Leave for work, go for a walk or to the mall, attend church, go to your grade school, high school or college, or to a movie and you can be a victim of catastrophic violence in an instant. No longer can one go anywhere in this country and feel completely safe. Those days are long gone in today’s America, an epicenter of violence. And that’s a national tragedy of monumental proportions.
That shocking degree of violence described above illustrates what happens when the fabric of a society unravels; when the major foundations of this country begin to crumble, the violence escalates.
We’ve all heard the term, “You’ve lost it.” That sounds like this society that seems to have lost its sense of purpose and direction. This is not the country it once was, and that’s very troubling. It has changed radically to the point that America seems to be at war against itself. A sense of fear and deep mistrust of others are among the major motivating factors of the rampant, pervasive violence.
What constitutes a society, how does it function? Ideally, it’s a community of individuals who are united and bond together for the common good; those who share the same traditions, institutions, a common culture, and who interact with trust and respect. Now does that definition even begin to resemble the America in which we live? This society has become one in which the words common good and bonding together are no longer of great relevance.
Are the people of America strongly united? We have a society which is very divided with many different opposing factions, from political to social to racial, that agree on almost nothing. Bonding together, working for the common good? That’s true of those exemplary organizations that help people in need and distress. But where else do we see it?
Americans see millions of their jobs outsourced by corporations with the blessing of this Congress. They are forced to work long hours, to endure massive commutes; they see their wages stagnate while those at the top of the income spectrum receive some 90% of all new income generated. The middle class is slowly being dismantled and the people are afraid for their futures.
It’s imperative that his government and the business sector begin to work together to create millions of new jobs for American so that every American who is physically able to work is given that opportunity. When millions of people are out of work they can easily become angry and frustrated, and that desperation often leads them into a life of violence. This job creation can be done, it must be done.
We are living in a society in which the pressures upon people have become so intense that a rapidly increasing number of them can no longer cope and they are reacting in ways that adversely affect both themselves and their fellow Americans. This society is beginning to resemble a volcano that could erupt at any moment.
Americans own nearly 300 million firearms, mostly guns. The United States has 5% of the world’s population but owns 50% of the world’s guns. Based on these statistics we might rightly conclude that this society has an addiction and obsession with guns. Some might even go so far as to say that America is gun crazy.
America stands out from the rest of the 32 developed nations of the world because of its obsession with powerful weaponry; from the 9MM Glock semi-automatic pistol with ammo magazines holding up to 33 rounds to the AR15 assault rifle which can quickly fire up to 100 rounds; just what you need to hunt deer and foxes, or so I’ve heard.
Combine readily available firearms with a fearful, paranoid society, add in anger, frustration and some mentally challenged individuals, and you have a recipe for societal disasters, i.e., those that far too often take the form of mass shootings of innocents. Mass shootings, becoming almost commonplace in America, have become a plague on this society; and neither this government nor the people in this society are doing anything of real substance to find the ways to end them.
Our nation’s capital is inhabited by a large group of craven politicians who have been witnessing these horrific tragedies take place. They have seen the children of America being gunned down in school; and while they have the power to bring this situation under control they take no action.
They have no intention of enacting stronger laws to deal with this situation.
They no longer even attempt to hide the fact that they are attending to the interests of the gun industry and the NRA rather than those of the American people. So the next question is: what kind of political cowards are these who watch this carnage continue to take place in their country and refuse to try to put an end to it?
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) pulls no punches as he castigates those who refuse to deal with this grave problem. Recently he was quoted as saying, “Congress’ silence in the face of this rash of mass shootings has become complicity,” “We are essentially sending a message of quiet endorsement of these murders.” That’s a damning statement indeed.
United and bonding together? How about this? Conservative Republicans largely despise liberal or progressive Democrats and vice-versa; both sides refuse to work together to implement solutions to problems. Corporations want nothing to do with American workers. The wealthy in America just can’t get enough and could care less when they see their fellow Americans struggling to survive. Evangelicals make no secret of their hatred for gays. Control freaks in this society want to control women’s bodies and minds. Inner city gangs terrorize citizens who get caught in their crossfire. Hackers and identity thieves are a growing menace.
Evidence of this mounting societal violence can be readily seen in newspapers filled with stories of extreme violence, from the front to back, from top to bottom. Watch TV or listen to the radio and you will see and hear an endless litany of killings, assaults, violent confrontations between police and citizens, and every other kind of violence imaginable.
Could the absence of adherence to the principles of ethics and morals in this society be directly connected to this unrest and anger in America that fuels this violence? Yes, it can because those very important principles guide people in determining right from wrong. When those principles become meaningless to a significant portion of this society then that becomes a prime factor in the escalation of violence.
How in the world do we get out of this societal quagmire? First, gun safety laws, especially background checks, must be greatly strengthened; all major loopholes need to be closed, especially those that exist with open gun shows and gun dealers in cities. NRA and gun industry lobbyists must be banned from any contact with this government and, in particular, the Congress. Plug another loophole by extending background checks to the 40% of gun sales made through private sales between individuals.
One of the major impediments to bringing this situation under control is the fact that far too many Americans, whether they own guns or not, continue to fight against strengthening gun safety laws. These are people who are champions of 2nd Amendment rights and those who fear that the government will someday take away their guns. They, themselves, would have no trouble whatsoever in passing any kind of background check themselves. But they don’t seem to realize that when they oppose tighter restrictions on gun ownership they are directly responsible for allowing dangerous individuals who should never own guns to obtain them; and that’s why we have some of these atrocities.
Ban the sale of firearms to known domestic abusers and those who are known to be dealing with mental problems. Mental illness is a very important issue that must be given high priority and adequately funded by state and federal agencies. Next, the many states that now have concealed carry gun laws in effect must reverse them. It just doesn’t make sense to have people all over this country walking its streets with hidden guns on their person.
We’re seeing the emergence of a police state, illustrated by an increasing number of unjustifiable and excessive police actions against citizens, primarily African Americans. While police brutality is on the rise and must be brought under control, there are always two sides to most issues. Some of these strong-arm police tactics are the result of the overreaction of those who have to deal with an increasingly violent society; one that also needs to be brought under control.
To diminish these deadly police/citizen confrontations effective initiatives need to be put into effect at the federal, state and local levels to establish trust between law enforcement agencies and the people that they are responsible for protecting. We need much more stringent requirements for police recruits as well as close monitoring to assure adherence to rules of law enforcement. Those who overreact and can’t control their behavior have to be weeded out so they do not pose a danger to the community.
A civilized country is one that is cultured, educated, advanced, civil and humane. Can we in America call this a civilized nation when these horrendous crimes are being committed time and again? When this government and the people refuse to do everything in their power to stop this ongoing carnage?