Make Art, Not War

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A moment of silence for the victims of this tragic shooting, and then a healthy conversation about violence in our society

In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, we must admit that we have a much bigger problem than just gun control in this country. We cannot pretend to be surprised by this kind of thing anymore. It happens every couple of months, and the shock and horror of it have become a sort of numb that I feel about the whole everything. The whole news broadcast, as it is dealt out to me, leaves me feeling helpless and numb. In fact, I took it upon myself to throw out my TV years ago- for my own mental health- and to avoid being sucked into watching the news elsewhere (since it is broadcast in shops and bars, and in the headlines of every newspaper on every street corner). Still, it seeps in and I hear about this shooting from my friends and it makes me cry. Me too, Mr. Obama, I cried when I heard the news too.

But with all the due callousness of a long time peace advocate- what else do you expect? This is what happens in a gun-crazed and violent society, like the one we live in today. This is what you get when the leader of our nation deems himself able to assassinate whomever he wants, wherever he wants, for his own “secret reasons” and never be held accountable. It is a classic case of “Do as I say, don’t do as I do” and if you don’t like to think so- here is another example:

If we are to believe that this gunman is solely responsible for this atrocity, and not just a product of the society that he comes from, then let’s call him a terrorist. And let’s say this schoolhouse was in Northern Pakistan instead of Northern America.

See the difference?

The President gets information that a dangerous terrorist is in a schoolhouse in Pakistan, and what does he do? He orders the strike to have him killed and a Hellfire missile is sent to bomb the entire building. Instead of 27 dead, every person in or near the schoolhouse would be under a pile of rubble and there would be no heroes, no survivors- not even a death toll. It is the official practice of our government NOT to count the bodies of the civilian dead, so that they can wave this strike in our faces later and say
“See? We got our man! One terrorist dead. Now give us another billion dollars.”

Now do you see how big the problem really is? It’s not just about guns. It is the acceptability, and the normality of murder. Murder by any other name, is still murder. And we see it glorified on the news every single day. And what we don’t hear about, mass murder on a scale that any would-be serial killer could envy, is being carried out by our government in our name and with our tax dollars. Every. Single. Day.

People want to talk about video games, and I say TALK. But really, it is a much deeper love of violence than that. Have you ever heard the term "war-porn"? There are websites set up with official U.S. government footage of drone assassinations, where users can comment and chat with each other while dark figures are blown up on the screen.
Sound a little fucked up to you? How about throwing the term “porn” in there to remind us that violence against women goes hand-in-hand with this kind of war-loving mentality. That rape is so common in our military that a female solider is more like to get attacked by her own fellow soldiers, then be wounded in combat.

But military service isn’t safe for women? Video games promote violence? These things have nothing to do with one crazy person gunning down a bunch of school kids. Unless of course you look at it as a whole, and see these things as the mere surfacing of the affects of war and violence on our collective psyche.

American culture is a many faceted and beautiful thing. No one thing can be considered the cause of the state of our society, but sometimes it takes only one story for the whole of the conversation to change. Take what happened to Trayvon Martin, another act of gun violence, where what is an everyday reality for black youth in this country came to the forefront of our national attention. It is up to us to make sure these children-all of the innocent children- did not die in vain. Let us take the time to see things clearly for what they are. The man who did this needed help, help he did not receive, and we all pay the price. We must teach our children to love and respect themselves and each other- before they reach for a gun. Until that day, when I see the news idly prattling on in the background somewhere- I will continue to look away.

And I will continue to advocate for a peaceful resolution to the so-called War on Terror (as it as produced more terror in eleven years for “them” and for “us” then the attacks on 9/11 could ever justify) until it is over, and not one more bomb is dropped. My heart goes out to the mothers and fathers of those children. I believe killing children is the worst war crime, because children do not hate. We teach them that by how we behave. And tt is time we change the lesson. 

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