Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Ending the Romance

Somehow I manage to find news even when I'm trying to avoid it. I've been looking for peace and happiness, yet I keep stumbling into stories of violence and mayhem.

One morning I opened my computer to listen to a meditation. Half asleep, for some unconscious reason I can't fathom, I checked a news website and found out about the shooting in Colorado.

As I read and listened, I saw in my mind's eye all the other shootings, bombings, and other acts of violence I had witnessed in my lifetime. It was like watching a tape of "This is Your Gruesome Life."

As always happens during these terrible violent events here in the United States, the media and others soon martyrized the crime victims. I heard story after story of the dead acting as heroes. A bloody awful horror story became mythologized into a story about good people doing good things. Romance overtook horror.

I understand: We often mythologize horrible events in our lives. It's a way of getting through them. I'm not addressing what the families of these crime victims have to do to survive this horror. That's their business. I'm talking about what we tend to do as a nation when something horrible and preventable happens. Instead of figuring out what really happened and how we can prevent it in the future, the nation seems to put on blood-stained rose-colored glasses.

The romanticization of this violent crime happened in tandem--as it almost always does when guns are involved--with various "shooters" (NRA spokespeople) declaring that "guns don't kill people, people kill people."

I heard one shooter pointing out that Norway had very strict gun laws, but that didn't stop a mass murderer from going on a rampage last year. The talking head didn't challenge this nonsense. Someone should have said, "Um, yes, but that happened in Norway ONCE. In the United States, 30,000 people die from guns every year. There are another 300,000 gun assaults EVERY YEAR."

The availability of guns and ammunition is definitely part of the problem.

But what's wrong here is more than just the availability of firearms.

We all know it's more than that.

Our culture, the culture of the United States of America, is awash in violence. Violence is an epidemic in this country, and it's as American as apple pie.

Our economic system is rapacious and all-consuming. Our political system is now basically controlled by bullies and nasty foul-thinking violence-spewing right-wing extremists. Our entertainment industry is gory with glorified killers of all kinds. Too much of the internet is populated with bullies, haters, and thieves--or people pretending none of the former exists. These are all forms of violence. (And I haven't even mentioned the rapes, murders, assaults, robberies, child abuse.)

Oh, and by the way, this epidemic of violence: It's a MALE epidemic. No question about it.

I have talked about this issue and written about it for years. It's all well and good to champion non-violence, or champion victims of violence. But once we bring up the perpetrators of this violence, all bets are off. "What? What are you talking about? Men and violence? Naw. Come on. Don't lay your feminist crap on me."

The majority of the violence in this country is perpetrated by boys and men. Yet when I and other writers point out this fact, people often stop listening.


Afraid to wake the patriarchal man beast?

Already awoken. Already raping and pillaging.

Afraid to acknowledge a difference between men and women?

Ah, the difference is as plain as the penis between his legs and the vagina between mine. Not to mention the hormonal and chemical differences.

It is a boy and man problem. Does it stem from something in the water, air, food, or culture? I don't know.

But shouldn't we try to figure it out?

As a nation, we have got to make some concrete changes. And first up, we have to look at the pathology reports: We are drowning in blood.

And let's stop romanticizing those who have been murdered. It's not romantic to be murdered. It's not heroic. It's just awful. There is no good that comes out of being murdered. What happened in Colorado is a horrible event that happened to dear and beloved innocent people.

This epidemic of violence has corrupted the heart and soul of the United States. Since few people will acknowledge this disease, I doubt anyone's even looking for a cure.

Nations are capable of changing, but I'm not sure our nation is capable of changing for the better. I've seen little evidence of that lately.

I hope I'm wrong. For the first time in my life, I'm considering leaving this country. I'm tired of worrying about crazy people with guns every time I leave the house. I'm tired of looking at neighbors and strangers with suspicion, wondering what they're hiding under their coats.

It's not a peaceful way of being in the world. And it's certainly not romantic.


Jason Heppenstall said...

Hello Kim - thanks for sharing your feelings on this topic. From an outsider point of view, it seems crazy that so many guns and ammunition can be sold without this kind of thing happening on a regular basis.

I just looked and there are 12 times as many people with guns, as a proportion of the population, as there are in my country (UK). I know there are historical reasons for why some Americans wish to arm themselves, but it is still scary nevertheless that guns are so freely available.

Anyway, I'm not saying you should move to England - although you'd be very welcome :-)



Unknown said...

Well said. I feel your outrage and frustration and fear. Or my own version of it. But our outrage does nothing to stem their tides. They don't care. And I am right there with you when you (seem to) say that our unbalanced, male dominated world is causing us a whole lotta grief. I have always felt that women are "the meek," and it's time for us to claim our inheritance before it's too late.

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