A Culture Of Violence

I am seeing it everywhere….so many of my friends don’t feel safe after the events at Sandy Hook Elementary.  And right now, half-baked, reactionary measures that always emerge after a tragedy are cropping up, like “let’s arm teachers” or “let’s outlaw firearms”…because we all know that when tragedy strikes…the pendulum begins to swing.  We start trying to cling to whatever illusion of safety we believe we can create.

The recent unspeakable tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School shook me to my core.  As a mom, my heart immediately cried out for my own school-aged daughter.  I couldn’t wait to scoop her up from school and smother her in hugs and kisses.  And when Monday came, and it was time to return to school, somehow, I sent her off to school with hugs, and kisses, and a reminder to be safe…as I always do.  But I didn’t send her off in new-found fear.I am saddened…deeply saddened, by this horrific event, but I am not scared.  I’m not any more scared than I was before it happened.  To me, this was a reminder of something I am acutely aware of as a human being, an American, a military spouse, and a mother.  We, as a nation, have a big problem.

It has nothing to do with owning guns, or access to guns.  That’s just a symptom of the larger issue.  We are having a cultural crisis.  It isn’t a war on Christmas, or prayer, or a clash of religion.  What we’re dealing with, friends, is a culture that embraces and glorifies violence.

No matter where you live or what you arm yourself with, you can’t escape the fact that we are a culture that loves blowing shit up or shooting shit up.  We have whole virtual worlds that are dedicated to carrying out warfare, or even worse, recreating terrifying and catastrophic wars from our history and treating them like they’re were never real to begin with.

We have kids playing these games and they lack the perspective and ability to process the reality of these “games” for lack of a better word.  Oh my gosh, we’ve made it a game.  Life and death and war…a game…a game to win or beat and play while you’re munching on chips and shooting the breeze with friends.  Sit with that.

I’m not saying that everyone who plays these games are mass murderers in the making, but when things like that and images in our entertainment industry reinforce the fantasy violence and we don’t have an open dialogue about violence and it’s normalization in our society…we’ve got big problems.

And over the past 15 years, we’ve seen these mass casualty events.  Senseless acts of murder with victims on all sides of the coin.  Don’t get me wrong, these events are tragic, and the most incomprehensible thing about them is the magnitude of the event…the number of people affected all at once in one location.

But how about the one offs? Homicide via discharge of a firearm accounted for 11,101 deaths in 2011 per the CDC’s National Vital Statistics Report.  Eleven thousand people.  ELEVEN THOUSAND.  In 2009, 2,794 CHILDREN were killed by firearms alone according to the Children’s Defense Fund.

Violent crime is a statistic where we top the charts…and I ask “why?”  “Why us?”  “Why here?”

I encourage all of us to not suffer from tunnel vision and focus on just guns or only mental illness or school safety.  Let’s start looking at national dialogue on violence as a whole.

Where do we draw the line between reality and fiction?  What are we exposing our children to and are we taking the time to talk about what they’re seeing and doing?  Why aren’t we monitoring the every day tragedy of violent crime across our country?

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