Teenager X

When I first heard about the latest school yard shooting, I immediately feared that it’d involve bullying in some fashion.  And now as calm returns and the story continues to unfold, it seems that could be the case.  I thought of Charlie X then and how we’re possibly creating an entire race of similarly dangerous young beings.

For the non-trekkers, Charlie X was the second episode of the original Star Trek series.  It aired first on September 15, 1966, dramatized by Dorothy C. Fontana from a story written by Gene Roddenberry.  Robert Walker, Jr. played the lead protagonist, young master Charles Evans.

With a dubious history as a 3 year old sole survivor of a transport ship which crash-landed on a mysterious planet, Charlie is welcomed aboard the Enterprise.   Once it becomes obvious that the crew has a pubescent teen-a rather immature pubescent teen-in their midst, they take the necessary steps to educate him into the ways of life and growing up, Kirk stepping up in the role as a pseudo-father figure, providing the necessary hand of guidance.

And alas, dubious is the correct word to describe Charlie’s history since, as the episode progresses, it becomes obvious that he brings more to the developmental table besides teenage angst.  And by the time the hour long saga ends, Charlie has telepathically killed, maimed and summarily blasted others into oblivion before finally being reclaimed by his ethereal foster parents.

You can read more of the episode, here.

I see a lot of Charles Evans in the actions of our young people today.  Bullied during a very trying stage in their lives, hormones raging making everything seem so extreme, they’re turning to the only tools they know how to use in order to protect themselves.  Problem is that the tools they’re using are grounded more in our earthly reality and not in TV fantasy.  They’re turning to guns.

Should we be surprised that they’re acting out in this fashion?  I don’t think so since everywhere you look, in our movies or on TV, even in the toys that they play with, guns are an integral part of it all.  Besides which, if you take a look at our fiction, bullies are glorified sometimes and often don’t get the comeuppance that they deserve which would provide a solid moral tale for those young viewers on both sides of the debate.

Moving forward, we adults have to realize some hard truths.  Guns are here to stay; the second amendment almost guarantees that.  And that’s OK.  But what’s not OK is this seemingly lax attitude we have about children and guns.  Just because we’re a nation whose citizens possess this freedom doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t take greater steps to educate our young about the end-game when you play with firearms.

And it’s the presence of guns in the equation that makes it imperative we explain to them about the trials and tribulations of growing up and about life in general; anger management and conflict resolution being a major part of the education.

Someone needs to tell them, straight up, that it won’t always be pretty and that you won’t always be liked.  There will be times when you’ll be laughed at, ridiculed even.  But that’s all right too because once you learn to laugh with those who laugh at you, you’ve won a major skirmish in the battle for self-esteem.  At the very least, learn how to take things in stride.



And let’s educate them about using their hands to settle a score rather than running for Dad’s .38 special.  Let them know that it’s sometimes necessary to do so in order to defend yourself, honorable in fact, even if you lose.  But don’t push it in a manner that challenges their courage or diminishes their spirit.

I’m not trying to trivialize any of the horror that’s been happening by comparing a television show to any of the shootings.  Nor do I want to preach to the choir about the truly obvious.  But I’ve always been one to think that in some instances, life imitates art or fiction.  It’s something we have to at least consider because if that be the case, then today’s youth have a terribly violent well from which to draw their inspiration.  And if all they have is that source, without any extra flavoring from parents or others, then we’re really in trouble.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month and as we identify those we feel are being bullied let’s also point out the bullies themselves because sometimes, they’re hurting almost as much as those they predate.

It’s a win-win situation doing so for both parties.  That way you kill the cycle completely by getting rid of both victims and the perpetrators.  Otherwise, before you even realize it, you might have an armed misguided teen in your face who, in his eyes, has nothing to lose and nowhere to go.

“A man can’t ride your back, if it’s not bent.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Filed under Bullying & Bullying Prevention, Life and Society, Opinion

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