I look at the photograph of attempted murderer Daniel Gladden, and underneath the thin veneer of looking pseudo-tough, I see a young man who is seemingly angry with the universe ("Gladden pleads guilty in shooting," Feb. 20). I ask myself just when our society began churning out these conflicted youths who are totally devoid of guilt or compassion about stomping the life out of another human being. What bothers me even more than the anger, the hatred, is the aura of total indifference he has cloaked himself in.
This was the classic case of a young man who chose to ostracize himself from a supposed normal and balanced society. I get the distinct impression that at some point he made a decision to cut himself off from attempting to assimilate into society. Kids wear certain clothing in a desperate attempt to differentiate themselves. They then become labeled by their peers, perhaps ridiculed. Perhaps it has to do with maintaining an air of dark mystery.
The key to Daniel Gladden's choices was a lack of communication. Had he had the ability to possibly open up to someone, a friend, a neighbor, perhaps a professional, the incident at Perry Hall High School may have never occurred.
This wave of our society producing youth who have no self-respect, a terrible self-image, and a wanton disregard for something as precious as life itself, has to cease.
It is not an option to wave off youth like this man has done and take the mind-set that society is structured to occasionally churn out someone like him. It is our duty that this ungodly trend of heinous and at times incomprehensible behavior be righted.
And, yes, as we have an obligation as parents to take our children's tendency toward signals of indifference, joyless, anti-societal behavior very, very seriously.
Patrick R. Lynch, Nottingham