The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘violence’

DON’T TELL (OR ELSE)

Apparently reporting some of your schoolmates for their drug use can get you in trouble as the following video shows.

The fact that the three assailants were black kids and the victim was white is, to my thinking, irrelevant.  I don’t naturally assume that race was the motivation – merely, that the boy who was attacked had done the right thing, alerting school authorities to his attackers’ drug use (or in some reports selling drugs to other students).

This morning as I drove home from the dog park I noticed that the large sign which hung on the side of the local public elementary school was no longer there.  The sign said,

BE KIND

Perhaps they sent the banner to Pinellas, Florida.  I hope that, if that’s the case, they will first get Al Sharpton’s signature on it before putting it on display.

Advertisements

WINNERS/LOSERS

There were no winners in the Zimmerman/Martin trial.  Trayvon Martin is still dead.  George Zimmerman is still living in hell.

If there were anything good that came out of this farce of a well-orchestrated operetta (sans musique) it is that those engaged in the garment industry who manufacture sweatshirts with hoods saw a rise in their sales.  And we had the opportunity to hear from some of America’s brain trust (a number of NFL players and some of their kin) who made direct and indirect threats against Mr. Zimmerman and who spoke of terminating his continued residency on planet Earth.

The DOJ which had been considering bringing charges against Mr. Zimmerman for possible violations of the “Civil Rights Act” prior to the criminal trial, announced today that it is evaluating pursuing those charges.  And I believe that Mr. Zimmerman should be grateful that the DOJ is vigilant in this regard.  I hope that his attorneys request that Atty. General Holder investigate those NFL twits who tweeted their violent responses to the verdict.

But we all know that will not happen.

Falcons receiver Roddy White, who rarely bites his tongue, sounded off loudly on Twitter. ”F–king Zimmerman got away with murder today wow what kind of world do we live in,” White said. ”All them jurors should go home tonight and kill themselves for letting a grown man get away with killing a kid.”

Marcus Vick, the brother of Eagles quarterback Mike Vick, continued a theme he began during the prosecution’s closing argument. ”Like I said before, a dogs life mean more then a human of color,” Marcus Vick said. ”My people’s did 2 years over some bullshit when this dude took a human life. Y’all MF’s sick. . . . Zimmerman u peace of DOG shit if I ever seen u I would run up n let u beat my ass then I’ll pop u right between the eyes u cricket Bitch.”

Even Giants receiver Victor Cruz, who isn’t known for saying or doing outlandish things, offered up a chilling prediction for George Zimmerman’s future, via Deadspin: ”Zimmerman doesn’t last a year before the hood catches up with him.”

Bengals linebacker James Harrison made a very strong point that gets to the core of the case. ”Think I’ll go pick a fight and get my ass kicked then pull my gun and kill somebody and see if I can get away,” Harrison tweeted.

Ravens receiver Torrey Smith, who lost a brother last year under far different but no less tragic circumstances, realizes that eye-for-an-eye revenge shouldn’t happen. ”Also as mad as a lot of people are over the verdict…trying to take out Zimmerman isn’t the answer neither,” Smith said.

Thank you, Mr. Smith for offering a bit of sanity to this conversation.

All humans make statements and decisions based on either logic, emotion or a combination of the two.  At certain moments one side or the other may be dominant.  But the problem is that if we allow our emotions to direct our thinking to the exclusion of logic, our decisions tend to be catastrophic.

Consider that if the Captain of the Titanic, realizing the boat was imperiled ran around yelling, “Oh, no.  The ship is sinking.  The ship is sinking,” rather than ordering the crew to prepare the lifeboats in order to evacuate the passengers.  That might well have resulted in there being no survivors.

And so, perhaps, we can overlook the over-reactive emotional response to a situation that the administration, the media and the self-styled “quasi-intelligentsia” in the black community stirred up and fostered.  After all, making sure that adding kindling to the fire of “race relations” is their agenda of distracting us from the real racial tragedies in this country.

After a few days have passed and emotions have subsided, those within America’s black community who really want to address this important matter in a serious way should start asking some serious and important questions.  And they should look at the facts, not the TV screen.

It is a fact, according to FBI statistics, that when interracial violence and death occurs involving a black and a white person, 81% of the time the victim is the white person.   If the white community has this information, do those in the black community not understand why white people might be legitimately frightened of blacks?

But there is more than this with which the black community in America should be concerned.  And that concern should not arise from their worries about “crackers” or the KKK doing them in.  Over 95% of the murders which befall blacks in America are committed by other blacks.  The “hood” is a very, very dangerous place to live and to raise children.

To my brothers and sisters who reside there, I would say to you that you have settled for enslavement as surely as if “Old Massa” purchased you at an auction.  You have been bought and paid for through that EBT card and your sub-standard healthcare that Medicaid provides and your Obamaphone.  You have sold your souls to the devil – and his name is your congressman or city representative or ward alderman.  And until you wake up and hear that call of truly great leaders like the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. who had a vision and a plan, you will live out your lives in servitude – and you will condemn your children to the same fate.

In the current culture and climate, there are no winners.

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

Other than having read more than my fair share of Freud, Jung, Skinner and various others in their field, I have no training in psychology or psychiatry.  So it would seem that trying to understand the psychology of what motivates people would be best left to those with greater credentials in the field.

I do have training in other of the social sciences – all of which are inexact in both their methodology as well as their conclusions.  But it is not on this training that I will rely in this post – rather something quite different.  That is my own power of observation.

Perhaps it is a function of genetics, perhaps the environment in which I was raised or both but I am very observant.  I say that with no aim to self-promotion. On the two occasions that I have witnessed a crime the police have commented that, “they wished more witnesses were as descriptive and accurate as I was.”  By the way, the guilty parties were both apprehended.  (One conviction – one plea bargain).

I have been trying to make sense of the seemingly endless stream of impersonal group murders that have been making all too frequent news.  Whether it’s a movie theater or a Sikh temple or a military installation or a high school.  Yesterday’s shooting in a conservative organization’s offices in Washington, D. C. might well have been added to this list had it not been for the brave intervention of a security guard.

Can these all be incidences of copy cats run amok?  Or is there something else going on?  The motivation and the targets seem to be disconnected.  Yet, I believe there is a connection, if not in terms of the victims, but in terms of the perpetrators.

It is difficult to walk up to someone and insult that person to his face, let alone take his life.  Direct confrontation makes things very personal.  But it is not difficult to say something malicious about someone and post it on Facebook so that thousands of people can see it.

Are we becoming disconnected from one another on an interpersonal basis?  Let me offer this example for you to consider.

One of my acquaintances asked for my advice about her relationship with her boy friend.  She told me she wanted to talk with him about where it was going and what their mutual expectations were.  So she called to speak with him, actually wanting to have a sit down face to face conversation.  He chose not to do that – although he was willing to discuss the matter – but only if they did so by texting each other.  After hearing this it took me two days to recover from the shock.  By the way, my advice was, “Move on.”

Our technology has done many wonderful things for us.  We can communicate faster and stay informed under almost any circumstance or location.   That is a good thing.  But the bad thing is the impersonality of how we achieve this as we sit behind our computer screens and our smart phones.

Would it have been as easy for James Holmes to pull the trigger in the Aurora, CO  movie theater if he knew the victims he was about to shoot?  Would the shooter at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin have been able to carry out his plan if some of the worshippers were his neighbors?  Perhaps there is something so twisted about these people that it would have made no difference to them.  But perhaps not.

If we are becoming people who can only express our feelings about our inter-personal relationships through texting; if we view each other merely as out-of-body avatars and gravatars; if we give up our innate need to communicate on a personal level with each other through touch and compassion and feeling, is it any surprise that these sort of events are occurring with greater frequency?

I can’t help but think of the proverbial poor fish who are swimming in the barrel, the hunter poised to strike with his rifle outside their little world, looking in on his victims.  And we are the fish.

.

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 CLOISTERED VIRTUE

During the Reformation, the concept of monasticism came under serious attack from several of the reformers.  Among those were John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli.  Calvin, in particular assailed the concept of monasticism and it is in large measure due to him that we have the term “cloistered virtue.”

Christians of that time viewed the world and our place in it as a struggle to enable that which was good in us to overcome that which was evil.  That the world offered many temptations then as it does now is undeniable.  But Calvin believed that only those who confronted evil and overcame it had the potential of being one of God’s elect.  Those who sat in monasteries, far away from the world’s allures could never overcome evil because they were secluded from it.

Allow me a simple example to explain his philosophy.

We will assume that consuming alcohol is a “sinful behavior”.  There are two people involved in our discussion.   One lives on a desert island where there is no alcohol.  As a result, he never consumes any.  But he is not virtuous because he never was in a position to consume it.  The second individual never takes a drink either.  But he lives in a home within a few minutes of six alehouses.  He is virtuous because demon rum was available to him yet he rejected its temptation.

Obviously, the world has changed in the last five hundred years.  There are few uninhabited desert islands left – and virtue is something we leave to dull people who really aren’t with it.  That brings me to the subject of this post which is the horrific shooting spree in Aurora, CO.

If you read my earlier post,  https://juwannadoright.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/i-have-an-idea/ you realize that I do not want to talk about the young man who was the perpetrator of this tragedy.  I don’t even really want to talk about the tragedy itself.  I want to talk about why this happened – and how we can minimize the likelihood of such events from recurring in the future.

But I am going to break my own rule for a moment and discuss a specific aspect of this event because it provides a good segue into my main discussion.  That is that there was a three month old infant who was among the injured.

What kind of people are these parents to bring a newborn who needs rest and quiet to a movie theater with sonic-level audio effects when their child should be at home sleeping?  How self-absorbed are these two – and what further damage will they inflict on this child as they “rear” him?  What sort of future is in store for this infant, growing up in a home lacking positive and thoughtful parental direction?

Okay, I’ve gotten that out of my system and I apologize for what may be a rant.  But I know that my parents took far greater responsibility with me than the parents of this newborn.  I was very fortunate.  And I admit that I’m more than a little mad that there are so many people roaming planet earth who possess the genitalia but not the common sense to bring children to life and then fail to nurture them.

We should not be surprised at the incident in Colorado.  We live in and extoll a culture of violence.  We are almost inured to it through the daily reports of how people, whether a rogue individual, a cadre of extremists, a gang or a government inflicts death on others.

When I say extoll, I mean that we stand in line to buy the newest and most violent video games.  We enjoy movies in which there is violence – the more gruesome the better.  We spectate at boxing matches which have produced numerous permanent brain injuries and wonder why some of those boxers go home and physically abuse their spouses and children.

Is there an explanation for our increased embrace of violence in our culture?  Some will suggest that we have abandoned our standards of decency – and I think there is much to argue for that viewpoint.  But I think there is something even more insidious – if you can imagine something that is yet worse.

There is an historical corollary between what is happening in America today and what befell the Roman Empire as it went into decline.  As the Empire started on its way to collapse, so did the moral standards that had been its underpinning.  Depravity and orgies replaced philosophy and reason.  And the games in the Coliseum became more and more gruesome.

“Panem et circenses.”  Bread and circuses.  It was described by Juvenal as a way those in authority used to distract the common people from the collapse that was imminently to befall them.  The uneducated can easily be lead down the path that leads to destruction.  And there is no one more willing to initiate a policy of distraction than a politician who is looking to hold on to his own job.

So is there anything we can do to reverse this trend?

We can elect people to represent us who hold to high standards of ethics and actually serve as examples to the rest of us through their conduct. And we can rid ourselves of those who talk the game but prove through their actions that they are unworthy of our support.

We can refuse to buy any violent computer games and demand of those companies that create them that they stop producing them, explaining our reasons for boycotting their products.

We can stay home and read books that have guided mankind for centuries rather than sit and watch worthless drivel in our movie theaters and explain to Hollywood that unless they elevate the quality of their product we will not patronize them.

We can turn off our cable boxes and instead of exposing our children and ourselves to a constant stream of violence and infidelity, we can support each family member in a loving environment.

We can insulate ourselves and our children, at least in small measure, from some of the atrocities of this world that we have begun to think are the norm rather than the exception.  Or we can allow our exposure to continue to all that is most dehumanizing and destructive.

Do we want to raise the next person who will randomly kill tens of people?  Or do we want to sequester our kids from exposure to the sort of behavior which leads to these acts of violence?  Isn’t that what responsible parenting is all about?

I guess it’s a question of whether we believe in the validity of “cloistered virtue.”  I think you know where I stand on this issue.

Tag Cloud