Illusions in America Today #7

I am dismayed to see this morning, yet again, that another tragic incident of mass murder has occured in our country. Sadly, the frequency of these events numbs us to their horror and paralyzes our collective action. Time and again, we read about the inability of our governments to address the issues and of our courts to maintain an equitable system of justice.

So, what is the answer? Do we lobby for tighter gun control? Do we advocate for more rational sentencing for violent crimes? Do we seek to ban televnision programming that glorifies serial killers? These are all potentially worthy responses. But, the root of the problem would remain. The root of the problem is the acceptance of violence as ever being a solution to our problems.

Now, you may immediately think, “But, what do I do when faced with the threat of violence, with the evil actions of others…do I just roll over and let them win?” My answer is no. Does this mean that we let tyrants engage in genocide? Of course not. But, we must disillusion ourselves of the notion that in the long-term violence ever breeds anything but more violence. We must begin to commit to a societal course of nonviolence if we are to ever end the stranglehold it has on our lives. What would such a commitment mean?

  • We would strive toward a vision of national policy where every possible means is exhausted before ever considering aggressive military action.
  • We would plan for the eventual cesassion of the production and sales of all weaponry.
  • We would initiate curricular reforms in our schools to promote the principles of nonviolence and peace at every level of society.
  • We would craft more fair and constructive techniques to address criminal justice challenges, starting with the elimination of the death penalty.
  • We would migrate our investments in war to investments in domestic health and to ameliorating sources of violence, such as economic injustice, fear, hate, and poverty.

At the local level, what specific actions would an intentional community undertake to model a commitment to nonviolence?

  • All private ownership of guns would be banned. The founders of this nation never envisioned the society of today and would have been appalled at our allowing of a fringe misreading of the Bill of Rights to directly lead to thousands of murders each year.
  • Children would be taught conflict resolution skills and the community would openly and cooperatively resolve differences divorced from influences of privilege.
  • Punishments for crime would involve community service and constructive action rather than incarceration.
  • Physical and mental health provision would be a top priority for the community, to avoid the majority of problems that lead to violent behavior.

Like many of the illusions facing us today, the solution is about vision and finding the courage to name that vision and struggle toward its achievement. Prophets throughout history have taught us that nonviolence is the path to justice and the defense of human rights. Maybe we cannot achieve their dream in one lifetime, or even two or three. But, until we commit to achieving the vision, we will continue to read headlines about senseless death.

2 thoughts on “Illusions in America Today #7

  1. Jeff, Some interesting points regarding guns in our society, and I agree with most of them, however, the outlaw of private gun ownership in this country will never happen. Our history is one of violence after all.However, with the spate of campus shootings, a few points here to ponder.First, the pressure of going to college to be “successfull” is overrated and causes undue stress. Perhaps eeryone is simply not cutout for this mythical yellow brick road. The difference today, compared with thirty years ago, is that a man could get a good paying job in a mill, or jump a steamer to Jakarta to get away from it all. Putting a man in a rat cubicle as a measure of success is both wrong and shortsighted.This relates, I think, in the dissolution of the role of fatherhood in our “gender-neutral” society. Boys without a father figure for guidance are poor candidated for responsible gun ownership.And I do think that less violence would be a good thing. The whole process of desensitization is a bad thing. In the good old days, guys would go off to war and experience the true horrors of war, and many came back detesting senseless violence. In this respect, war is a good thing. But at the very least, compulsory military serice woud give young men a taste of discipline, and a respect for the use of firearms that is lacking in their fatherless families. Yes, the Army taught me MUCH more than simply firing a gun.In addition, I am all in faor of different approaches to the crime and punishment business/state that has been constructed these past twenty years.That is about it for now.Beelzebubba from the TIAS board.


  2. Jeff,I think that the problem is much more deep-seated than social injustice, lack of opportunity, or any of the other explanations of violence you brought up. It has been a part of humanity since the beginning, and it will be until the end. I think that the best way to deal with our innate tendency towards violence is to deal with it in as constructive of a manner as possible.I have been taking judo classes for the last two years, although I haven’t been going recently, but I think that that type of education is essential in dealing with our violent sides. If everyone knew how to defend themselves, to one degree or another, we would all be much less likely to resort to violence under the slightest provocation. Also classes like those allow us to vent our frustration, aggression, anger, and other emotions that are far from pretty in a more or less constructive way. It is much better to try and hit someone who has the same training you have than to go out and unleash the beast in a public place.I agree with you that our society is often too accepting of violence. That is a problem we urgently need to deal with. How, I’m not sure, unfortunately. I do think that introducing conflict-resolution curriculum into schools would help, but it doesn’t seem like it would be enough. I think the best option has to be teaching people how to defend themselves. The culture, if you could even call it that, surrounding martial arts is one permeated with wisdom. Most good martial artists realize that the best fight is the one that is avoided. This kind of wisdom would have to be passed down, along with the knowledge of how to throw a punch, block a kick, and submit your opponent, because otherwise the training would be incomplete and might just lead to more violence.These are just ideas, and could be totally wrong, but I thought they might help with the process of coming up with a solution.Your Friendly Church Security Guard


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