How much does it matter if the world around us is filled with interpersonal violence? Does it only matter if someone specifically incites another to violence? Or does the constant barrage of violent images change our experience of the world? How much are you used to aggression in the world around you?
I am an emotional person. I shivered with horror when I read that the former President Bush kept the Glock automatic weapon found in Saddam Hussein’s final hideout. All the power of this country and we keep trophies in the Oval Office from a life-threatening mission that Mr. President stayed tens of thousands of miles away from. The force necessary to stop the brutality of Saddam Hussein has lead to the deaths of thousands of civilians including children.
Violence frightens me. I struggle to maintain my presence when I am face to face with an armed person — law professionals included. I do not take comfort in the fact that children can get used to and comfortable with weapons and immune to violence. May I point out that some guns are not designed, produced, nor marketed as weapons? I have opinions and probably wouldn’t handle hunting very well but I am capable of recognizing the difference between hunting and interpersonal violence and war. I wonder sometimes, if the National Rifle Association is able to see the difference.
I understand how groups of people get used to weapons. I get why it happens. I just won’t be at ease with it. I won’t stop wishing and working toward protecting children from getting used to these images. I won’t stop standing up in a nonviolent and accepting manner to say there is another way. I believe we can stand up to becoming accustomed to violent imagery and exposure to violence if we stand together.
Can I or any group of people force another individual to cease using violence? Well, think about the language force. We really can’t, although many try with violence. The result, of course, is more violence in the hope of ending the violence. Sometimes — my guess is rarely — it works. Think about the reasons why someone might take a chance of using violence against people. They do not seem to consider the possibility that the violence will turn unfavorably toward themselves. And, when the violence turns on them, to what end? In fact, the vast majority of weapons in individual households contribute to the injury or death of a household member in acts of self and other directed violence.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. did not force change. He dreamed of change, he envisioned changed, he ignored the violence of others. Eventually, by ignoring the threats of violence, by standing up nonviolently to violence, by holding his ground he lead change. He did not force it. Could Dr. King, Jr. have forced change if he had more power. If he used violent imagery? Not likely. Malcolm X tried that and he was marginalized by many people.
What makes anyone believe that they are privileged enough to force others to their will? How long does such power last and what does it cost? Recently Ray Billingsley — the creator Curtis (I love the funny pages) — ran a story line in which a character wished for world peace. A twisted magical creature granted world peace in the story line by eliminating humanity. Oops. Human beings will see the world differently. We have different values and customs. We won’t always agree.
Does conflict equal violence? What did you do today to resolve conflict without escalating to violence? How did you give your child the tools to solve problems non-violently? How did you protect your child from getting used to violence?
Do I think violent images in politics caused the tragedy in Tuscon? Caused is too strong a word. What caused the tragedy was the shooter’s ability to get a very powerful and deadly weapon despite lots of evidence that the he was comfortable making threats and very disorganized in his thoughts. He did not always believe that numbers were facts. No one who sold him the weapon was freaked out by the fact of handing something like that over to him — just another day. The Army, however, did not appear to see him fit to handle weapons.
Violence in our language supports violent actions. Doesn’t cause, but generally it does precede. Why do we have to keep it?