Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Obsessed with Volume

One thing I love about American culture, is that we really don't pay attention to problems until they are considered BIG by the media. If one person gets bubonic plague, meeh....who cares? If a whole town comes down with it....OH MY GOSH, we are all going to die!

That is my take on the whole Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. I started to right a blog three months ago about the Aurora-Batman Rises shooting. I did some research on it and started to write an outline for it then came to the conclusion, why bother, there will be another mass killing in a month or two, I will just wait until then. (while writing this, there was another mass killing, when the New England resident set fire to his home and the started shooting the first responders)

Well, that time has arrived, so I might as well dust it off.

Guns don't kill people, people kill people....and people with semi- automatic rifles kill a lot MORE people.

Guns are everywhere, banning them now is like shooting the horse after the battle is over. It is better to have avoided the battle and use the horse to plow fields. Why not tighten up on ammunition sales? Or better yet, make it a requirement that anyone that buys ammunition be required to go through a mental health check every 6 months? They can be issued a little ammunition card that has to be renewed like a debit card to buy bullets. Just a thought, never going to happen.

But then again, If I want to kill a bunch of people, I have the option of fertilizer bombs, gasoline incineration, mowing pedestrians down with a car, the list is endless. If you are deranged enough to do the deed, you will probably find a way. The guns just make it easier.

The attached graph shows major mass killings over the past 40 years. They are increasing, but then again, so is the population. Interestingly enough, they are getting more deadly. Less wounded and more deaths. I suppose that means that the killers are just getting more efficient.

But this graph shows the spikes. The high body counts. I am certain that the number of 'individuals' that are murdered on a daily basis due to gun violence is probably much higher than the numbers on this graph. Again, it is our obsession with the big numbers that moves us toward discussing change.

Which is what really gets me upset. The problem is long standing and ongoing. Proper supervision and mental health screening is going to stop most of these murders, not gun control.

As a culture, we have been trained to have a threshold of acceptance. A degree to which we will accept things that should not happen.

Traffic - Our acceptance of risk of accident or injury and our willingness to spend three hours a day commuting when there is obviously a better way to get to work and go shopping, but it requires change to our routine and a loss of our personal freedom, which we just can't let go of, even if it is for our own good.

Burglary - We no longer consider the concept of no crime and that our homes are safe and secure. We now accept the reality that we are going to be burglarized or vandalized at some point. It is just a matter of how often and at what cost. Instead of increased law enforcement, we have home security and higher insurance premiums.

Truancy - Back in my day (yes I am old) any teenager walking the streets during the week would be picked up and hauled into the police station. School was a requirement or it was off to reform school for you kiddo. Go to any mall in a large city today and count the number of slackers that hang out at the food court smoking cigarettes.

Check Cashing Stores - If you don't have a social security number or want to lay low so that the cops or your ex-wife can't find you, where do you cash your check? There is a whole industry that has sprung up that will take care of that for you, for a fee. Now, someone with wage garnishment or who owes alimony can cash their check and not get caught, thank goodness.

As a society, we have come to accept this loss of structure, because we are not willing to devote the resources (taxes) to maintan it and instead have left it up to the individual to deal with on their own. Better buy a gun to protect your property, send you children to private school, buy a really 'safe' car and keep a minimum balance of $10,000 in your checking account.

With increased condensed populations comes increased mental health issues. The key to combating this is to promote more social interaction (in person) and get people out of their homes and into a community situation. Folks that fester in front of their Xbox or Playstation for years on end are not going to be well adjusted citizens.

We have been killing ourselves, in slow mass suicide, over the past decades with our lifestyles. With the processed foods that we eat, the pollution that we have created and the greenhouse gases that we have unleashed. But since the effects are only noticed in small numbers, we don't really see the danger.

If we advertised eating apples instead of 'Thick and Chuncky Spaghetti Sauce' from a can, if we promoted riding a bike or walking to work instead of commuting on freeways, if we encouraged everyone to learn to play a musical instrument or a speak a second language (so we would learn to interact with others), there just might be fewer mass shootings in the world.

However, this isn't what the media and its advertiser backers want us to believe. They want us to eat more snack cakes, buy more cars and sit at home and watch more television.

Hence, expect a lot more mass killings in the future. This isn't a gun problem, this is a societal problem. Think outside the box people. Stop trying to treat the symptoms. Cure the social disease!

This isn't an issue of numbers, it is an issue of behavior. In the two weeks after the Sandy Hook massacre, over 200 people were killed in the United States due to gun related deaths. This figure may be low, since it does not take into account suicides by gun, only homicides. This is not an issue of how we kill, but why we kill. Why anyone would take the life of another human being relates to frustration, mental illness, hatred, bigotry, envy, etc. All things that have to due with someones mental state.

If we take away ALL the guns, these individuals will still commit crime and murder, but on a less massive scale. So, are we going to draw the line and say that 200 murders a week is acceptable, or are we going to say that murder is unacceptable?

Timothy McVay killed 44 people in Oklahoma City because he was upset with the government. We haven't banned fertilizer yet to make bombs with. Any jealous lover can take an SUV and plow down their estranged spouse at a bus stop, killing all the bystanders as well. Are we going to make bus stops more secure or outlaw SUVs?

We need a system that will identify and aide the people who are going to commit these act before they do them. However, no one wants to discuss this because it takes a lot of resources and raises the specter of 'Big Brother' keeping tabs on us and infringes on our personal freedoms. No one is going to submit to a monthly mental health check to make sure that they have not gone nuts in the last 30 days and be required to turn in their knives, guns and car keys.

What we need to do is commit to creating a culture where it is more acceptable to discuss our problems, instead of solving them with violence. I find it hypocritical, that tasteful sexual content is outlawed on public media in the United States, but that the drawing of a weapon to solve a problem on television happens dozens of times each evening during primetime.

The mental state of this country is one of 'reaction' and is not 'pro-active'. Our mindset is to treat the symptom in hopes of cost savings and that hopefully the illness will eventually just go away.

Until we start to really address these issues, and stop talking about 'banning' things that cause violence and putting 'armed' police in schools, nothing is going to change. It will require a long term social change over a generation. Not a one time fix with the passage of a 'Gun Law'.

Segregation was wrong back in the 1950s. We could have said, give those uppity African Americans more money and hopefully they will settle down. But that would not have addressed the issue. We passed laws to make them all equal. Just passing the law didn't make them equal. We had to institute social change over generations to undo the hatred and bigotry that Jim Crow had fostered.

We will need to do something similar to address the epidemic of violence in this society. My fear is, that we will need to go through a lot more killing before people finally start to wake up and stop listening to what the media tells us to do, and we start telling the media what to do.