Newtown, Connecticut: our violent culture
~~By Frosty Wooldridge~~
At church this weekend, our minister explored the violence that killed 20 2nd and 3rd grade children and six adults in Newtown, CT. With point blank accuracy, one 20 year old disturbed kid, stilled the life of those young children. The father of one of the slain, Robbie Parker said of his daughter Emilie, “I was honored to be her father.” I wept as did one of our other ministers. Hundreds of others in the congregation visibly shuddered.
This tragedy follows in the wake of Columbine in Littleton, Colorado 13 years ago with Harris and Klebold. This fall a man named James Holmes shot up an entire movie theater, also in Denver. A Muslim U.S. Army Major Hasan shot 42 innocent people. The Times Square bomber and thousands of other acts of violence have devolved us into a violent, unsafe and frightening culture.
It’s not the individual acts that make us a violent culture. We promote violence on TV with incredibly violent programs like NCIS in NYC, in Los Angeles and in Miami. Criminal Minds TV show creates horrific and sickening criminal torture and death plots. Springer, Povich, Cunningham and other moronic TV shows celebrate illiteracy, the dregs of society and sheer violence. We create unspeakable brutality via other TV shows. Our movies depict the sickening world of masochists and sadists while movie goers absorb these graphics deep within their minds.
In every town, you may go to a video arcade and watch kids commit murder, mayhem, slaughter and staggering acts of violence—with glee, joy and a sense of victory. All of it mindless, yet potent toward further real life carnage within our society.
On our highways, drunk drivers killed 17,000 to as high as 20,000 innocent lives every single year with their weapon of choice—a 4,000 pound missile speeding down the highway at 75 miles per hour drunk or high on drugs—but we refuse to construct drunk driving laws that would make the crime more prohibitive than the offense. We promote alcoholism via beer commercials sensationalizing the lifestyle of alcohol, replete with beautiful women and fast cars.
Our U.S. Congress reeks of warmongering by starting the Korean War, Vietnam War, Desert Storm War and Iraq War for no valid reason whatsoever. We killed millions of people and destroyed millions of parents, adults and children. Millions! We remain in Afghanistan, long after bin Laden met his death—still killing their people and ours—with no positive result.
After the 10 year Vietnam War, over 200,000 of our soldiers became so distraught from their experiences—they committed suicide. Today, an average of four present and former US soldiers commit suicide daily from their war traumas. Millions more emotionally limp along from drugs, depression, PTSD and alcoholism. Some experts predict another 200,000 U.S. soldiers will commit suicide from their military service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
While we war upon other countries for decades, and after Columbine’s mass murders, we fail to take care of our own youth such as the young man who just killed 26 innocent human beings. An average of 18 teenagers commit suicide in America every single day of the year, every year, every decade—without pause.
A mind-numbing 15,000 people kill others with their knives and guns annually, year after year, decade after decade. Equally lethal, although self-imposed, smokers of tobacco kill themselves off at 450,000 annually.
Let’s talk about men beating wives, girlfriends and lovers:
* There are 1,500 shelters for battered women in the United States. There are 3,800 animal shelters. Cruelty to animals abounds in the USA. (Schneider, 1990).
* Three to four million women in the United States are beaten in their homes each year by their husbands, ex-husbands, or male lovers. ("Women and Violence," Hearings before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Hearing, 101-939, pt. 1, p. 12.)
* One woman is beaten by her husband or partner every 15 seconds in the United States. (Uniform Crime Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation).
Our federal officials have arrested and slammed 37 million kids into jail for smoking a joint in the past 41 years of the “War on Drugs”—while alcohol and booze have killed endless millions—legally.
As our government foments, creates and imposes wars on countries 10,000 miles away, we suffer the cruelty of 14 million jobless Americans, 47.7 million living on food stamps, 1.5 million homeless and 2.3 million Americans subsisting in prisons.
The final costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan War will reach into the trillions of dollars when that money could have been used to create a more just, hopeful and prosperous society for all our citizens.
What we need to do
An evolutionary vision must occur within our country. We citizens must create peace in our schools and communities. We must vote for leaders who insist on peace rather than war. We need to move away from TV, movie and arcade violence to peaceful understanding. “Yes,” you say, “but what can I do?”
We need to shift from war spending toward life-enhancing contributions to flourish our society. We spend trillions of dollars on war and a tiny fraction for education and betterment of our society.
What not to continue because it doesn’t work:
· Stop engaging in useless, costly, deadly and meaningless wars overseas
· Stop our empire building by bringing home 450,000 military personnel from those 700 bases. It wastes money, people and resources and it accomplishes nothing.
· Stop meddling in hundreds of countries’ business as if the U.S. ethnocentric position constitutes the bottom line of righteousness
· Stop the War on Terror, War on Drugs and War on Poverty because the energy of fighting anything pales in comparison to the support of human dignity
· Stop violent video games, violent movies, violent TV programming
Transfer war funds to peace funding for our society:
· Spend billions for jobs that give dignity to citizens
· Spend billions on after-school classes, activities and playgrounds
· Spend billions on mental health, emotional health and well-being in families
· Spend billions on high school marriage, relationship and child rearing classes to support fathers and mothers in workable marriages, which will result in viable lives for children
· Spend billions to build personal responsibility, personal accountability and educational excellence for all our citizens to grow our civilization into a positive future
· Spend billions on raising healthy, happy and balanced children with mental health services, parental training and guidance
We Americans need to reassess ourselves. We need to invent or discover another path. We need to open toward a spiritual awakening. We need to move toward slower living, inter-related living and environmentally balanced living. We need to eschew 80,000 chemicals injected into our air, water and ground 24/7—most definitely scrambling our emotions, body chemistries and minds. We need to live and grow in smaller, community-oriented cities. (As John Muir said, “There is not a single sane man in all of San Francisco.) We need both fathers and mothers for our children so they grow into healthy adults who value themselves and know they are essential. We must extricate ourselves from the pervasive violence in our culture by moving toward peaceful solutions, love and kindness.
This transformation requires you, your actions, your passions, your energy and your optimism for the future.