Much is being said and written about the catastrophe at Newtown.

The call for solutions is loud and heartfelt. The right solution begs for identifying the right cause.  

The purpose of this letter is to share with readers the view that our problem is the result, not of a single cause, but of a lethal concoction of toxic ingredients:

The promiscuous availability of automatic weapons and ammunition.

Writing off violence as a hopelessly inevitable.

Writing off the mentally ill as hopeless.

Supporting an entertainment industry that pushes the envelope in its depictions and dissemination of violent imagery.

Unthinkingly buying in to the implicit message that violence is a lot of fun (e.g., video “games,” war “games”).

Saying nothing to a polarized political system driven by private interests uninterested in the common good of these divided states.

There is no eradication of violence on the horizon. Together, if we care at all about human life, we can insist that violence, however tragically necessary it may sometimes be, is abhorrent. We can surely reduce the probabilities of more patently unjustified killings.

As our president said in Newtown, we have to change.  

The problem is about us as individuals and as a society.  

Are we so intent on our individual freedoms and the “live-and-let-live” philosophy that we conclude there is nothing to be done to keep our children away from the killing fields?

Together, let’s do something: Boycott violent video games; stay away from film and television programming that glories in the technology that makes spectacular violence appealing entertainment.

Let us persuade one another and our legislators that there are also nonviolent ways to make America safe for the exercise of freedom.

It will only happen if we are the United States.

Paul G. Charbonneau

Rockport

Bill Nemitz would like to blame the NRA for all gun massacres (“Again, NRA has much to answer for,” Dec. 16), but he and his bleeding-heart liberal buddies have to share part of the blame. They, through legislation, have made it impossible to take mentally ill people off the street. They must be mainstreamed. And you can see how well that is turning out.

The guns used in Newtown were legally bought and owned, but once again the law-abiding citizens will pay for the actions of a nut.

Craig Elliott

Bristol

I watched in horror with many others in this country as the news unfolded about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. My thoughts were, “We are hearing the sounds of the late Charlton Heston saying, ‘They will take this gun from me when they pry it from my cold, dead hand.'” We haven’t tried to take that gun as yet. It is time.

Listen to the sound of what it has taken to pry that gun loose: a principal running down the hall to the sound of gunshots, then the sound of her footsteps stop, she is dead.

Hear the whimper of little, innocent children as they look at the face of a man in black, the last thing they will see. Hear the cry of the parents who do not hear a response when the roll is called.

Be there in the middle of the night when a mother and father wake in a cold sweat from a nightmare where they see their child reaching out but they can’t reach them. They sob uncontrollably, and sleep does not come again that night because all they can think of is “what was it like for my child to be shot.”

It is time to pry the gun from the hands of Heston and his followers and silence his voice. It is time to bring this country’s children a safe place to live and learn. The cost of bearing arms is a price we are paying with our children’s lives, in the schools, on the streets. Let’s do something. It is beyond time to talk.

Bob Dorr

Waldoboro

Column on ‘college degree mania’ short on logic

The dead-end logic in George Leef’s column on “college degree mania” suggests an undereducated public is a responsible policy (“Why the college degree mania?” Maine Sunday Telegram, Dec. 2).

Leef criticizes generous student aid programs, ignoring the fact that absent these programs, it is impossible for low-income people to go to college.

If our student aid programs were so generous, why would so many Occupiers say they couldn’t pay back their college loans? While I agree that supply doesn’t always create its own demand, if we put stimulus funding into those parts of the economy we really need to grow — development of alternative energy, for example — we’d be scraping the barrel looking for the educated work force we need to fill positions.

Policy works both ways. Making available student aid so everyone has an equal chance to go to college is as much policy as is deciding that those who cannot afford college but want to go to college are out of luck. What a waste of human resources that would be.

An education is one of the few things that no one can ever take away from you. You can lose your home or lose your job, but you never lose your education. It is one of life’s permanent investments.

Finally, failure to provide an equal chance to go to college, get technical training or any other beyond high school education will only further exacerbate the income inequality in this country.

Jo Ann Myers

Waldoboro

More evidence that society needs lessons in kindness

On Dec. 14, as the horrific details of the Connecticut shooting were being released, I truly questioned humanity’s existence.

That very afternoon, laden down with bags full of party supplies and carrying a platter of bacon-wrapped scallops, I lost my balance and fell outside an office building in Portland.

As I sat there, assessing damage and stunned at how quickly I had landed on my butt, a man (business-type, late 40s/early 50s) left the building I had fallen in front of. My bags were strewn all over the sidewalk, and I was obviously not intentionally sitting on the cold cement having a picnic.

Well, the guy saw me, then quickly looked away like I was a wad of chewed-up gum he didn’t want to step in and get all over his nice loafers. Then staring straight ahead, he walked away. He didn’t ask if I needed assistance or anything, just flat out ignored me.

I know this pales in comparison to the tragedy in Connecticut, but it’s just one example of how flawed our society has become.

Is the simple act of helping a person up off the ground too difficult? We all fall sometimes, and if we could make a collective effort to be kinder and less selfish each day, the world will be a better place. Maybe then humanity will be restored.

E.J. Fechenda

Portland

Don’t Republican voters enjoy entitlements, too?

Maybe some Republican could inform the American public: Why there is such a need to cut entitlements? Maybe they could explain how these cuts to entitlements will only affect the poor and Democrats.

Are the poor and the Democrats the only American people who use Medicare or collect Social Security? Do all Republicans feel good trying to make life harder for the American people, or only the ones in Congress? As far as I know Republican voters like Medicare and Social Security.

It seems to me that the Republicans don’t have feelings for most Americans. We should be grateful the Republicans want to make a deal. Thank you for putting the American people in your cold hearts. What is it, 47 percent or 100 percent?

I don’t know how others feel, but it is obvious to me that the Republicans only care for the rich. If you are a Republican and believe cutting entitlements is good for you, you’re rich or you do need help.

Tom Walton

Ocean Park