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Vicious Cycle: How Long Till Next Time?

July 23, 2012

This piece dates back to January, 2011. I drew it in response to the Tucson shooting
in which six people were killed, and former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords was severely wounded.

In the original post, I explained that it represents an all-too-familiar cycle in the United States: a mass shooting; blood; death; outrage; calls for change; a gradual loss of interest as the media moves on; a return to complacency until the next horrific shooting– and the cycle repeats itself.

I decided to post it again in the wake of the recent Aurora shooting.
bullets lead to death to outrage to lost interest to a lull to the next shooting

I have no wish to exploit the Aurora tragedy. It sickens me just like it sickens anyone with a semblance of human feeling. But we have to acknowledge this terrible cycle if we ever hope to break it.

I know it’s not exclusively an American phenomenon, but we seem to give the world most of these shootings. True, America is awash in guns, and true, there would be no shootings without guns. But I think there’s much more at work here.

American culture is filled with casual violence and brutality: movies, television shows, video games, songs and music videos filled with obscenities and hateful lyrics; “comedy” that relies on obscene language and attacking those we disagree with; abortion defended even to the brink of infanticide; young kids driven to suicide by bullying; cursing as part
of the “new normal”; hateful comments on blogs and forums; vicious political attack ads– the list goes on and on.

All defended in the name of “freedom,” of course, and all doing violence to the human spirit.

How long till the next shooting?

We have to break the cycle.

We have to do it by personally rejecting the many forms of violence that surround us.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

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What do you think? Were you surprised to hear about the latest shooting? Are we really free if we choose behaviors that enslave us to violence? Hope you’ll leave a comment.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. July 23, 2012 4:18 PM

    On the one hand, Canada is said to have just as many guns but not nearly the number of accidental shootings.

    On the other hand, a Canadian study suggested that people who own guns are 3 times more likely to die from homicide. Further, a Harvard study showed that in states where guns are more prevalent, children were 16 times more likely to die from an accidental firearm shooting.

    http://www.vpc.org/press/0202study.htm

    The logic to me is this: let’s say you own a gun. What are the chances of the following scenarios:

    1. A burglar breaks into your house, and you just happen to be home, in exactly the right place, and right frame of mind to shoot the burglar.

    2. The gun accidentally goes off and hurts or kills you or your child.

    I’ve worked 2 jobs now with people who carry guns. The second scenario (in the case of my coworker, no one was harmed) where the gun goes off by accident, was far far more likely.

    Like

    • July 24, 2012 9:46 AM

      You give us all much to think about, Amelie, thank you.

      I sincerely appreciate your time, energy, and kind support!

      Like

  2. July 23, 2012 4:27 PM

    It would seem, Mark, that man has to hit his head many times before he realises that it hurts!

    I have watched, over my lifetime, the effects of many harmful activities in which man dabbles only to find himself harmed by his attempts at what he considers to be ‘freedom’… Freedom to do his body harm by eating rubbish; freedom of his words; freedom of his sexual desires; freedom of his desires in all fashions only to ‘eventually’ (for some) realise the folly of his actions.

    It saddens me and yet I know that man is a child in a fantasy world with the inability (at times) to function as an adult. What is the answer? I think it is the same answer that applies to most of what man does… Eventually, and with great harm to many in the meantime, clear sight brings change… But, don’t hold your breath…

    Like

    • July 24, 2012 10:13 AM

      Ah, yes: the need to bang one’s head many, many times before we can get our own attention… no wonder I always have a headache! : )

      Well said, Carolyn. A false sense of freedom leads to excess. The lucky ones survive long enough to embrace the wisdom of restraint and moderation. But they often leave a lot of damage in their wake, harming other people, leading others astray. That’s the real tragedy, I think.

      Many thanks for your very thoughtful comment and ongoing support!

      Like

  3. July 23, 2012 5:47 PM

    I wasn’t surprised to learn of this shooting. But I think that it’s impossible to know why it happened. If the current news is anything to go by the guy they arrested sounds like his brain is gone. That’s not defending him or what he did, just to say that with a brain like that, maybe externals weren’t the reason.

    Like

    • July 24, 2012 10:44 AM

      Thanks, Val. Mental illness is always a factor in these shootings. And I suppose it’s possible that some of the shooters might have had some kind of genetic predisposition that made a violent outburst inevitable.

      That said, so often a pronounced alienation seems to be present, too. The shooters were teased, mocked, bullied, ostracized– all subtle forms of violence. I worry that our culture encourages such behavior. Only the strong and the beautiful have value. The weak are despised, disposable. Our culture sends messages that breed alienation, and then enables the vengeful fantasies that go with it. Was the mental illness always there? Perhaps. Do we help it reach the tipping point? I fear we do.

      And on that happy note: many thanks for your comment and support.

      Like

  4. July 23, 2012 10:06 PM

    So true Mark. You are so right. Our culture is filled with casual violence. I wish the horribly violent video games could be outlawed. And the movies too.

    Like

    • July 24, 2012 4:42 PM

      Hi Linda, thanks. I share your wish, but I know banning vice never works. A healthy society has to restrict vice, but it’s not easy. Vice = money, and those who peddle vice work hard to undermine any commonsense restrictions.

      I do wish politicians and public role models would show some courage and condemn violence in its many forms. But I guess that’s a dream because those same people are so often invested in violence, whether it be sports, entertainment, or political campaigns. How can they condemn what helps sustain them?

      But we all control our personal choices. If enough people refuse to support violence with their money and their votes, things would start to change. Long haul, but the worthwhile battles are never easy.

      Your support means a lot– thanks!! : )

      Like

  5. July 27, 2012 9:31 PM

    Much to the outrage and concern of the Canadian police chiefs, the Canadian federal gov’t scrapped the gun registry database.

    This is not helpful to the police nor to elevate the consciousness of ordinary folks who choose to buy guns.

    Handguns, and various other guns are illegal for possession in Canada. Hunting of game (deer, etc.) requires a license, etc.

    A lot of Canadians are actually bewildered by the near obsession of organizations like the National Rifle (or whatever) Assoc. that lobby heavily for freedom to take arms, etc.

    Canada does not have an equivalent national lobby organization at all. But then we don’t have 2nd amendment equivalent in our Canadian constitution.

    Expression of owning guns and anything illegal that evolves from that, etc. is in the Canadian Criminal Code. (I was a law librarian for one of the provincial courts… and have worked for organizations which included ex-police officers we had on staff.)

    In fact in the courthouse where I worked, there is a bullet hole in one of the courtroom benches…..an irate litigant slipped into the courthouse to shoot a judge, lawyer. I believe a lawyer was hurt.

    (And since you do illustrate for lawyers’ journal, thought this might have non-humorous relevance.)

    Like

    • July 30, 2012 9:24 AM

      Thank you very much for your comment, Jean, and for taking the time to present the Canadian perspective– much appreciated.

      You’re right: the United States Constitution’s Second Amendment– guaranteeing the right to bear arms– makes it very difficult to achieve any kind of consensus on gun control. The original framers of the Constitution could not have anticipated the sheer number of guns that exist in the U.S. today, nor the firepower of modern assault rifles and armor-piercing shells. The fact that so many “bad guys” have guns, makes it very difficult– politically– to argue that ordinary citizens should not have access to guns to defend themselves. It’s a very painful and frustrating dilemma.

      Thanks again for your thoughtful feedback and support!

      Like

  6. August 9, 2012 8:17 PM

    American culture is filled with casual violence and brutality.

    I absolutely agree with your statement, also with this one: All defended in the name of “freedom,” of course, and all doing violence to the human spirit.

    My condolence to the victims and their families…

    Like

    • August 10, 2012 6:30 PM

      Freedom that enslaves and makes us prisoners is not true freedom. I hope we can all learn that lesson someday.

      Many thanks for your support, Inge.

      Like

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