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Saturday, December 15, 2012

National Discourse


Are we doomed to suffer the tragedies set forth by the few disturbed individuals that will continue to arise as time goes on?  We can try and anticipate the future and all the intricacies that it may entail, but will we ever see it all coming?  Will every variable be hammered down so we can go on living peaceful lives without worry?  Why is it that our country is plagued by these senseless tragedies time and time again?  There are just too many questions.  The emotions are so heightened that it is hard to keep a clear head and get a clear understanding.  I don’t think anyone really knows. 
We as a society, (especially after something like this) want answers, want security, want easy fixes or at least permanent fixes.  I think we are willing to do the work, but what is the work that needs to be done. 
People talk of gun control.  Buzzwords like “evil” and “insane” and “education” are tossed around to attempt to define the moment.  We look for any kind of answer to make sense of this unthinkable act.  The argument gets muddled and politicized until the arguing sides aren’t even connected to the point.  It’s a sick and twisted mess that unfolds all on primetime.  It is one of the only acts of learning that is overflowing with sadness.  There is nothing that can make it right. 
We can only look to the future and speculate as we navigate the roads of taking responsibility for our actions.  But it’s responsibility that is consistently being denied or past over in our society.  We assign responsibility to someone else or something else, anything to prove to ourselves that we are victims too.  We are lost in the illusion of control, never knowing we are at the whim of others.  Again, it is usually the actions of a few that change the course for the rest of us.  The rest of us don’t see how we are all responsible.  And I admit, it’s difficult.  But we cannot change the past, we can only look to the future.  So, what do we do?
In short, I don’t know.  If the answer is gun control, then to what extent?  Cities like NYC and the entire state of Illinois have outlawed guns completely.  No matter what your Second Amendment rights say, those places have made it illegal for people to keep firearms.  But what has that done?  Those places in particular hold high levels of gun violence, anyway.  Countries like Canada own just as many guns per person that the United States, but their history of gun violence is a fraction of ours.  We here in America have an annual average of 11,000 gun deaths a year.  That dwarfs every other countries’ statistics despite whatever level of security they assign to their citizens concerning gun laws. 
How about the opposite?  Back in the days of the Wild West, anyone could carry a gun. It changed the dynamic of our society where any argument could end in a shooting death.  People defaulted to the gun for protection and devalued all other forms.  We make it sound like good people will over come the bad, but that is not the demonstration history has left for us.  I don’t think we as a society are going to go that route again, but it happened.  We should be able to learn from history, but that is a problem we as a society have been having concerning a host of issues. 
So are we just crazy?  Are we inevitably on the path of instability and self-destruction?  Again, I don’t know.  I don’t know what makes us so detached from our fellow man. 
Is it the internet or video games or overblown action movies?  Again, other countries don’t have that problem.  So what is it about us? 
I feel that, like most cases, the fault lies in education.  There is a dark side to our species that we cannot afford to deny.  If we are to grow as a people and as a society, we have to understand our capabilities our desires our fears and all of our natures.  We are animals and we have been attempting to tame ourselves with civilization.  Are we succeeding?  At times, of course we are.  But there is a side that will always exist; a side that proves the few can hold the many hostage.  Whether it’s planes as weapons or weapons as weapons, chances are the victims will be innocent.  We all want to protect those innocent lives and make sure future doesn’t display those horrors ever again.  But can we? Are we able to protect the innocent from all future horrors to come?  I do not believe we, as a society, should spend our time and life imagining the atrocities that the deranged will ultimately surprise us with.  We should spend time training ourselves and our kin to deal with the negative aspects or our world and choose positive, life affirming reactions.  Evil does not combat evil.  And Education is not glamorous (at least not instantly).  It is a slow process, one that takes generations, and in the end, we would be stronger for it.  Unfortunately, our world is too used to quick fixes and easy answers.  We have developed into a society that sensationalizes vengeance, war and combat as well as deny the merit of learning and understanding.  Even the reactions to President Obama’s heartfelt speech included rhetoric that assign innocent victims to his watch and therefore should be fodder for his resignation.  This type of thinking is the sickness that fuels the confrontational nature inside us that will one day explode in anger and violence.  It is a clear demonstration that the mass population does not have the respect and understanding to develop into the civilized world we so idealize.  So, if we are not willing to do the work on ourselves, how can we continually be surprised by the outcome and even point the finger at others?

My heart, along with the rest of America, goes out to the families confronted by this horrible tragedy.

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