Does violence beget violence? If our leaders speak in tones of hatred and killing your enemies, does that create greater hatred and killing? If we watch graphic movies and play graphic video games involving all manner of death and mayhem, does that make us different, less empathetic, more prone to violence?
I sure don’t have a factual or scientific based answer to those questions. My common sense says yes to all. If we roll around in the mud, we are bound to get dirty.
We have a segment of the population that thinks freedom is the right to have a full arsenal at your disposal just in case you are attacked, or you want to overthrow the government. At one time in the not-too-distant past, it was hard as hell to get a permit to carry a weapon, now (at least in some states) there are no or very little requirements to secure a permit to carry a lethal weapon on your trip to Burger King. Some even think it should be a requirement that everyone is armed to the teeth and ready to conduct war.
As Abraham Maslow said in 1966, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”
I grew up in a suburb of a larger city. Next to my smaller town was mostly ranches and farms. The high school had many a farm boy studying world history and math. I would have guessed that each one of them had a rifle or shotgun in their trucks; it would have been a very normal thing.
There were fights at that school but never a shooting. How weird is that? Plenty of different people, with different backgrounds and beliefs, and a few guns; but never a shooting. Well, I stand corrected. There was that time at the local drive-in restaurant when one of those farm boys got a snoot full of whisky and, laying in the back of his friend’s truck, blew holes in the awning covering the drive around the back of the building with his shotgun. There was no reason for that behavior, but there was also no intent to hurt anyone, only the awning. Why blow holes in the awing, he had no idea. He also was very sorry and missed almost three weeks of school.
Unfortunately, our behavior reflects our society. We have become a mean, nasty place with people on edge and ready to take offense. It’s an unusual person who will listen to anything that disagrees with their views. Discussions don’t seem to happen, it’s mostly arguments. No one is responsible, except the other guy; and everyone is a victim. Those people are doing something to me, it isn’t fair!
One consequence of our deterioration is policing. Say you were a patrolling officer late at night and you saw a car with four males make an illegal turn, would you be eager to write that ticket? And if you did stop them, would you be on edge and quick to shoot. The assumption must be everybody has guns. The protected are now the enemy.
Another hot spot is cramming a bunch of people into an airplane and either serving them alcohol or maybe even worse, not serving them alcohol. Attacking airline staff has become common place resulting in violent video that seems other worldly. Why would anyone act like that?
I have family members who work in food service. They describe scenes where people almost explode and yell obscenities, right in front of their children, over the slightest offense—WHERE THE FUCK IS MY NAPKIN!!!! Obviously, people completely on edge when confronted with the slightest inconvenience become insane. Yeah, everybody should carry a gun, what could go wrong?
I have no solutions to any of this. Not watch TV or movies? Or video games? Vote out of office anyone who says bad things or raises their voices? Bye, bye, almost everybody.
One solution might be to stop awarding bad behavior. When politicians do something disgusting, they shouldn’t suddenly be able to raise millions from an army of rubes. Ill mannered people shouldn’t have millions of followers. This isn’t virtual entertainment; it is our lives.
Whatever problems people are facing, having more guns is not the answer. We need better, and smarter tools to deal with the challenges everyone faces. Listening, compromise, cooperation and caring would be good starts.
We had a civil war that began as a political conflict that we could not resolve in the political environment. I think those same elements exist today. One of the greatest dangers is that it would appear an increasing number of people have given up on politics and have chosen the language of war. Once you go there it will be hard to back track to something more civil. You demonize your enemy until it is okay to kill. After all they are savages, godless communists, demons, traitors……………… and they are trying to destroy your world.