Sun 23 Dec 2012
Yes, it is heartbreaking to read of the massacre of the 20 children and six teachers at the Sandy Hook School at Newtown, Connecticut, where Adam Lanza, 20, pumped bullet after bullet into the vulnerable bodies of the children and teachers. Political leaders and religious leaders, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Muslem alike and civic leaders have rightly expressed their grief and offered their counsel. Yes massacres take place elsewhere as well – Norway, Scotland, Australia, Switzerland etc – but 80 per cent of all massacres of children occur in the USA. Why? What are the major steps protect children and adults from the bullet?
There is a degree of fear, violence and war mongering in the psyche of far too many in the USA that must surely be deeply troubling for thoughtful people in the USA and worldwide. The USA military has sent in the troops, large or small numbers, into 44 countries around the world since 1945 in its efforts for world economic domination. The USA is the only country in the world to have employed the atomic bomb on two Japanese cities populated with innocent men, women and children. Millions have died, been maimed and traumatised through various US invasions by air, land and sea.
After each school massacre, the well-intentioned sentiments of successive Presidents, including President Barack Obomber, only offer a very short lived comfort to the families whose children died in a hail of bullets. In the USA, countless men, women and children suffer terribly under the primitive ideology of ownership of weapons due to a belief that it is a human right, under the constitution, to take another’s life if threatened. There are more than 2000 shootings and some 560 gun deaths in the USA every single week of every month, of every year. It is the only country with the right to bear arms even though these arms set citizens against citizens on daily basis.
There are more shootings and killings in a single week in the USA than in a whole year in Europe with a much bigger population. There were 15,241 murders, around 9000 through shootings, in the USA in 2009. The number of deaths by firearms in the UK in 2008 was 39. (It is not possible to find the US gun figures for 2010 or 2011). This is internal warfare on a national scale. This is a country living in fear and terror of its own citizens. This is more than a problem about too many guns or rifles. This is a serious pathology in the national psyche largely repressed in the name of ‘living the dream” that upon examination seems be “living the nightmare.”
I heard a US senator say on a US news channel that more than 50% of US homes have weapons. This is a country at war with itself. This is a country where people do not trust each other, day or night. This is a country which cares little for the lonely, the individual, the repressed and the unloved – a few of whom become the criminally insane.
Around 104,000 US citizens get shot every year.
There were 7,225,800 adults under correctional supervision for various crimes or suspected of crimes (probation, parole, jail, or prison) in 2009 – about 3 % of US residents. That’s more held than under Stalinist Russia.
In a culture of such obscene levels of violence, with one in every 100 citizens incarcerated in prison, a tiny number of psychologically damaged souls, who feel to be nobodies will take to the gun, the rifle, to give themselves a sense of power and control over the ‘other.’
This is an obsession with gratuitous violence at home and overseas. It will take a massive upheaval to change the social fabric of the US that much of the world dislikes and distrusts.
The USA needs to burn its outworn, outmoded, outdated Constitution. It has gone past its sell by date by more than 200 years. The 18th century US Constitution is a document utterly unfit for purpose for the 21st century. It is not a support for wisdom and compassion, for an enlightened life, but a major block to the welfare of the social cohesion and harmony of the USA. The USA needs a new Constitution.
There is a pornography of violence in far too much of the entertainment industry of the USA. On a weekly basis, Hollywood pumps out the glorification of violence in movie after movie – blockbusters, war movies, horror movies, gangland movies, killing sprees and so on. Taratino and numerous other directors with their producers and actors, spew out their cinematic violence generated to stimulate submissive, seat bound audiences. These directors generate fear and anger as a form of entertainment for the masses, rich, middle classes and poor alike, as well as the propaganda of “America, the Good” – just as the James Bond films function as crude British propaganda dressed up as entertainment for unquestioning citizens.
You will see a poster currently of Brad the Pitts holding an automatic weapon for his latest movie “Killing Them Softly”. It is a symbol of a major movie star portrayed as holding life and death over the irrelevant “other.” Hollywood currently holds back releasing their latest violent pornography until media attention on the massacre of the children in Newtown fades from public view.
The USA needs to end war making on other countries, end arms sales, treat violence on the screen with the same guidelines as pornography, develop a culture of kindness, love and support for the marginalised, young and old alike. Rebuild communities, give support to grass roote organsiations, learn to listen to other countries with low levels of violence. The USA needs to cancel all licenses for weapons so that everyone who owns a weapon must report to the police within a certain number of days to apply for a new licence with details exactly of what is in their home. Spot checks to be made. Any false statements means loss of license. All loopholes in the law must be closed to stop sales of weapons between individuals, at shows. Close the weapons shops. Pass a bill banning all kinds of rapid fire weapons. Initiate a mental health examination on all members of the family where there is a weapon.
With its 4.2 million members, the NRA (Neurotic Riflemans Association) advocates an armed guard for every school, and presumably every school bus, cinema, shopping mall, school outing, school camps, school hikes, adventure playgrounds, cinemas, sports centres and anywhere else that young and adults gather in the USA. This would make a nation under siege. It is already going quickly in that direction. The NRA has come up with an infantile statement “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” This Association advocates an armed security guard to protect children and adults in schools. Does the NRA really believe that a gunman packed with automatic weapons will not shoot first a guard before going onto massacre a group of kids? What happens if a guard gets filled with rage? What is going to stop a deranged teenager getting the guard’s weapon in a school to go on a killing spree? Who is going to protect the children from the guard? Who protected the Afghani men, women and children from the enraged US soldier?
Reality TV shows, violence on television, video games, such as Call of Duty (referred to by the Norwegian mass murder at a summer camp) and countless more war games, certain news coverage, rap and other kinds of music feed violence as entertainment. A society comes to live in a world of Darwinian winners and losers. There is the childish God Bless America mantra and the equal absurdity of the hubris of “US is the greatest country on Earth” while the USA leaders and corporate world heap their violence on people and environmental resources. The ideology of violence marginalises millions who form the underclass worldwide. Homes, streets and schools become places of fear for millions. Millions of women and children live in daily fear.
Nothing much will be done in the USA to change fundamentally the culture of violence of the USA. There will be perhaps a little tinkering in a new gun bill. President Obomber serves as the embodiment of Can’t Do. This President has compromise written into his DNA. He did not put a single gun control bill to Congress in more than four years in office.
Teenagers, the mentally ill, drug dealers and criminals have easy access to weapons including multi shot, and magazine fed weapons, rapid fire assault rifle as well as handguns. These have become weapons of mass destruction in the space of a few minutes. Owners of weapons have to ask themselves if they indirectly contribute to the devaluation of life. Have they bought into the Hollywood version of the Wild West where the gun means personal power rather than revealing a damaged psyche disconnected from life?
There are tens of millions of caring, loving people in the USA. It is time for them to demand change with the same strength of conviction that brought people in the Arab nations out on the streets to demand change. The people of the United States deserve better than the obscenity of this violence in their daily life. For the sake of the children, the caring people must act….