Since the beginning of my blog career, I have wanted to write the following piece. I have tossed it around in my brain over and over again but was not able to get a clear vision of how to write this. It is a bit philosophical, so many of you may fall off before you get to the end, but that’s life. Here goes!
Whenever I see crazy things happening in our world, I try to step back to observe it from a larger view. Let’s consider the latest crazy thing that has happened, the high school shooting in Florida. Of course, this is not the first, nor will it be the last, so get ready for the copycats who have some kind of ax to grind or who are just plain out-to-lunch. Let’s not look at the numbing details of this sad event but see it as if we are watching from outer space or maybe in the sterile environment of a movie theater. Here is what you would see: a large industrial country that has been taken over by mega-corporations, that have secured the vote of most elected officials with the constant flow of money into their wallets, and very decadent wealthy upper class, with a large portion of the remaining population surviving day-to-day. The environment is struggling due to the non-stop pollution of air, land and water. Much of the population is convinced that they can continue to abuse Mother Earth without consequences. Alcohol, nicotine, heroin, marijuana, opioids are just some of the drugs of choice people use to help them manage the everyday stresses of our society. Countries that made their wealth on the backs of underpaid immigrants have now decided that those immigrants are bad people and so should be sent back to their native countries. Governments have become unresponsive to the needs of the common man. Many young people raised in this chaotic environment feel unconnected, unchallenged and helpless. A large portion of people have made themselves feel more secure with the purchase of large arsenals of guns. Technology has outstripped human understanding of the effect all of this is having on human behavior, especially on youth!
Overall, we see a world in chaos, always on the brink of war, with many of its inhabitants malnourished and over populated, and suffering from the long-term effects of industrial chemicals in the food chain, air and water. What is staggering is the almost total denial of the environmental direction our world is taking! There are many who are decrying the consequences of our reckless action, but we have inappropriate names for them, like ‘tree huggers” or “greenie” while so many laugh at their scary predictions.
So, back to the problem of the killings. Outrageous actions are merely the expression of the frustrations that run through our society. These people who randomly take their own life or the lives of their fellow-man are generally lonely, disconnected, angry and most often have a deplorable sense of their own self-worth. So, viewing this reckless behavior from a distance lets you see these events as small aberrations in the complex flow of people, materials and ideas. This does not make them any less horrific, but allows one to analyze the events with less emotional response. What is it in our society that leads our acquaintances and neighbors to turn into these monsters capable of these terrible behaviors?
If one wishes to study a society, one must look at it in its entirety. I believe that sports provide a window to the state of our world and have come to the conclusion that football is one small example of how our society functions. Almost all the terminology of football is war-based. Words like offense and defense are words commonly used in war. Games are often referred to as wars between two teams. Blitz is taken from the German word blitzkrieg which is a high-speed force to break the opposition’s line. Oftentimes a pass is referred to as a bomb. Linemen are often said to be in the trenches, a reference to ground warfare. Kickoff teams are often called suicide squads. End around is a play designed to outflank the defense. a common term in land wars. The basic concept of lining two groups up against each other and then competing (fighting as in ice hockey) until one team is victorious, is nothing more than a microcosm of war.
How about the commercials we watch? Try to listen to TV commercials from a distance. Their primary focus is sex appeal. According to the advertisers you must wear the right clothes, eat the right food, use the best drugs, drive the fastest car or purchase any number of products to increase you self-worth. The latest word in advertising is “Brain Hacking” which is pretty scary stuff. We now have the ability to basically hack human brains with technology! Do the words BRAVE NEW WORLD or 1984 come to mind?
Last on my list of issues facing our culture is emerging telephone technology. In the future, I think we may see this as a turning point in history. Already sociologists are studying the immense effect that cell phones are having on our youth. Here are some of the effects we are already witnessing: increased tendonitis of the back, neck and hands, stress and fatigue, sleep loss, auto wrecks, anxiety, electromagnetic induced cancer, cyber bullying and a decreased sexual activity (you decide if this is bad).
Many of the shootings are perpetrated by adolescents. There’s no wonder, with the stress we place on them. In the past we cherished the ‘wonder years’ where we grew up without the constant drumbeat of society that engulfs our very thought. We played in the woods, watched Father Knows Best or enjoyed a board game. Now we play video games in which we witness and even take part in countless horrible deaths in a relatively short time or watch a TV show saturated with sex and violence Our youth witness inappropriate sexual situations long before their brains are ready for it. We encourage our youth to play organized sports that reward over-aggressiveness with praise and trophies.
I realize that I have been all over the map with this piece, but it is all demonstrably connected. Everything I have discussed and many that I have not are essential features of our society. WE ARE A HYPER-VIOLENT SOCIETY! From a distance we would see that guns are merely the tools of a violent society. Up close it is a violent, destructive tool that gives the owner the power over life and death. We are witnessing this every time we have to suffer through one of these terrible events. Even though I see our society as the root cause of our problems, I see the need to place controls over the types of guns, the number of guns and the mental state of who owns them! Just as we placed controls over who drives a car, we must change our laws to restrict the ownership of lethal weapons to the degree it is possible. We have a most difficult road ahead and some large corporations are going to fight us every step of the way. It is up to us, every one of us, to demand that we go in the right direction, where human life is placed above profit or power. We face a very uncertain future with respect to violence in our society. For our children and our grandchildren and their children, we must succeed!