Deeper Lessons from Ferguson: American Violence (Part 1)

Deeper Lessons from Ferguson: American Violence (Part 1)
Courtesy photo/Shutterstock FERGUSON, Mo. — Demonstrators at the site of destroyed QuikTrip react after Police Chief Thomas Jackson released the name of the officer that shot Michael Brown.

Courtesy photo/Shutterstock
FERGUSON, Mo. — Demonstrators at the site of destroyed QuikTrip react after Police Chief Thomas Jackson released the name of the officer that shot Michael Brown. 

Like many, I was quite interested in the recent events in Ferguson, Mo. Yet, an unarmed black man being shot by police is not too surprising or uncommon. It happens quite regularly, like clockwork school shootings. A USA Today report found about two black men are killed each week by white police officers, but the number is likely higher since these are self-reported “justifiable” homicides by participating police departments only.

A commonplace police killing was not what piqued my interest in the story, but that the Ferguson community protested. I was in France getting married when the story broke, and even French media traveled there to cover it. Ferguson did a great job of spotlighting core societal problems in America.

There is surely racism in police profiling and shooting of blacks in many places, and it is outrageous that police typically get a slap on the wrist, and are rarely punished like civilian murderers. However, a great many white people are killed by police too, such as unarmed homeless man James Boyd recently being shot in the back, on video.

According to a CNN report, Boyd is one of 28 people of various colors killed by Albuquerque, N. M., police in the past four years. Despite Albuquerque having one of the highest police homicide rates in the nation, not one officer has been charged for excessive force in 30 years. Nationwide, racism in police shootings is a secondary issue. We must dig deeper.

Broader lessons from Ferguson are of violence, poverty and justice. We must think harder, and ask bigger questions. For instance, why is our society so violent in general? Why are people baffled by school shootings and a little girl killing someone with an uzi?

It is intellectually lazy to answer that violent incidents are merely the result of “crazy” or “abnormal” individuals. Many environmental factors induce the common brutal behaviors we observe. Children experiencing domestic violence and alcohol as the government-approved drug of choice are factors. Also, we live in a society that loves bloody gore like Romans loved gladiators.

Strangely, many parents are more repulsed by their children seeing nudity or foul language than the flood of violence glorification in virtually all forms of media. Countless movies, television programs, and even some musicians incessantly bombard youth with images of simulated homicide and war, not to mention our toys. As a child, I owned many G.I. Joes and toy guns. Best-selling video games allow young people to participate in virtual murder for “fun.”

Can you see that war, killing, guns and military machines have become fun and sexy? Nearly every young person wants to have fun or be sexy.

Virtual bloodsports are only one side of our mind-bending Death Cult Inc. The American people also mentally bathe in real blood every day. Many of our sporting events are violent, like boxing, UFC mixed martial “arts,” and football where one side cheers when the other side is “hit hard,” even if it causes concussions. These sports represent our deeper sickness of cultural bloodlust.

The most problematic real bloodbath we collectively writhe in is our militaristic culture. Children are taught in elementary classes until college thousands of facts about wars, battles, and military leaders. However, students learn much less about peace heroes, what exactly led to wars and how we can avoid repeating mass slaughter. War is not only glorified in classes, but is taught to be necessary and good by politicians and media propagandists currently. Soldiers are portrayed as a prestigious and heroic social role for young people.

What is not communicated to young people is that soldiers are ordered to kill, and often innocent men, women and children die too. Additionally, many young people are clueless about hidden agendas for wars. Naively, we trust politicians are telling the truth, and that we are actually bombing for “freedom” and “democracy.”

Military recruiters fail to mention that once you kill, you may experience psychological trauma. These experiences can lead to various mental disturbances like PTSD and depression, which can lead to suicide. The New York Times reported that 350 veterans committed suicide in 2012 alone. Alarmingly, soldiers are trained to kill, many get psychological trauma, come home and many become police officers. Sounds perfectly safe.

According to ABC News, Americans own more guns and experience more gun deaths than any other advanced nation in the world. There are 88 guns per 100 people and 10 gun-related deaths per 100,000 people compared to Japan with .6 guns per 100 people and .06 gun-related deaths per 100,000.

As a society, we love guns and violence, so we need to stop acting surprised by school shootings or police homicides. Perhaps we need to find new love?

Categories: Legacy Archive
Tags: Ferguson