Saturday, January 8, 2011

I refuse to accept violence as an American norm

It was a tough and strange morning yesterday. We heard about the shooting in Tucson, were upset, and then moved on to other things. A few hours later I felt so sad and this heaviness on my heart. I didn't know what it was. Then I realized it was the shooting. And then I was so shaken up by the realization that I had so easily dismissed it before. That I had so easily detached from it even though Brian's family lives there. How close to home do these incidents need to be to wake us up from the madness of the violence of our culture? Then my mind started reeling and I couldn't stop crying.

There are so many things I am angry, frustrated and upset about regarding this incident. Acts of violence like these seem to be more and more commonplace in America. The shooting in Binghamton was only last year and Brian knew someone who was killed in that incident.

After watching Bowling for Columbine, the reality of the gun culture in America and how it has made so many suffer just astonished and appalled me. There is such an obvious link between access to guns and outrageous violence, and this violence is so unique to America alone. I couldn't believe the wide discrepancy, even from war torn countries.

I want to believe that an America can exist where we don't shoot each other. Where angry, sick and unstable people don't have access to automatic weapons. Honestly, who in the world needs an automatic weapon? And why do we continue to allow this ludicrous freedom to own one to persist in our country? I wonder, what is the fundamental difference between Americans and Kiwis in that one insists on owning (and using) guns and the other doesn't? Will voracious gun lovers out there ever see the link between their freedom and access to guns, and the senseless violence that occurs in our country? Between guns and children killing each other with guns, etc etc etc?

I think incidents like this up the ante on the fear-based culture we are already living in. More and more people become scared of each other, scared of their neighbors, of strangers and continue to isolate themselves from one another. Look out for each other less. Assume the worst in others. Or maybe I am wrong, I hope I am.

I am starting to believe that shootings like this are not outliers in our culture anymore. They are an indicator, a symptom of a nation-wide disease, a sign pointing to a grave reality that is now - that is hurting inside of many many people that are confused, angry, depressed and alone.

There is really just something fundamentally wrong here that needs to have its underbelly flipped over. Let's really LOOK at this and not dismiss it as just another random act of violence. It is not random. It is pointed, and part of a pattern, and I'm scared that too soon it will be forgotten. Just like Columbine, just like Binghamton. When will these situations ever push our leaders to implement stronger gun control? Encourage pop stars to stop glamorizing guns and violence? I can't tell you how angry I get when I see famous people wearing earrings of guns, donning tatooes of guns. Is this what we value? What we think is cool? And what about video games where children are taught to aim and shoot without any consequences? When I was little my parents would never let my sister and I get play water guns or other toy guns. I remember being so angry about it when I was a little kid, but I really understand now, and I value their choice to do that.

Being here in New Zealand, in a place where this sort of violence just doesn't occur, makes this shooting almost more unbearable. Look, if these folks can do it, why can't we? What does it take to change? Will we ever change? And when thinking about the larger picture, where guns is only one issue in a complex cluster of all that needs remedying in America (health care, the loss of the middle class, corporate greed, environmental irresponsibility, and on and on) a sense of dread sometimes overcomes me. It seems there are 2 definitive groups in America that want 2 completely different America's. These groups butt heads over and over because of the exact opposition of their desires. How do we evolve then, how do we "get better" as a country? How do we ever heal ourselves, each other?

It is strange to write this and then look at #2 in the entry below.

I wonder how this shooting has affected all of you?

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