Of the Portland shooting it was said that “it could have been so much worse,” and then in Connecticut it was so much worse. As the lady responded when asked what could you say to a parent who had lost a child, “There are no words.” And yet President Obama found just the right words. He was genuine and moving, and it was one of the few times recently that I felt a real connection with him
While I am not opposed to gun control, own no guns myself, am only indifferently supportive of the second amendment, and utterly loathe the NRA, I think the problem goes deeper than guns. A sickness is creeping over this country and one symptom of that illness is an ever growing worship of violence and death.
We use assassination as an instrument of foreign policy. Our president used “Osama bin Laden is dead” as a campaign slogan; a slogan which everywhere met with great cheers. We strongly support the raining down of Hellfire missiles into villages of nations with which we are not at war, targeting people whose names we do not even know. Our president meets weekly to manage the “kill list” of those we do know, ordering execution without any process of law. We support the use of torture when it is done for the purpose of “keeping us safe.”
Our government has been engaged in continuous wars for more than a decade; wars that are demonstrably unjust or for which no meaningful reason can be given. We cannot even name the number of people who have been killed, injured or driven out of their home countries by our wars, other than that it is in the tens of millions. We have, and continue to maintain, a war machine bigger than the rest of the world combined, and we use it as a threat to implement “regime change” for any nation that displeases us.
At home we imprison more people than any nation in the world, do so in inhumane conditions, and we use capital punishment.
Government and the media endlessly warn us of terrorists, foreign and domestic, lurking everywhere waiting for the moment when they can deploy their “weapons of mass destruction” and kill us all. They make dramatic presentations of mass death and destruction which they have prevented with their “stings” here at home, and write news items of the “suspected militants” that were killed by Hellfire missiles overseas. They seldom mention the women and children who were slaughtered by those missiles.
We do not have discussions of differing ideas, we spew intolerance and hatred, regard those who disagree with us as evil and call them terrorists. We pontificate on the victimization of the common man, one side painting government as the evil party, and the other demonizing big business and the rich, but both portraying the vanishing middle class as the powerless and helpless party being preyed upon by others.
The fear and frustration, the sense of helplessness, turns all too often to irrational anger, and then to rage. Perhaps we should be grateful that such rage does not get unleashed more often.
But to reduce violence we need to start at the top. Start by eliminating the violence engaged in by our leaders. Stop the violence and death which is being done in our name.