I Googled “List of school shootings in the U.S.” The Wikipedia article’s chronology goes by decade, starting with the 1760s. There is one entry there. The next listing is 9 decades later. Two items there. The narration continues to list shootings for every decade. When we get to this millennium, the bullet points are replaced by a chart. From 2000 – 2010, there are 46 different shooting events chronicled. From 2010 – 2014 (n.b. Not even half a decade!) there are 65, including yesterday’s. And I may have lost count of one while scrolling down through the list.
Obviously, this storm is escalating. This is a flood. Our country is awash in violence being perpetrated against school children. School children! What can that be about? What madness has overtaken our culture that young people at their studies have become targets? I’m pretty sure it’s not so much about the targets as it is about target practice.
Our culture has target practice deeply embedded in its psyche and readily available in its entertainment, military and politics. Angry? Take aim. Proud? Take aim. Patriotic? Take aim. Need security? Take aim. Impoverished? Needy? Insulted? Invisible? Defiant? Miffed? Whatever the uncomfortable feeling you have, you can get relief by pulling out a weapon and taking aim at some target. Children in school apparently make a pretty easy gallery.
This approach is like using the same tool for every situation, no matter what it is. Would you use a hammer to wind your watch or play your piano or punch down your bread dough or crochet a sweater? No. And how did you learn to lay your hands on the appropriate tool for each of these situations? Most likely, at a very young age, you watched someone do it. A role model. Perhaps a parent or grandparent. Someone you trusted, who spent time with you, doing everyday kinds of things.
Let’s look around. Where are the role models that are pulling out weapons for every crisis? Where are the role models who are negotiating, discussing, creatively engaging, brainstorming and experimenting with different non-violent approaches? Who are the role models who have multiple tools in their belts and use the appropriate ones for the situation? And violence, what is it good for? Is it ever the best tool for the job?
And, c’mon, let’s be creative. Why does our entertainment have to follow this unimaginative formula of violence? There are a million other options. There are a million other roles to play. Playing something different will make us smarter, wiser, more flexible, more open, more like children. School children….our vanishing resource.
© 2014, essay and photograph, Priscilla Galasso, All rights reserved
PRISCILLA GALASSO ~ started her blog at scillagrace.com to mark the beginning of her fiftieth year. Born to summer and given a name that means ‘ancient’, her travel through seasons of time and landscape has inspired her to create visual and verbal souvenirs of her journey.
Currently living in Wisconsin, she considers herself a lifelong learner and educator. She gives private voice lessons, is employed by two different museums and runs a business (Scholar & Poet Books, via eBay and ABE Books) with her partner, Steve.
10 thoughts on “Good Gawd, Y’all!”
The American gun law is something that coming from this side of the world, I will never understand. PEOPLE SHOULD NOT CARRY GUNS!!! NO! NOT NEVER NO MORE!
This is a very well written piece with a lot to think about. You have developed a very interesting and convincing argument. Thanks.
My heart breaks repeatedly. I believe the problem lies much deeper than the entertainment industry, although that industry certainly must carry some of the burden. I imagine the problem goes back to European efforts to destroy the Indigenous people of North America. Later, the genocide against Africans began, then the forced removal of folks of Spanish descent in the Southwest. We live in one of he most violent countries in the world. This is not new.
Niamh, I agree. I see no reason for weaponry. I also haven’t experienced any kind of personal attack, and I wonder at how that might change a person. I am extremely grateful for those who have been able to apply non-violence in a violent situation.
Thank you, Pat, for your comment and for engaging with this issue in your own thoughts.
Michael, you are right that violence is not new. And that its root is very deep. It is about power. I have a quote from Carl Jung on my refrigerator: “Where love rules, there is no will to power, and where power predominates, love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other.” I suppose that the majority has determined that power is preferable to love…or easier.
Very good essay, thought provoking. I think that we do not empower our children with a voice. We do not give them the skills or the self confidence to use verbal skills. They are not aware that they can make a difference with their voices.
And I do believe that TV, movies and especially videos play a large part in the blame. The reason that I believe that is this, I learned 37 years ago how effective and useful the tool of repetition was. For the third time I decided to quit smoking 37 years ago. It was October. I was ready to quit … and God said “no, not now, wait until January first.” Huh? Why? What for? It was then that I stared speaking to myself, out loud, in front of mirrors. I created a litany of about 10-15 phrases that I used. Each phrase was along the lines of: “This stinks, I hate smoking, pugh, this cigarette reeks!” So, I actually talked myself into quitting – successfully for once. By the time I quit I really hated smoking and was relieved to stop. This was all because of the repetitive phrases in my head.
TV, movies, and video games are laced with repetitive violence, seen over and over again. With video games one interacts with that violence. One becomes a part of it. Add that fact to one who feels powerless in society, unloved and un-nurtured at home, violence may be the only option they think that they have. And a gun in the hands of one who is young and who’s mind is undeveloped works for them. The undeveloped and unloved, powerless mind cannot think ahead to consequences. And the gun unlike other things that this powerless mind has attempted … actually works.
Liz, you raise a good point about slowing down. Undeveloped, unloved and unverbal can create an environment of powerlessness, and repetition is effective. So, how do we turn that around? Spend time. Spend time developing, loving, and talking – repetitively – and we can nurture a more loving, less violent culture.
Goodness, Priscilla, I almost missed this. You have approached it from a new angle, which is a refreshing change from the polarised vitriol that brings all the nasties out of the woodwork, when it comes to gun laws. Well done for raising it again. I think a better job than I did in December 2012, following the Connecticut Massacre. And we have seen nothing obvious in the media over here in the UK, of your latest tragedy. Are we, and by ‘we’ I mean the media, becoming numbed to this kind of event, or is this news being suppressed for fear of upsetting the gun lobby?
I’m going to share this post on FB and Twitter, at least to give it an airing amongst my connections.
My article in December 2012: http://poetjanstie.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/guns-and-roses.html
John, this was originally posted on my blog on Jan 15 of this year, so this is not “new news”. Thank you for sharing this and for your compliments. The discussion must continue, I think, as real change has yet to be effected.