While watching breaking news from Arizona, my wife made the comment, “It trickles down.” Violence, that is. I believe she is correct. What happened in Arizona was a tragedy, and it’s good to discuss it and look for ways to prevent like events. In my view, the reduction of inflammatory rhetoric and the strengthening of rules regarding database input and searches for prospective gun buyers can help. But guns and fear-based hatred aren’t going away. They are now part of the fabric of the Nation, and, as fear overwhelms us, we see the growth in possession of personal firearms and violent speech. We have to look higher up the ladder for lasting remedies.
Our society is fractured, frightened and drenched in violence. The United States has been engaged in some form of armed conflict for nearly all of its 200+ year history. When something doesn’t go our way, or when our desire for control is at odds with another country’s (or race’s) plans, we pick up the club. Diplomacy is too often a stall while we prepare our true response, armed conflict. In order to pay for these adventures we are increasingly removing our citizen’s safety net. A society that is under extreme pressure, be it financial, medical or even for that which is required for base sustenance, is a society wrapped in fear. Add to that the fear generated by a “war on terror” and you have a lethal cocktail of stress. Those many Americans who lived in quiet desperation are now facing utter desperation. And our “Troops”, whom we profess to love and honor, are being damaged for life. That’s not hyperbole. I receive my medical care via the VA and speak with many vets on a weekly basis. Fifty years after the conflict our Vietnam combat vets still suffer. Broken dreams, broken relationships, alcohol and drug problems, homelessness, and more. Their problem is not how they were received when they came home – their problem is war. They will be followed by a new wave of damaged young men and women.
Few in power care about these problems, and the citizenry increasingly understands this. It is class warfare, and the ruling class is destroying those under them. Money has replaced the noble, good and generous in too many of our lives.
All that happens near the bottom rungs of the ladder that helps in any way is valiant. Every small act of resistance helps. But until the wars end we have no chance for true civility and peaceful, happy lives. War never builds hope and kindness. Look at what we call “nation building.” Hundreds of thousands dead in Iraq. Millions of Iraq’s citizens displaced. A functioning infrastructure smashed and replaced with what? The largest embassy ever constructed? We faced a couple of hundred criminals calling themselves Al Qaida and we find it necessary to beat Afghanistan to a pulp? Over 700 bases strewn across the globe. Our troops in countries for over 60 years after conflicts have ended. This madness is killing our society.
We cannot and will not find harmony and peace in our country until the wars and those who profit from them are finished. We can work at the problems that beset us, and nibble at the edges of things, and lament the horror in Arizona but we must change the war mentality in order to achieve true peace here at home.
I have a simple, personal answer. I will not vote for anyone who has voted for armed conflict, or has voted for or stated they will vote for increased or renewed funding for existing armed conflict. If that means I have to write in every god damned candidate on my ballot I will do so.