Where were the adults in Duncan?

BY FRANK KEATING • Published: August 24, 2013

My most suffocating, most searing reflection on the Oklahoma City bombing was the thought of 19 dead children. All 168 victims were innocent and deserved to live. But the children — that was a different order of magnitude. The small, the innocent, the precious. How could such an event have occurred?

Now, 18 years later, we see three children — all born after the bombing — commit an act of unspeakable evil and tragedy. Some say it was a “thrill killing,” although I wonder how one human being can kill another for the sport of it. Others say it was done out of “boredom.” Novelist William Golding was right. He described the descent into savagery of a group of English schoolboys, who quickly lose their grip on morality and become selfish, destructive, killing beasts. The horror continues until the adults return. But where were the adults before 22-year-old Christopher Lane was killed in Duncan?

The epidemic of out-of-wedlock births, rampant divorce and dysfunction in families assured that there would be no adults. Unlike in Golding’s “Lord of the Flies,” Duncan wasn’t an uninhabited island in the sea. It is a comely small community, tucked into the heartland. Duncan is alive with civic activity. It has good schools and churches. It has all the assets one would assume would assure goodness and morality.

But those three boys. Selfish. Evil. Preoccupied with the work of the devil. It would have been better had they not been born. But where were the adults? Did no one see this coming? Was there not a parent, a teacher, neighbor or a pastor who saw the vacant stare, the meanness, the indifference to suffering, the absence of a spark of empathy and decency? Was there no warning? Or were we to busy to notice?

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