Thursday, January 10, 2013

Merely the Tip of the Iceberg, a Drop in the Ocean

Most of the day yesterday the current issue about gun control clouded my mind. I thought of writing about it -- especially since what I had found out from browsing the Web somewhat disturbed me.

"At six per 100, the rate of violent deaths is higher in the U.S. than in any other country in the world, and the majority of those deaths involve firearms. The rest of the world is pretty far behind, too. We have three times as many violent deaths than the next most violent country, Finland. Researchers linked this trend with the US having the lowest life expectancy -- 75.6 years for men and 80.7 years for women -- out of 17 wealthy countries surveyed," according to Adam Clark Estes of Reuters in an article from the January 9, 2013 issue of The Atlantic Wire.

The energies ensuing from my thoughts must have been particularly strong.  As soon as I walked into the house of a friend who had invited me to dinner, I was immediately engaged  by my friend's husband in a conversation about guns. He lamented the absence of firing ranges in Hilo and talked about firearms that could fit in the palm of a woman's hand. 

Guns really give me the creeps.  I've never owned one nor even touched one. But the thought of practice shooting somewhat intrigued and excited me. I started having dissonance. I abhor violence in all its forms. Yet I was thrilled at the prospect of firing a gun.

Later I thought about the movies, sensationalized media news, toys, games, etc that surround us. We buy our children toy guns. We have video games on shooting. We start our day looking at gory images of crime scenes. And we cap the day watching a TV program where protagonists and antagonists shoot at each other and, often times, include unwitting victims we  tend to nonchalantly label as "collateral damage." These all seep into our subconscious until we no longer blink or are horrified by the taking of lives.

We might have progressed in many ways. We have developed new technologies. We have the ability to explore space.  We have had many discoveries.

Yet and paradoxically we have hardly evolved in the way we value life. We are as barbaric today as the proverbial caveman who clubbed a woman on the head before dragging her by the hair to his cave.

 The National Rifle Association (NRA), though often strident,  is at least partially correct. We are the problem. Gun-related  murders in schools, such as those that recently happened in Newtown, Connecticut  or the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, are merely symptomatic of something bigger in ourselves that, at the very least, should provoke our thoughts.

What kind of society have we created? What kind of beings have we become?

Increased regulations in accessing and using firearms may be a bitter pill we need to swallow in the face of an  increasing population and fast-changing societal values. But such measures, whether legislated or not,  address merely the tip of the iceberg and perhaps are but seemingly insignificant drops in the ocean of our so-called humanity.

Illustration by Bret Pelizzari

- Ariel Murphy

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