Friday, April 20, 2007

Another shooting?

Another day, another shooting. Looking at the BBC News I expect to see something other than more shots in the U.S.

At the Johnson space center, a gun takes his own life and one of his hostages. A white male in his 50s, who may have been an Employee there. A SWAT team and the police could not stop it.

It's time to reconsider our gun policy here, and reexamine the way we look at violence.

An argument by James Hillman in the book, A Terrible Love of War, posits that America is far removed from much strife in the world. Most of us in the U.S. only see war on television, which gives a distorted image through frames of Christianity, American exceptionalism/patriotism, and the cruel world beyond our borders.

Killings/Shootings/Bombings seen on television make the citizen numb to violence. IF you can't feel it, you can't identify with it. Propoganda is easily spread to link nationalism to militarism.

Hillman's observations certainly have errors. I'd like to think that U.S. citizens are not as impressionable as he observes, not simply clinging to unreality of war through a nationalist lens that makes violence benign.

But the devil lies in the details.

For me, an additional factor is the way U.S. Americans are alienated/isolated from within. The states that usually show more support for the war have a predominantly rural character. Individuals may not be coming in contact with other cultures, timely news, international perspective as often.

This may lead to an atmosphere where war images in the media are more influential, in a bad way. That's not to say that urban atmospheres are the most cosmopolitan sheerly by means of having a dense population. New York and Los Angeles are not the pinnacle of civilization.

But the most important thing is to break down barriers between people through dialogue. Groups who are separated tend to caricature each other, ranging from stupid/evil/apathetic to friendly, smart, exciting.

Seung-Hui Cho was isolated, he saw the rest of the world as decadent and trivial. Can we create a conversation with such isolated individuals before someone gets shot?

No comments: