Flickr photo illustration by Fabrizio Rinaldi

We need to do something, soon, about violence

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By Alan Eschenbacher

Half of the United States budget is spent on the military/defense/ homeland security/Pentagon, etc. The purpose of all these things involves violence of some kind. There is no other use involved, the “so called” security and safety of the American people is the only reason used for the spending of HALF the budget.

The most popular sporting event in the United States is the NFL Super Bowl. The purpose of that game involves violence. In fact most of the popular sports in the world involve some level of violence, maybe not intentional, like American football, but violent nonetheless. This is “sports” entertainment … and we begin indoctrinating our children into it as early as age 5.

“Competition” of all kinds and in all venues and places is heralded worldwide as necessary and good for things like … building character, spurring creativity, encouraging entrepreneurship, etc. Even in business and other non-sporting circles this competition often takes on a violent nature. The “losers” of this competition are in general, the poor, and specifically and disproportionately people who are poor AND people of color. Example; Spokane county, according to last census, has about a 2 percent black population. All Saints Lutheran’s community dinner for the poor each week serves an average of 100 people. I count between eight and 12 black people each Tuesday. In other words, the number of black folk utilizing the free dinner is four to six times the percentage of the population. These statistics are true for the numbers of incarcerated people as well.

Video games are played by hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Many of these games are of an extremely violent/abusive nature and, despite having warnings and “suggested ages” for limiting who can play them, are most often played by adolescent males and young men under age 25. We assume that men and women over age 25 are better at controlling themselves and any violence that exposure to these games might cause.(a highly dubious assumption in my view!).

There are religions, including Christianity and Islam to name two, that have factions that teach violence against those who are different or don’t agree with you … you can all fill in your own blank here.

Now of course, we humans have free will … no one is “forced” to participate or play in these things, and you could never try to limit free enterprise and someone’s right to design and produce and make a profit on a game. Sports team owners have the right to make billions on this form of entertainment and merchandising etc.

I agree to all these things. I don’t agree with the “how” in some of them but for the most part people do have free will, especially in this country, and can do what they like.

Here is my next thought in this vein:

The things mentioned above are not open to discussion. They are FACTS about life in the world. Now then, given these facts, why are we so surprised when people, especially young males ages 14-25, are responsible for a huge piece of the violent crime in the United States? Many (let’s say 80 percent) of the people who participate in the above sports or video games or what have you, are non-violent. They learned from parents or coaches or church leaders or someone to curb their violence and do things within acceptable parameters.

That leaves 20 percent that did not learn to curb the violence learned in these sporting events or video games, and so it spills over into daily life, and you have “crimes of violence” such as fights, rapes, abuse of all sorts, shootings etc. ( I include in this category any religion that encourages or teaches violence).

What I take issue with is all the whining about the crimes of violence as if we don’t know why they are happening. We know the why and we actively participate in it and even encourage it. For example:

“Oh look at this brilliant 22-year-old entrepreneur who designed this extraordinarily violent video game and became a bazillionaire … lets pat them on the back and put their face on a magazine for being such a good young capitalist.”

Or when the “majority” in a religion looks the other way, while a minority teaches violence or commits violence in the name of whatever warped sense of reality they have.

Now here is the sad part: I don’t really care anymore. My wife and I taught our children not to be violent. We are part of the 80 percent O.her children don’t have the same benefit of that kind of teaching, either by virtue of not having a stable family or in some really scary cases, because they did have parenting or religious schooling that encouraged it. My not caring comes from a standpoint of the information is out there, the reality cannot be denied, and I am tired of talking about it, just like I am tired of arguing with climate change deniers. I am done beating my head against the wall of ignorance.

We will both gather ourselves together as “people of the world” nations be damned, and decide that we are going to do what is best for the planet violence wise and climate wise. Or we are going to continue to squabble over little crooked lines on maps and little petty differences in our faith or lack thereof and go on doing violence to one another and polluting the world while hoping for a miracle to bail us out.

The miracle is that we have all the tools to deal with all of the problems if we set aside the borders and the violence and work together for all the people of the world, but we are running out of time and if we don’t do something soon, we will just have to suffer the consequences.

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One comment

  1. Good News, violent crimes have been going down, down, down, for the last 20 years.
    Something is working.

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