They're entitled to trouble-free, reasonably comfortable lives, we assure them in many ways.
What happens when things go wrong for such a person? Is he more likely to lash out violently at the society he sees as having failed to keep its promises?
A sense of entitlement also contributes to selfishness - and most spree killers are extremely self-centered and lacking in empathy.
No, I'm not taking a shot at the education system. Educators only teach our children what we tell them to teach. And it's our culture as a whole that's to blame for the sense of entitlement so many younger people seem to have these days.
Most young people, even the most self-centered, don't resort to violence. But could the entitlement society be the straw that breaks the camel's back for a few who already aren't fully in control of their emotions?
Myer can be reached at: Myer@news-register.net.