one is insulated from this erratic tide of outburst and regret; it
reaches into all of our lives in one way or another."
Daniel Goleman, Emotional
Intelligence, Part 2
In stark contrast, some items from this week's paper:
- At a local school, a nine-year-old goes on a rampage, pouring
paint over school desks, computers, and printers, and vandalizing a
car in the school parking lot. The reason: some third-grade
classmates called him a "baby" and he wanted to impress
- Eight youngsters are wounded when an inadvertent bump in a crowd
of teenagers milling outside a Manhattan rap club leads to a shoving
match, which ends when one of those affronted starts shooting a .38
caliber automatic handgun into the crowd. The report notes that such
shootings over seemingly minor slights, which are perceived as acts
of disrespect, have become increasingly common around the country in
- For murder victims under twelve, says a report, 57 percent of the
murderers are their parents or stepparents. In almost half the
cases, the parents say they were "merely trying to discipline
the child." The fatal beatings were prompted by
"infractions" such as the child blocking the TV, crying,
or soiling diapers.
- A German youth is on trial for murdering five Turkish women and
girls in a fire he set while they slept. Part of a neo-Nazi group,
he tells of failing to hold jobs, of drinking, of blaming his hard
luck on foreigners. In a barely audible voice, he pleads, "I
can't stop being sorry for what we've done, and I am infinitely
Each day's news comes to us rife with such reports of the
disintegration of civility and safety, an onslaught of mean-spirited
impulse running amok. But the news simply reflects back to us on a
larger scale a creeping sense of emotions out of control in our own
lives and in those of the people around us. No one is insulated from
this erratic tide of outburst and regret; it reaches into all of our
lives in one way or another.
The last decade has seen a steady drumroll of reports like these,
portraying an uptick in emotional ineptitude, desperation, and
recklessness in our families, our communities, and our collective fives.
These years have chronicled surging rage and despair, whether in the
quiet loneliness of latchkey kids left with a TV for a babysitter, or in
the pain of children abandoned, neglected, or abused, or in the ugly
intimacy of marital violence.