The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘Aurora Colorado’

MORE THAN 500,000 DEAD – AND COUNTING

If a drug were approved by the FDA which in a twelve year period was directly responsible for the deaths of more than 500,000 Americans, what do you think public reaction to this news would be?  If you said, “anger” you must be taking something to help you cope with life.  There would be lynch mobs in Washington out to hang those who were responsible for unleashing this drug on the market.

I am happy to report that, to my knowledge, no such drug exists or is sitting on our pharmacists’ shelves for dispensation to an unwary public.  But there is something out there which is responsible for 517,140 deaths in the period between 1999 – 2011 (the last year for which I could find information).  That something is called a car.  This data comes from Wikipedia and I have posted the link to it below:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_U.S._by_year

I offer this information to put the terrible tragedy in Newtown in perspective.  In no way am I trying to minimize the tragic loss of life of the children and adults who perished in this unthinkable crime.

Nor am I in any way advocating a “pro-gun” position.  I have said far too frequently recently that I have never owned nor even handled a handgun, assault rifle or rocket launcher.  I am not an advocate for the NRA but I am an advocate for humanity.  And as the media frenzy feeds the needs of a blood-thirsty public seeking answers to the causes of this senseless and devastating event, I hope to provide my take on that for you, my readers.

Listed below are the worst tragic instances of loss of life that occurred between 1999-2012 in the United States that were attributable to the use of guns:

December 14, 2012 – USA – A heavily armed gunman killed at least 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, and a body was found elsewhere in the town. The gunman was also dead.

August 5, 2012 – USA – A gunman opened fire during Sunday services at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. He killed six people before he was shot dead by police.

July 20, 2012 – USA – A masked gunman killed 12 people and wounded 58 when he opened fire on moviegoers at a showing of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, a suburb of Denver.

November 5, 2009 – USA – A gunman opened fire at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas, killing 13 people and wounding 31. An Army major is charged in connection with the rampage.

April 16, 2007 – USA – A gunman killed 32 people and himself at Virginia Tech, a university in Blacksburg, Virginia.

October 2002 – USA – Two men killed 10 people in sniper-style shooting deaths that terrorized the Washington, D.C., area.

July 1999 – USA – A gunman killed nine people at two brokerages in Atlanta, after apparently killing his wife and two children. He committed suicide five hours later.

April 1999 – USA – Two heavily-armed teenagers went on a rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, killing 13 students and staff before taking their own lives.

This information comes via Yahoo/factbox – and I am providing the link which also details mass shootings worldwide.

http://news.yahoo.com/factbox-worst-shooting-incidents-globally-past-two-decades-212050118.html

If you add up the number of dead from these eight horrible mass gun-inflicted murders, you will find there were just a little over 100 who perished in all of them combined.  Compare that with the more than the half million who died in vehicular accidents in slightly less than the same time period.

I know there are those who advocate that all guns be surrendered and destroyed.  I understand, and on some level agree with their position.  But has anyone out there advocated that we abandon our automobiles because they are killing instruments?  Would not a logical person advocate that, considering the fact that automobiles were responsible for more than 5,000 times the number of deaths compared to guns used in mass murders in the same time period?

Neither guns nor automobiles kill people.  There are irresponsible people who pull triggers and step on the accelerator who do.  And in the absence of their accepting accountability voluntarily for their actions, we as a society need to weed them out and disenfranchise them from either gun ownership or automobile driving.

Once again, it all comes down to taking responsibility for one’s actions.  We cannot and should not let government be the mediator for what we inherently know is right but choose to ignore because we are specially privileged or simply don’t think we will get caught doing something we know is wrong.

The next time you break a traffic law, ask yourself why you feel so empowered to violate the common good.  What makes you so special?  Oh, you were on your way to a service commemorating the lives of those lost in Newtown.  Well, I guess that makes it officially okay.  And while you may not have taken a life in your haste to do the “honorable thing” today, there may come a time when that is not the case.

And then we will read a little squib in the paper, such as many that we have seen, where you will receive your five minutes of ignominy about how you killed an elderly woman who was disoriented in trying to cross the road, mowed down by your speeding SUV.  Because we do not react nearly so ferociously to one old lady’s death as we do to the deaths of twenty children, you will fade quickly from the public’s memory as you serve out your jail time. 

You might have deserved a brighter star on the “Wall of Shame” if you had just gunned down the old woman.  That would be something that we would remember for an extra  nanosecond.

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BOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD

It’s nine days after the murders and injuries occurred in Aurora, CO.  Several of the victims have been buried.  We await the arraignment of the suspect tomorrow.  And business goes on as usual in Hollywood, with the exception that instead of reporting the amount of money, “The Dark Knight Rises” earned on it’s opening weekend immediately, those figures were withheld until now, “out of respect for the victims.”

On January 18, 2012 thousands of bloggers and businesses “went dark” for twelve hours to protest what we believe was an attempt by the Congress to try to restrict freedom of access to the internet.  You might have thought that sort of protest was something that would be orchestrated in China – but it happened here in the United States of America.  I am proud to say I participated in that protest.

The bills passing through Congress were largely supported by the Hollywood infrastructure.  Their reasoning was that these bills were designed to protect their proprietary intellectual property from theft.  I support that principle because it is just and fair, but unfortunately the bills went further and could be interpreted far more broadly than it appeared from a superficial reading.

“Out of respect for the victims” I would have been impressed if Hollywood had done something truly dramatic – like simultaneously cancel one showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” at all theaters throughout the world.  It would have cost them nothing and might have actually drawn more viewers who, like me, felt this was a display of true soul and compassion by the creators of this picture.

Perhaps there is a reason this did not happen – a good reason.

Since the shootings the mainstream media have been filled with discussions about weapons and restricting access to them.  It sells tabloids and rivets us to our nightly news shows.  Comparatively little has been said about the culture of violence in our society which might drive a person to commit the atrocity of which James Holmes is accused.

I remember, as a child, hearing that old Chinese expression, “Monkey see, Monkey do.”  I understood it’s meaning as a six year old and nothing has changed in the intervening years to change that but merely reinforce it.

It is hard for anyone but the most zealous stalwart supporter to argue against the fact that the movies that are released have become more and more violent with each incarnation.  And while this may not be the only cause for the increased violence and hostility in our society, it is hard to believe that it doesn’t bear at least some of the responsibility.

A person could make the argument that if consumers didn’t readily agree to buy what Hollywood has to sell, they would have to change their product line.  That is an extremely valid point.  But it is also one that could be made about a person who sells heroin or crack cocaine.

I in no way want to imply that I am looking to impose yet more regulation and censorship than already exists other than responsible self-regulation.  To do so would be fruitless anyway as Hollywood is too snugly in bed with this administration.

But I would ask those producers and directors and screen writers to look back to a golden age in their history when they made quality, non-violent and just plain fun movies to which we could bring the kids without fear of what they would see or hear.  That really happened, once upon a time in America.

ON VOLUNTEERS AND COERCION

Until 1973, the United States relied on conscription to staff its armed forces.  We have since moved to an all volunteer military and there are apparently a sufficient number of Americans who feel that serving their country in this way is their calling.  We have not had a problem staffing the various branches of our military service.

This serves to illustrate my point that there are many of us who are motivated not so much by coercion as we are by generosity and a sense of responsibility.  I would like to offer some specific examples of the kind of outreach which Americans exhibit.

In less than a week after the death spree occurred in Aurora, CO, there has been more than $2 million raised to benefit the families of the victims and the survivors.  No one held a gun to the head of these contributors.  They made these donations out of love and because they wanted to help the victims and their families.

This spirit of generosity, compassion and concern for our fellows is the premise on which the Founding Fathers drew the faith to believe that our grand experiment in democracy would persevere.

This is the spirit that guided us in establishing the Marshall Plan to help rebuild Europe after World War II through our gifts and loans and led us to assist Japan in rebuilding their nation.

This is a spirit that has set the world on fire – a shining beacon of what people, if allowed, can become and will do.  This is a spirit which those in Washington would do well to recognize because, if they do not, enough of us will one day reject their petty notion that only through coercion can they achieve their goals.  Following their present path will ultimately strike the death knell for their agenda of self-aggrandizement and we will no longer tolerate their abdication of their solemn and sworn duties.

Symbols are important things in our lives.  With the constant blather about who should pay more and who should pay less, I call on those leaders whom we have favored with our votes and who represent us to show some backbone and be the first in line to set an example.  Vote yourselves a pay cut – even if it is a symbolically small one – to let us know that you are serious about finding solutions instead of talking with the sole purpose of getting yourselves re-elected.

And then, offer us ordinary citizens the privilege of following your example.  Change the title of the box which allows us to contribute one or two dollars toward the Presidential Election Fund on our tax returns to one that allows us to contribute that amount or more to help reduce the national debt.  Of course, we expect that if you do that you will already have gotten serious about balancing the budget and this money will not simply fall into the trough of additional wasteful spending.

Apparently, our politicians have a very self-centered view of life as this concept of generosity seems to be alien to them.  They produce laws based on what they know and who they are.

But the American people do have a greater spirit than those whom they elect to serve.  And the example of generosity following the Colorado shootings should be a wake up call for them.

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