About Violence

As I set out for my morning walk, I couldn’t help but notice that I was walking at a pace brisk enough to almost be called a jog. A jog is not for me, so I quickly shifted into a lower gear. My mind was playing tricks again. It couldn’t concentrate on my usual walk routine - it was too preoccupied with the Regina Brett column I read in the paper before I ventured out on a cool November morning. Ms. Brett wrote about the beating of a high school student after he and his girlfriend were walking home from school.  The violence of the attack was still on my mind.

The student was attacked by eight teens. They punched him in the face until it was shattered. They kicked him until he fell unconscious. The student will have permanent steel plates in his face. Part of his hearing and eyesight are lost. What did he do to deserve such a violent beating? He objected to some sexual comments directed to his girl friend.

As I walked along, I kept asking why do we as human beings inflict such violence on one another? Hardly a day goes by that some young student is not tormented by fellow students. One's racial, ethnic, religious background or sexual orientation frequently become fodder for verbal and severe physical attacks.

All too often, upbringing is blamed for the transgressions of juveniles. Certainly parents have a responsibility for instilling civility in their offspring but they need help. They need help from society. Society is the major player in any undertaking to topple  violence from its pedestal.

Society reveres violence. Watch a football game or a hockey game. Skill is important but very often is secondary to  aggressiveness as far as players are concerned. The more physical team is usually victorious and we applaud the player dedicated to taking out the quarterback. It takes a beating to do that! Oh yes, we also applaud the beaten up player who is hauled off the field on a stretcher. That’s the sporting thing to do.

Then we have boxing. We reward the most violent gladiators of the ring with the lofty title of Heavyweight Champion of The World plus give him a hefty paycheck. Now, not satisfied with the violence of fisticuffs we insist on making kick boxing a sport.

If  sports are not enough to feed our hunger for violence, we fall back on video games, movies and TV programs. Everywhere we turn, violence is before us  as a tool to get what we want. Even a certain ex-president claims that water boarding is acceptable. Torture which was the province of our enemies is now in our arsenal.

That brings me to the most violent activity in our culture. War! War! War!. We will be entering our tenth year of wars. Soldiers fighting these wars were children when the the first bomb was dropped in Afghanistan and Iraq. At this point I’m not convinced that there is an end in sight. War is violent. War breeds violence. War teaches violence. We should not be surprised that there is violence on our streets.

The sad part of all this is that society will not accept its role in instilling civility in our youth. It's not in our culture! It's not cost effective. It's the responsibility of parents ( who evidently are not part of society).

This kind of thinking has gotten my heart rate going much faster than I planned. I’m angry. Isn’t that what violence is all about - anger? Enough of this ranting and raving. Best to cut this walk short before I get violent and go after that squirrel trying to get ready for winter. There's something about him or her I don't like. Best to get home and listen to some relaxing music.

Violence makes good writing material. I’ll leave the solution for reducing it to the politicians. Have you heard any of the rhetoric coming out of their mouths lately - sounds violent to me. The message seems to be -  violence is bad , just learn to live with it - we have to get taxes lowered as we shrink the government.

As law and order fades out ( except for TV reruns), enter the militia. Damn walking! Maybe I should confine myself to the stationary bike for exercise. Over and out!

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