Are Older Americans Suffering From Mean World Syndrome?
An 84-year-old Kansas City man was arrested for shooting a 16-year-old black youth who went to the wrong address to pick up his siblings.
Older Americans recently were involved in shootings where, in retrospect, there apparently was no real threat.
Is this purely coincidental? I think not.
I suspect that older Americans are suffering from a virulent strain of mean world syndrome.
The term “mean world syndrome” was coined in the 1960s to describe the impact of media on the viewer’s perception of reality. Constant exposure to crime stories by heavy media consumers leads people to believe the world is a dangerous place. Older people tend to be heavy consumers of media.
This is not an excuse and, of course, the media are reporting actual events that are worrisome to many Americans.
Americans who watch TV or social media today are bombarded by attacks on vulnerable people. Mentally ill men push unsuspecting people off subway platforms. Young men randomly attack older Asian people. A large male-to-female transgender whacked a young man at a store with an ax for no reason. Mobs of mostly black youth rampage, undisturbed. Drivers are consumed with road rage. Urban parks and streets are lined with tents and drug addicts who are shooting up.
Meanwhile, police are vilified and police departments are understaffed. Liberal “George Soros-backed” prosecutors waive bond and refuse to prosecute so-called low level criminals, effectively telling the rest of us that we are on their own.
Where does this leave Americans who are old and vulnerable due to age-related decline. Scared
Andrew D. Lester, 84, is a retired airline mechanic who has lived alone since his wife was moved to a nursing home. He had just laid down in his bed for the night. It was almost 10 p.m. There was a knock on his door.
Lester, who is stooped over with bleary eyes, picked up his .32 Smith and Wesson revolver and went to the door.
The police report says Lester saw “a black male approximately 6 feet tall pulling on the exterior storm door handle. He stated he believed someone was attempting to break into the house, and shot twice within a few seconds of opening the door.”
Lester told police he was “scared to death” due to the individual’s size and “could not take the chance of the male coming in” because he could not defend himself.
As it turned out, the young man, Ralph Yarl, 16, was a high school student who reportedly went to the wrong house. He says he was told by his mother to go to 1100 NE 115th Street to pick up his two younger brothers. But Yarl’s brothers were at 1100 NE 115th Terrace. Yarl denies tugging at the door latch.
Lester shot Yarl through the glass door twice, once in the head and once on the arm. Yarl was released from the hospital Saturday and is expected to make a full recovery.
Life in Prison?
Lester has been roundly vilified since Clay County Prosecuting Attorney Zachary Thompson said there was a “racial component” to the shooting. Thompson charged Lester with two Class A felonies - Armed Criminal Action and First Degree Assault, which carry a penalty of ten years to life in prison. Thompson said he omitted a hate crime because it had lesser penalties than the charged crimes.
It’s hard to know whether Lester is a racist but police say on the night of the shooting, Lester was “visibly upset and repeatedly expressed concern for the victim.”
On Saturday, Kevin Monahan, 65, a self-empoyed builder was arrested in upstate New York on a second-degree murder charge for shooting Kaylin Gillis, 20, with a shotgun after she and her friends drove up his driveway. Prosecutors say they were looking for another house but Monahan’s lawyer told The New York Times that several youth were speeding up his driveway with engines revving and lights shining.
Older Americans are often deemed irrelevant or inconsequential by society, if they are even given a passing thought. But the recent shootings may be a sign that all is not right with them. A community that ignores the needs of older people to feel protected and safe in their own home risks needless tragedy.