Impersonal education factories likernColumbine were a domestic innovationrnof the Cold War. The consolidation ofrnsmall and rural schools into centralizedrnwarehouses was given its greatest push byrnHarvard President James B. Conant,rnwho, subsidized by the Carnegie Corporation,rnproduced a series of post-war reportsrnarguing for the “elimination of thernsmall high school.” According to Conant,rndefenders of hiunan-scale educationrnwere “still living in imagination in arnworld which knew neither nuclearrnweapons nor Soviet imperialism. Theyrnbelieve thev can live and prosper in anrnisolated, insulated Ihiited States.” Conantrnthe barbarian triumphed: The numberrnof school districts plummeted fromrn83,718 m 1950 to 17,995 in 1970.rnBrutish kids will always make fun ofrnnerds, retards, fatsos, fags, geeks, thosernwho know polysyllabic words, etc. But inrna small school, parents or other adultsrnhave a fighting chance to enforce at leastrna minimal code of respect. And childrenrnin small, settled communities grow uprnwith each other; by high school, they almostrncertainlv will have been to each other’srnhomes and birthday parties and beenrnon each other’s ball clubs. Each studentrnis essential to the small rural or neighborhoodrnschool; sports teams and the schoolrnplav and the handful ot clubs (4-H ratherrnthan Model U.N.) depend upon widespreadrnparticipation. (The sharper kidsrneven catch on that forming their ownrnpunk-rock band is far healthier than buyingrnDisne’ dreck or the lifeless pornographyrnof Marilyn Manson and other richrnposeurs.) In a stable — which is to sayrnblessedh’ immobile — community, kidsrnknow one another, and while to know Ericrnand Dylan may not have been to lovernthem, the ties of human sympath}- andrnlifelong friendship with at least some ofrntheir classmates might have braked theirrnhomicidal slide.rnOnce they step out of the bathos, Clintonrnand the Congress and the corporaternmedia vill use the corpses of Littleton asrnbattering rams against what remainsrnof the Bill of Rights —in particular anyrnliberties that might be enjoyed b’ ruralrnand working-class men, for example,rnthose guaranteed by the Second Amendment.rnThe dead of Littleton should bernmourned b’ their surviors and respectfullyrnleft alone by the rest of us. But if wernmust erect a legislative monument tornthem, we ought to dismantle the consolidatedrnschool and the standing armv,rnwhich ill combination can produce menrnwithout names or souls.rn— Bill Kauffmanrn” I T CAN HAPPEN ANYWHERE,”rnsays Vice President Al Gore in his homileticrnand halting manner. He is sittingrnon a panel across from Larry King andrnnext to a psychologist and the ReverendrnRobert Sehuller. Their topic is the murdersrnin Littieton, Colorado. CandidaternGore is clearly taking advantage of thisrnopportunit)’ to promote a liberal agendarnbefore a captive, national audience. Butrnhis is an audience with itching ears.rnAmericans —in chorus with the coverrnof Newswee/c —continue to ask, “Whv?”rnThe question may reveal more than thernanswer.rn”Wliy did these two bo’s commit suchrncowardly acts of violence?” “Bullying is arnnational crisis,” the psychologist responds.rnTaunting and bullying by peersrnprovided die motive for the murders. Wernhave motive, and according to Mr. Gore,rnwe have opportunit)’. Eas)’ access to gunsrnis not only a condition of, but a catahstrnfor, violence.rnGuns and taunts created the problem;rnthus, we must eliminate weapons and acrimony.rn”We need love, love, love,” savsrnthe Rev. Sehuller. “But aren’t men of therncloth guilt)- of adding to the shame felt byrnyornig boys such as these?” King asks,rnand —of course —the Reverend agrees.rnStill, there is cause for hope, according tornSehuller, “since love and acceptancernserve as foundations for Jews, Christians,rnand Moslems.”rn”We can do something about this,”rnGore says. His words reeal a frightening,rnalmost Orwellian scenario. In J 984,rnthe principal method of inspiring mindnumbingrnloyalt)’ and obedience was tornpresent the citizens of Oceania with a visionrnof realit’ that made annihilationrnseem imminent without the constant intenentionrnof Big Brother. But unlike thernproles of Oceania, Americans seem tornrelish the arrangement. Big BrothersrnGore and Sehuller strike a chord becausernthey tell us “wh'”; they soothe somethingrnwithin us, making it easier for us to ignorernthe fact that we already know whyrnand are unwilling to admit it.rnThe motivation for the Columbinernkillings was sin. We are born with an evilrnwill that seeks to please itself rather thanrnGod or our fellow man. Our problem isrnnot low self-esteem, but high self-esteem.rnCulture can either serve to restrain therne il within us or help it to increase. Thernflourishing of evil depends largely uponrnthe fertility of the groiiird into which itsrnseeds are sown. Our lives can either bernimmersed in a sea of temptation orrnguarded by the bulwarks of family, neighborhood,rncity, and state.rnChristians can confidendy speak of thernrealih’ of original sin because, accordingrnto St. Paid, nature confirms in our heartsrnthe existence of God and our need tornobey him. Of course, a cacophony ofrnconcupiscence helps to drown out thernwitness of the heavens which “declarernthe glory of God.” While a culture thatrnupholds a sense of justice, honor, respect,rnand compassion sings in harmony withrnthe music of the spheres, post-Christianrncultures such as ours —which constantlyrnencourage people to indulge their everyrndesire—can only mask the voice of Godrncrying out against the source of the barbarismrnexhibited in the Littietoir slayings.rn”Certain new theologians,” wroternG.K. Chesterton, “dispute original sin,rnwhich is the onh’ part of Christian theologyrnwhich can really be proved.” “Firstpersonrnkilling” in video games, glorifiedrnHollywood violence—these may serve tornenhance the evil already present withinrnhuman hearts. But when they arernblamed for crimes committed by men, arngreater eil is born—one that denies naturernitself Wlien the Vice President andrnthe Reverend Sehuller look your childrenrnin the face and tell them that gunsrnand video games caused this violence,rnthe) are lying. But they are 1 ing to a receptirne audience that does not want tornhear that living in a eidture of lust, violence,rnand abortion-on-demand has itsrnconsequences. Their expert opinions arernthe backdrop of white noise which helpsrnus fall asleep, only to be awakened againrnby the .sound of gunshots.rnWe cannot deny the truth and expectrnits consequence to disappear. We shouldrnnot pretend (as did the Gnostics) thatrnmatter is evil. We are evil, and we mustrnbe restrained. If we do not want to livernwith the consequence of unrestrained,rnrampant evildoers, we must create a eidturernthat reflects a belief in original sin.rnL’ntil then, let us at least admit that wernknow the answer to America’s question.rn-Aaron D. WolfrnB I L L C L I N T O N ‘ S favorite book is saidrnto be The Meditations of the second-centur)’rnA.t). Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius,rna plumpish olume of ethical jottingsrnin crabbed Greek, disdained,rnlULY 1999/7rnrnrn