The answers to decreasing violence in our society are not simple. So many complicated, complex American systems and institutions need changing, and it will take us all working together to create and implement new ways to deal with violence within ourselves and between each other.
As long as human beings walk the earth, some violence will occur. Although we cannot eradicate all violence, we can change our laws and focus on the mental and emotional health of our people to reduce the amount of tragedy among us.
We are grounded in a violent history: when the first settlers came to America, they moved and slaughtered our native people, displaying the greed that lives on today. We take what we can get no matter that human beings or the earth suffer. In this circular pattern, violence begets anger, rage and despair which begets more violence.
Change begins with a shift in some of our beliefs about life and health. America teaches us that “healthy” often means “successful” which can sometimes harm people and the earth. Some win and some lose. Competition reigns and only recently has collaboration become a buzz word as a possibly better way of doing business, supporting agreement instead of the winner takes all. As long as there are people there will be conflict, and we should devote our attention to working through those conflicts nonviolently, if at all possible. Two of my hopes are: 1) reducing our own violence, verbally and physically, toward others and ourselves, and 2) supporting laws that minimize access to assault weapons.
Unfortunately, when states like Tennessee and Georgia allow guns in all sorts of public places, then accidents, suicides, impulsive acts and planned murders are more likely to occur. Also, as long as the large gap between the wealthy and the poor continues and as long as there is a death penalty, economic and institutional violence continue.
We live in a society that praises those who support both war and drone use, and those who support violence within America in more subtle but no less harmful ways, like through increasing poverty by our laws and practicing different types of justice for the poor and the rich, and based on the color of our skin.
One belief that needs to be reexamined and changed: that girls/women’s behavior prompts boys/men to violence. If a male isn’t able to succeed whether by income, sexual prowess, vocationally, or socially, females are often blamed and accused, then targeted with violence. How horrifying.
Even though an antidote to violence may be compassion and love, all the love in the world will not completely stop violence. Faith alone cannot stop violence. We are a country full of bullies, angry, fearful, anxious and depressed people. We need to deal with these underlying feelings that so many share. Only if we work together will we have any chance of creating the space for a positive change in our current beliefs and in our systems.