Tuesday, July 12, 2016

America, the Land of the Violent

The last two weeks in America has seen a rising storm in the level of violence in this country. My initial response was to withdraw, observe, try to make sense of something that was essentially senseless. I could not write. With each new incident of violence reported in the media, I could only shake my head. And again this morning, news of a courthouse shooting in Michigan. I'm not the only one asking, "When will it stop?"

Daughter Number Three writes eloquently, collecting in her blog post, "Nonviolence is the Way," suggestions for ending the violence. Owning guns is not the way. In every instance of extreme physical violence in the last two weeks, guns were involved. I think that in addition to what Daughter Number Three suggests we need to add the enforcement of current gun control laws, and the addition of gun control laws that ban assault and automatic guns, closes the background check loopholes, and makes it even harder to own a gun, i.e. requiring training before as well as during ownership, registering each gun owned, requiring the reason for gun ownership on the registration, and limiting the number of guns an individual can own. If a gun owner uses a gun to do bodily harm or death to another human being, that owner loses the right to own a gun, no matter what the judicial outcome.

America, i.e. Americans, need to stop rationalizing this violence and finally, finally accept that we are a violent society and we have made it that way. No one else. Our beliefs and actions have created our violent society. And there is one presidential candidate in particular who contributes to the culture of violence in this country. He does nothing in his words and actions to stop the violence or to encourage changing our culture of violence. We need leadership in this country, both governmental and civilian leadership, that can help us, guide us, push us, and show us how to transform our culture of violence into one of nonviolence and peace.

All the talk about terrorism and Muslims? Well, wake up, Americans!  We are terrorizing ourselves with our violent culture. We don't need anyone outside the country to do it for us. Our violent culture makes us weak.  How? By creating such a culture of suspicion and fear. Strength comes from a culture of acceptance, empathy, and unity. Our culture of violence based in fear and prejudices is dividing us even more than political parties ever can.

Americans harbor deep prejudices that have a long history in this country. We have been working to cure those prejudices with education and legislation. But the prejudices won't be cured until every single person chooses to change the deeply held core beliefs he or she was taught as a child, and then teaches his or her children different, non-prejudiced beliefs about people in this country. It's not going to happen overnight. In fact, it may take 2 or 3 generations at least to complete. But it is necessary work if we are to stop shredding the fabric of our society. We need to learn from the past and our mistakes so we stop making them.

Do you care about America? Do you want the violence to stop? Are you afraid? Are you willing to change your beliefs and thinking? 
Change begins small, with individuals, and multiplies. Each person can make a difference by choosing nonviolence and changing their core beliefs. Begin now. 

1 comment:

Gina said...

Comment from Facebook:

Howard Passel
July 12 at 2:51pm

Although our country has way too much violence, Gina's statement that "Our culture of violence based in fear and prejudices is dividing us even more than political parties ever can," needs greater explication. Far too many Americans feel adrift, financially and culturally. The old beliefs seem not to hold anymore. Hard work and education no longer guarantee a decent life and a secure future for themselves and their children. They can't accept the challenge to their objective religious and moral beliefs. Americans (mainly white Christians) have lost their feelings of economic stability and safety. The bogeyman of Soviet Communism is gone, only to be replaced by xenophobia and Islam, thanks to hypocritical, immoral politicians who prosper only when Americans are riddled with fear. Combined with a recognition that American political processes are out of their control and the belief in the canard that government can't do what is needed to improve their lives, far too many people feel that they need firearms to protect themselves and their families. So, yes, "Our culture of violence based in fear and prejudices," but we need to address the causes of civil violence.