School Shootings and a Culture of Violence

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I have been asked a number of times the last few days about my stance or for a statement on the recent school shooting. I often try to remain silent in these issues, but, well if you read my stuff you know I never stay quiet.


When I was younger my grandparents bought a farm. My father was and is a gun enthusiast, a member of the NRA and a supporter of ’2nd amendment rights’. A tradition was born in our family where all the men would go down the field and into a little area back into the woods to shoot guns at every family gathering. The men would gather to show off guns and shoot at cans or targets. I was never fond of loud booming noises, I never knew a lot about guns nor paid much mind to them. My knowledge came from learning about the weapons I was shooting. As the years went on I would go on to shoot countless weapons, mostly my M16 A2 service rifle and the M249 S.A.W. in the U.S.M.C. as well as many other tools of murder. Over the years I had received first hand education on how to handle and use many weapons with little interest in them.


Over the years I saw violence and death first hand. Over many occasions I saw both the actions as they occurred and the aftermath and the bodies of the victims. My first realization of the reality of the death and destruction of the military was at a grenade range. We go back behind a walled off area to throw grenades over a concrete wall and be rushed off back to sit in the bleachers and wait. We were boots, all green straight out of boot camp, Parris Island. I had thrown my grenade and begun to walk out and back to the bleachers with the other Marines being quite used to the sound of the grenades I was not expecting to be startled by one, but was. It was closer, louder. I shook as I heard it. It sounded as if it went off directly behind me. People were screaming and running. I could feel adrenaline rushing through my body.


I remember little from coming out of the range and reaching my seat on the bleachers, but I do remember the Corpsman standing there outside of the range crying. Here was the guy who was responsible for our medical and physical safety in tears. I remember clearly the quietness and fear sitting on the bleachers with the other Marines as the helicopter came down right above us, feeling the wind on my face. I remember looking around seeing the other Marines crying. It all became very real that moment.


A PFC was being brought out on a stretcher. I remember thinking his legs looked like twizlers. I remember the way the just wiggled around red and bloody. I remember his boots, legs and trousers all seeming to merge in a bloody mess. I remember the Sgt face down as they rolled him out, face down with his BDU’s cut off his body and little specks all up and down his back side, little red specks where the shrapnel entered his body. The PFC had thrown the grenade at the wall as opposed to over the wall. It landed behind with them. I think this is one of my clearest memories of such violence because I was in the field and was not able to drink myself silly to cope. I would drink a lot when I left there. Each act of violence after that was often d rounded out with whiskey, and most of the others were not accidental like this one. And this one still stands so clear in my mind. The whiskey helped me deal with it back then.


I could write a book on the guns, mangled bodies and violence I was part of or witness to. I don’t want to go down that route. What I do want to talk about is how this impacted my ethics in the long run. Violence became the crux of what led me to becoming an anarchist. The use of violence to structure society must be abolished. It is the future of the evolution of our species.


The current headlines are filled with news of another school shooting and it became political of course, as expected. The right has responded in fear defending guns and weapons. They want to arm the world. Send every grade schooler to school packing heat so that they can blow away the bad guys. Really the gun debate is not the debate or discussion that is needed to solve the problem. Like all other times it is a band aid or a surface issue.


The Real Issue Is Violence


Fear leads to violence. The cycle of violence is being perpetuated by fear. The state itself exists because of fear. Fear of the other and our desire to have institutionalized violence leads to our mass militarism and police state. Fear of poverty, fear of our neighbors, fear of someones uncut lawn. Violence is the underlying answer which our state is built upon. It is the pivotal hinge for which the state and capitalism hangs upon.


Countless centuries men have asserted their status and place in society through violence. Some have been labeled heroes and others villains in their use of violence. The same action of causing harm and taking lives is labeled good or evil based on the outcome and how they impact us. When children in Afghanistan are murdered by our military we praise and reward them. When it is our children in the U.S. Being murdered we call the perpetrator a terrorist. Both perpetrators have the same addiction to violence.


Our society has an addiction to violence. Our media is saturated by images of masculine men shooting up people. It is often police or heroic acts of glorified violence depicted. We praise those. We look at villainous acts of violence by ‘gangsters’ and depict them as cool or manly. We are groomed by our media to praise violence, it is glorified and our children are being raised to want to participate in this violence and be seen as manly or tough because they are violent or some force you do not want to ‘mess with’.


There is no Good and Evil


Good and evil are labels we place on an action that are dependent on the outcome and how they impact us. It is a judgment not a reason for an action. People do not kill because they are ‘evil’ but people are labeled evil because of the outcome of the killing.  As stated earlier the same act of murder is both heroic and villainous depending upon the impact it has on us. My Spouse often says “there is no good or evil only varying degrees of consciousness.” As people evolve to a higher functioning level of intellect and consciousness in the area of violence it is rejected. Evolution of society to a higher level of functioning eliminates violence. Many of my comrades have been frustrated in the past with my absolute rejection of the use of violence. There is always a better and more effective option to violence. Until we really start to challenge violence absolutely we will stay exactly where we are.


The closest thing I can see as an exception to opposition to violence is not even an exception. It is the fact that I will not condemn the use of violence by the violently oppressed to overthrow their oppressor. This is not to say that there was not a better solution, it is to say that I will not condemn them.


Until Violence is Confronted


Until we begin to confront violence we will not have an answer to school shootings. The state is like the parent who beats their children each night and tells the child not to use violence on others. How will this child know anything but violence if they have only been taught violence? As people evolve in consciousness we will continue to participate in this archaic practice. What we need to be doing is confronting the idea of the use of violence absolutely. We must raise a society that looks at the violence with shock and horror.

I am not a pro-gun type. I abhor weapons of all sorts. In reality we must not just look at guns and bombs critically but violence itself. Our desire for violence gives birth to swords, guns, atomic bombs and countless devices of murder, torture and destruction. The desire to slaughter, maim and destroy other sentient life is the problem. Even more so than the tools we have fashioned to so this task, for it is this desire that gives birth to our tools of death.


We may have a desire to use these tools of death for a specific person, target or reason, but as long as they exist others will desire to use them for another. As long as our society embraces violence we will not be able to move past this. We ask why specific children are murdered in a specific school while overlooking the fact that it is happening daily all over the world and we do not think twice about this. We accept that violence.


When I am asked what my stance is on this school shooting I have to point to the real and true problem we are facing. It is violence. Yes, a mental illness is to blame. But it is a mental illness our society as a whole suffers from. Most will reject violence and in return they will say ‘but’ and then give the exception to the rule where they believe it is called for. With so many ‘good’ people who hate violence having their justifications of violence in the case they see it as acceptable we find that violence is indeed not opposed but very much accepted. It is important to make the distinction here of my exception. It is not a time violence is justified, but simply a moment I will not condemn those who have chosen to use violence.


I do not accept violence as protection or defense for the vast amount of violence that occurs is done out of a sense of defense or protection. There is always a better solution. This does not say that I am specifically claiming to be a pacifist. For pacifism is often seen as passivity and I do not condone passivity either. I believe passivity is a grave evil. It is to say that protection do need to happen only they must evolve beyond the archaic use of violence. We must stop dumping our resources into more weapons, violence and the archaic way of structuring society and begin focusing those resources on alternatives to violence to begin to advance beyond violence.

Punk Johnny CashSchool Shootings and a Culture of Violence

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