She said no.

I just read a news story about an 11-year-old boy who killed an eight-year-old neighbor girl because she said no.

She didn’t say no about sex. It wasn’t over something so charged with emotion as sex.

It was over a puppy.

He wanted to see her new puppy and she refused. So he went inside his house and picked up a gun and shot her.

It is so easy to say that this is a matter of a parent not locking up their guns. He was easily able to open up the closet door, pull out a shotgun and shoot this girl in the chest, killing her instantly. That is certainly an issue. But more than gun-control, we need to have people control. How have we gotten to the point where young boys feel that the way to deal with rejection is to kill? How have we gotten to the point where being told “no” means someone has to die?

It is to the point where we really shouldn’t be afraid of Muslim men with guns. What we need to be afraid of are young white boys with guns. They are responsible for far more murders in America these days than anyone else.

This has nothing to do with “America being a Godless nation” as some commentators say. You don’t need religion to know you should not kill someone.

Perhaps violent videogames are to blame. Perhaps neglectful parenting is to blame. Perhaps this kid (and all the other ones, too many to name) were left alone for too long, ignored, left to fend for themselves, unguided, unwanted. Perhaps it is all of this, and more. Whatever the reason(s), we as a nation need to figure it out soon, because too many deaths have already occurred.

I feel the root of this particular murder is the word “no” – and how he handled it.

If he didn’t kill her over this, it is entirely possible that he would grow up to assault or rape a different woman who told him “no”. Is this what our society has come to, where women cannot say “no” for fear of being harmed? Is this what our society has come to, where men can’t hear the word “no” without causing harm?

There was no way to predict that this would have happened. He asked to see her puppy. She said no. So he killed her. Something doesn’t add up. This equation does not lead logically from one step to another. And that is the problem. We say we want to stop gun violence, but deep down if we are being honest we really just want to not be the victim of gun violence. It has become random, uncertain, chaotic. Anyone can be a victim.

Long gone are the days where attacks follow a logical pattern. Someone was abused for years and kills his abuser. Someone was in a “bad” part of town and got mugged. Someone got into a fight and got shot.

These days, just going to school can be dangerous. Just going to the movies can get you murdered. There is no logic to it. All the victims are innocent. Often they aren’t even known by their murderer.

Why are there too many guns and not enough parents teaching their children right from wrong? Sometimes it isn’t even as easy or simple as that. Sometimes the parents need a few lessons themselves. Often the parents are less than stable. Giving birth does not suddenly improve intelligence or aptitude. It isn’t a surprise when their kids go off the deep end.

Stronger gun laws will only result in a greater imbalance. More “bad” people will have guns. They don’t obey laws anyway, so gun laws will benefit them and harm everyone else. It is too late to regulate guns – there are too many out there. What we need is to regulate people.

We need to teach our children from an early age how to handle loss, rejection, and pain. We need to teach them how to deal with their feelings, good and bad. We need to teach them how to be with other people in healthy ways, ways that are life-affirming. We need to teach people how to have dialogue versus having debate. We need to teach people about many other cultures and ways of thinking, so they learn there are many ways of seeing and understanding.

Conversations that aren’t mutual aren’t OK.

I was going out into the stacks to get the paging slips the other day. I passed by a patron who likes to talk at me. It isn’t really with me, because it isn’t really a two-way conversation. He has some interesting things to say, but I have a job to do. I’m not going to get it done by talking (or listening) to everybody who comes in.

When I’m at the front desk I’m kind of trapped. When I’m in the stacks I can walk away, and I do. I’ll listen for a bit, and then I have to go.

This patron said “How come you weren’t there to greet me when I came in this morning?” He’s old, but he’s not an old regular. He’s been coming in for about half a year. We talk sometimes, but he’s not my friend.

This happens a lot.

He’s said things like this before, and I think he thinks he is being funny, but there is some entitlement going on here. He thinks he is special, and that he deserves special treatment. Note that he didn’t say “I’m sorry I missed you when I came in this morning.” The emphasis is on him getting greeted by me, not on us seeing each other. It isn’t an equal relationship. He is higher, in his mind.

I said I was at the chiropractor and then the dentist. I didn’t have to tell him any of that, but I don’t mind. It isn’t private. It wasn’t like I was at the gynecologist.

So he says that chiropractors just treat the symptoms. I say “Not this one”. I used to think chiropractors were quacks, but this one has changed my mind. These realignments are healing me.

Mental problems can cause physical problems. Most people say that you can fix the physical problem by addressing the mental (emotional) problem that caused it. I’m starting to think it works both ways – that the mental (emotional) problem can be addressed by fixing the physical problem. I’m working on the mental (emotional) problem too. I’m thinking of it like I’m digging a tunnel through a mountain, but I’m working at it from both ends. I’ll get it completed in half the time this way.

But I didn’t want to get into any of this. I didn’t have time or the desire to have a deep conversation with this guy. He never changes his mind anyway. He’s one of those people who thinks he’s right, because he’s older.

So I walked away after he disagreed with me, while pushing my cart. I obviously have something I’m doing. He crooks his finger at me, and waves me back. I came back a step closer, but that was it. He continued with “Chiropractors just fix the symptoms” and I repeated “Not this one” and I realized that this was going nowhere.

I turned and walked away.

He might be mad, but he has to understand that I’m not there to be his audience or his student. I have not entered into a contract with him that says I’ll hang on his every word. Plus, I don’t like unequal relationships. If the opinions and feelings of both people are not equal, leave me out of it.

I didn’t ask for that conversation. So I felt no need to continue it. Years ago, I would have stayed, out of a sense of politeness or duty. I would have stayed, and felt trapped. I would have hated it too.

No.

Think of those “no” signs. You know, the ones that have a picture of the thing that is not allowed and a big red diagonal line through it. No smoking. No guns. No food or drink. They don’t really tell you what is allowed, so much as what is not allowed.

The only problem with that is that we humans are programmed very oddly. If you tell someone to not think about something, the only thing they can think about is that thing. Remember the old chestnut about pink elephants?

The same works with children. I used to work in a craft store and parents would drag their children in while they looked at the wares. Everything was handmade and expensive. Not exactly the best place to be bringing your children, but there you go. The parents would invariably say “don’t touch” and the children would invariably touch everything there. It was comical and sad at the same time.

Then there was one day where a mom said something different. She said “put your hands in your pockets.” Instead of a negative command she gave a positive one. And it worked. She explained to me that they can only handle so much information, and they forget what they are told to not do. So telling them what to do helps them. Instead of saying “no running” in the library, it is better to say “walk, please.”

I remember a friend who was anti-Christianity. He wore an upside down cross. Something struck me about that. Even wearing a cross upside down, he was still wearing a cross. So he was still referring to Christianity. It seemed like it would make more sense to wear a yin-yang or a Buddha pendant, or nothing at all.

The best way to erase something is to not talk about it at all.

So I’m going to try from now on only to talk about what I think worshiping and serving God should be, not what it shouldn’t be. I’ll probably have to dip into the “not” world every now and then just to give an illustration, but I’m going to try to not stay there.