Let’s Decrease Violence in our Society

posted on: September 24, 2014

Ferguson police in military gear

We live in a violent society. This summer we witnessed the murder of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer as well as domestic violence and child abuse perpetrated by our athletic heroes.  A student killed 7 and wounded 14 at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Military machines from our wars now patrol our neighborhoods. People are shot by strangers in movie theaters, shopping malls, and restaurants.  The Crips and Bloods continue a war started in the 1970’s; and Chicago, witnessing 208 incidents of gun violence in 28 days this summer, is renamed Chiraq.  We are besieged by wars as we debate distant embargoes, boycotts, drone missions, boots on the ground in both the Middle East and East Europe.  The domestic and international violence covered by our media intersect and mesh in anguished faces and voices and in increased fear in all our lives.

Having been the wife of a professional football player and the mother of a Division I college player, I know all too well the training required to provoke instant explosion at the snap of a ball.  We witness and cheer as one behemoth explodes with colossal strength and honed power to crash into another equally fierce opponent propelling possible concussion and permanent brain damage for our entertainment.  Our TV dramas dwell on violence—cops and criminals, often indistinguishable in lack of morality, brutality, and evil– are used to excite the plot. We sit transfixed to watch Walter White of Breaking Bad turn from a meek, impotent chemistry teacher to a sociopathic drug dealer and murderer.

We were relieved when we learned that humans did not increase chimps’ violence; rather we share the same aggressiveness with our close relatives.

Sexualized violence against woman by men who view female bodies and genitalia as their own territory to colonize and exploit is increasing. Rapists have terrorized college campuses and the cities that surround them for decades. Meanwhile, male students behave as if entitled to women’s bodies by any means—drugs, rape, threats—necessary.

By now we’re all aware of the mistreatment of blacks, especially black men in discriminatory arrests, police brutality, incarceration, and unemployment.  Slavery continues to haunt in black on black violence, and the terror whites maintain that revenge for our immoral history will finally be claimed. Sadly, the election of our first black president has heightened racism and stalemated our government.

Accompanying this violence is our unrestricted capitalism and the primacy of our lust for material goods and the accompanying status. It’s as though, in a perversion of the Protestant ethic, we think we are God’s chosen if we’re wealthy when, –research has shown—we’ve traded empathy and compassion for cars, houses, luxury designer purses that cost more than an average six month wage. As our economic inequality has widened, the violence in our society has increased.  Hard to know which one is causal or if they are concomitant variables.  We no longer seem a nation of united states but blue and red armies quarreling like spoiled toddlers for our way.

 

We are about to escalate the war in the Middle East. This war in various guises has continued on in one version or another for a quarter of a century. Has anything gotten better?  Have we gained something other than escalating fear of terrorism, disgusting images of violence, and surveillance and invasion of privacy in an attempt to resolve this conflict?

We stomp the brush fires of violence at each flare up—mass murder in schools, shooting of unarmed teenagers, rape of women, domestic violence, murder in movie theaters, wars. And act as if each has a discrete symptom and cause. Yes, rage blazes in various ways. We address it helplessly and desperately by a media flurry, sometimes a trial that never considers the larger issues, or firing abusers from lucrative jobs. We beat our breasts in alarm and then go on our way as usual. But we aren’t preventing the fires that threaten to burn more thoroughly and vastly. We need to do something about our invading and pervasive aggression because violence escalates and spreads. We are all affected by it even when we turn away.  A paradigm change is necessary.

It’s time to take a look at ourselves.

All of us.

We are not only an aggressive species. We are also filled with compassion and love for each other. It is, in fact, our empathy and compassion that enabled Homo sapiens to survive and flourish.

Time to focus on our love.

Time to share our wealth, jobs, housing, education, medical care. Yes that means more taxes, especially for the rich. We could restore Kennedy’s tax reduction of 1964 which raised taxes and increased income, consumption and capital investment.

Time to employ our people to improve educations, roads, parks, housing, health care and halt the unbridled narcissistic grab for material goods.

This is a spiritual, life style change.

A movement is starting. In the New York Times this Sunday there was a full page that announced SURRENDER TO PEACE put out by Yoko Ono. John Haywood presented a 10 point program to elect a congress that would enact common sense reforms. Alicia Keys has started a movement—We Are Here—to gather an army of peacemakers and socially conscious people to make the world a better place for all.

These are celebrities wanting to make a difference, putting their talents, money, and fame toward making positive changes. But what can we, the individual person do?  For me, as a writer, my concerns about violence, inequality, and abuse of women are evident in the subjects of my non fiction and the themes and plots of my novels.  This is true for many writers as so many of us write dystopian novels warning of bleak futures, or issues of climate change, or totalitarian regimes.   Non fiction authors are calling attention to issues and providing suggestions for solutions.  Piketty’s Capital is an international Bestseller, and Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, detailing the mass incarceration of black people,  has been a best seller for over a year.

Each of us must look inside to ferret out our own violence and complicity. How’s your road rage?  How’s your impatience at someone slowly driving in a structure looking for parking?  Do we remember there but for the grace of God (or good luck) go I when we see a homeless person? Do we treat the members of both genders with respect?  What about people of different colors and ethnicity?   We need to be aware of the humanity of each of us as we drive our cars, walk our streets, and run our errands.

We can study the candidates and their positions and make a decision based on what we think will be best for our citizens rather than our own self-interest and VOTE!  Check out Haywood’s list of reforms for our next Congress. (email him at mfandj@gmail.com to receive his list.) You might not believe in all of them, but they are important and reasonable issues for our government to consider and for us to ponder as we judge our choices. We need to join together to create positive social change and decrease the violence and increasing militarization that surrounds us. We can support a charity, a group effort, or a cause that will make a change we believe in. Check out the ones Alicia Keyes has mentioned.

Let us know of others.

What are your ideas?

What are you doing to help? I want to know how you make things better in your day-to-day lives. Let’s spread random acts of kindness.

We can make changes together.

Let’s start.

 

 

7 thoughts on “Let’s Decrease Violence in our Society

  1. cat mahoney says:

    Thank you for the email, congrats on the new blog. Yes society needs to awake to the red flags of our existence, and not talk but act to bring light to the darkness. Balance the yin and yang of the universe. Suggestion human connection, a human chain of doing good deals and not take credit, let the universe repay the giver back. Collect donations and give straight to caring organizations, share the resources.

    Compliment someone, smile for no reason, and be kind to the rude, do not let pride stand in the way, less road rage, fights and arguments. For the past is gone, future is not here and we live in the moment. 1440 minutes a day, ask what did I do to give Hope to someone? I helped volunteer and now employed as a peer advocate to mentally disabled, traumized people, who deserved to be part of society, do not judge and as hard it is some days love thy neighbor. Human connections, we are all living on one planet, a house, should unite as a family and help one another. Thank you Ann. May your mission be a success. Need more advocates like you.

    • admin says:

      These are wonderful ideas. Yes we change our own corner of the world, our own garden and the ripples will spread. Congratulations to you for your work as a peer advocate for the mentally disabled, and traumatized. It has always moved me very much what we humans can endure and continue to give to others.

  2. This is an exquisitely written, passionate, thought-provoking article. You’ve packed an enormous number of ideas in a very concise space.

    And I couldn’t agree with you more, violence is taking over our country and the world from the shooting and indiscriminate arrest of black men to beheadings by terrorists to the ever-growing use of war as an apparent answer to all questions.

    Is our only response to aggression, more aggression? What happened to dialog, to attempts to reach out to our brothers and sisters be they in red states or blue states, in Israel or Gaza, in Ukraine or Russia?

    As a psychologist, I’m more accustomed to working with people on an individual basis, rather than thinking more globally. But much of what I practice in my office can be extrapolated to the larger world. People need to listen to one another, really listen. People need to know that when they feel angry, there is often sadness and fear underneath. People need to know that there is no shame in vulnerability and that needing other people is what makes us most human.

    I applaud your effort and hope both conversation and action follows.

  3. Ann Pearlman says:

    Linda,
    Thank you so much for your wonderful comments. Most of us as individuals aren’t going to be able to make change on a global basis but through our connections as we move around our daily lives. Complimenting each other. Being polite and respectful to the people we meet. As you said, listening.

    Yes, needing each other is what makes us human.

    One of the things I do is carry a huge box of protein bars and when I see people asking for food or money, often on the ramps to the highways, hand them several. I hope that helps a little.

    Any other ideas?

    Ann

  4. Margie Mounier says:

    The basic question is as simple as it is eternal: is Man born good or bad? My husband and I used to argue (I am now widowed) endlessly, with him arguing for the bad and the need to educate our children to “meet the challenge” of an unforgiving world, and me arguing for the good that somehow gets led astray. All the comments I’ve read so far do however abound in what to me remains indeed the only “solution,” namely doing whatever we can right, left and center in our immediate surroundings. I strongly believe that environment, on a scale from totally poverty-stricken to obscenely rich, can definitely be a factor that leads astray (at either end!). As can be the lack of nurture. And on and on. Plato pleaded for philosophers to serve as our governors: perhaps that would help, but now that so much prestige and so many perks are involved, that too looks to be wishful thinking. So now, at 76, I’m finding it something of a challenge (understatement!) to pass on an optimistic outlook to my grandchildren. My only suggestion is that we—parents, schools, coaches—encourage the positive in every single young person we deal with. And, definitely, that we include Ethics in the curriculum, from primary school on upwards!

  5. Ann Pearlman says:

    Margie,

    Thank you so much for your comment. It’s hard to raise children to be moral when so much of our media and our politicians and our companies do so much that is “immoral.” that’s part of the problem. As you said the perks are so high that even philosophers might become corrupted.

    Readers, what do you think. Can we do anything more than take care of our own garden? And donate $ to causes?

  6. Rachel says:

    Thanku dear Renaissance Woman! your jam-packed blog indeed reflects in-depth, urgent thinking and I urge you to go public with it INTERNATIONALL(eg,Internatl Herald Tribune)+reaching out to teachers/educators on every level!

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