An Ill Society

At first there’s curiosity then there’s shock. The shock turns to sympathy and the sympathy to anger. Anger is a natural reaction to senselessness. I felt it when I read about the warehouse fire in Bangladesh that killed hundreds of workers, and I felt it when I read about the Connecticut shootings. But anger doesn’t solve anything, doesn’t repair what has already been done. Neither does sympathy, even if it is given, even if it is appreciated. After anger comes rationalization. I guess that’s what this is—a feeble attempt to understand an irrational act. How do you rationalize a guy going into an elementary school and shooting kids? He wanted to go out with a bang? Wanted to be remembered as some kind of monster? It’s not the first time children have been made targets, and it probably won’t be the last. To try and pinpoint why these things happen is like running around in circles, some things will never be fully understood.

Other incidences have more direct causes and effects. We rationalize bombings and genocide with war, burning buildings with bad building codes and corporate greed. It makes these tragedies more understandable—easier to pass off. Senseless aggression leaves behind too many unanswered questions and a need to blame something, anything. It’s video games, lack of gun control, music, movies etc.

It’s true that these things may promote violence but let’s face it. Humans have always been violent. Violence has been used in the name of good throughout history. Ancient Spartans used to cast away or enslave unfit, weak children, in order to promote a strong and healthy society. The Crusades justified the slaying of thousands in the name of God. The colonization of North America was cloaked in bloodshed so a more civilized society could rule. Violence is deeply embedded in human nature. Socrates philosophized that a man cannot commit a crime knowingly damning himself—every act is committed with some rationalization, a better good used to justify an end to that particular person’s welfare. For example: you rob someone because you need money, so you commit the crime to better your situation. So where does that leave us?

We deny our tie to violence and aim to pass it off on entertainment or lack of law. Are these things the root of our problem? Guns have been around for a very long time and at one point were more easily accessible than they are today. True they’re more accurate, with more bullets but these are not the causes of a rampage; they are merely tools. Violent entertainment can be dated back to Roman times (and probably before that). Are we too exposed to violence? We read about it in the news, hear it in lyrics, watch it on TV etc. Does this cause our reaction? Or are we too sheltered, the truth always being hidden by something else? Or maybe we’re just too opinionated and this causes people to go nuts—everyone has a “right” and “wrong” for everything. Don’t discipline your child; it’ll cause him to have emotional issues. Or if you don’t discipline him enough he’ll become a trouble maker. It’s all a fine line isn’t it?—a balance that is constantly being thwarted, with everyone seeking a perfect, solve-all answer.

My solve-all is lack of respect. As a society we have no respect for each other, our environment or life itself. We consume with little regret and seek only to satisfy ourselves. Our sense of community is a false one based on terms of success and not the inner workings of an individual. We covet a tool instead of harmony. It’s a sickness and like all sickness spreads; we’re wrapped up in it. But that’s just my opinion. I’m not saying that there isn’t good—there’s a lot of it.

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