Another student at a high school brought a shotgun to school and killed another student. The week before, some other student decided to air out his grievances using guns against random strangers. A short while before that, yet another gunman brought guns to a Batman premiere and erupted in violence there.
What’s going on these days? Why have people in Random Town, USA showing up with guns and killing people for whatever twisted reasons they can concoct at that particular moment?
When I went to high school, I remember being scared for my life at times, but that was because I went to Santa Monica High School (my first year) and there were violent gangs that were quickly taking over the outskirts of campus. Even so, campus was considered somewhat safe; it was just dangerous when you walked off campus, including the one time I got mugged for $15 by an entire gang of black street thugs (who also happened to be students at my school). Back then, the gangs fought amongst themselves (black gangs versus Hispanic gangs, but slowly the rest of us were being singled out for violence by these carefree criminals living in our society. Things were getting worse, but they hadn’t reached the point where I think they’ve become today.
Keep in mind, I went to school in a large city, where that kind of violence seemed to become the norm. But what we’re seeing now is violence on an unscaled comparison that is taking place in those communities where news stories begin with: “And we never imagined such a thing might happen here.”
Yet, the politicians in this country, all running for office, seem mostly interested in talking about abortion and other inane topics that really have no relevance to the majority of people on a daily basis.
I’m sorry, but abortion is a fringe topic, and while some people may find it significant as an issue, that’s one of those things that really needs to be decided between people who are faced with that issue, not by every fly by night politician who wants to pretend to be an advocate for family values or some other nonsense. What has happened is that it has become one of those issues that appears to have meaning but is really smoke, mirrors and air. It’s like saying you’re against crime. We’re all against crime. But that doesn’t make the issue go away. Abortion is a lot like that because the real issue shouldn’t be about abortion; it should be about the causes of prenancy, because THAT is the issue that progressives and fundamentalists are REALLY arguing over. They just don’t want to admit it. Instead, they make grandiose gestures about saving lives (either the unborn child or the life of the mother), when in reality both sides are really wanting to be arguing about promiscuity and free choice decisions for men and women. It’s just so much easier to go the other direction with the argument.
In reality, conservatives have a great opportunity to punish a woman for her “promiscuity” by taking away her rights to decide for herself what is best for her and/or the child she may or may not have. On the other side, the progressives argue that it’s about free choice, when it’s free choice that got the particular couple into the mess in the first place.
In other words, there’s no real easy answer to the children issue, and trying to “solve” it gives a great opportunity to ignore that the REAL issues of America can’t be solved either. And I’m talking about crime and poverty. Because if you trace all of the problems that seem to come into the disagreements, THOSE TWO are the issues that fuel pretty much everything else.
If there was no poverty, there would be no need for crime (other than just crazy people doing crazy things). But poverty leads people to do all sorts of things that they wouldn’t normally do, right or wrong. Then we have to allocate resources to stopping them, putting them in prison, and maybe even trying to rehabilitate them. Without poverty, you probably wouldn’t even have an abortion issue, because even if conservatives got everything they wanted, every child could be born and put into adoption. But that rarely happens today because quite a few poor women who have children have all sorts of problems that stem from the fact that they’re poor. Pushing aside the obvious desire of a mother to keep her child, there’s also the possibility that the child is going to be born with problems because of the fact of poverty that existed when the mother was pregnant. There is drug use, crime infested areas and abuse issues that are inherent in a lot of these cases. In some cases, a mother may not have access to any of the services she needs because a) she may not even realize the services are available because no one ever told her they might be, b) she may be in a home situation that forces her into making decisions that she doesn’t want to make but lives in an environment where she really doesn’t have the freedom to make choices like she should be able to (either through an oppressive partner or any number of other factors, and c) she may have access to nothing to help her, including information. Some areas see the indigent as problems and have very little desire to assist them.
I’ll give you a good example. Me. My mother was uneducated and forced to work in very low-paying jobs in the 1960s. She had few skills, which meant she wasn’t capable of doing a lot of things. She probably should have aborted me or sent me off for adoption as that would have probably increased her survival. She already had a teenage daughter at the time I arrived. Yet, she didn’t do that, and we lived through some very harsh times. And she died very early as a result of destructive diseases that took her down fast. Had I not been around, there’s a pretty good chance that things might not have been so bad for her. For most of her life, whenever she attempted to access governmental benefits, she was turned down and sent away. Instead, we went without, a lot.
Poverty is probably the one basic factor behind why most of the problems exist in America today. Yet, we do absolutely nothing to alleviate it, other than flash in the pan treatments that only continue to make things limp on as they have before. We’ve done more to eradicate poverty and hunger in other countries than we have in our own country, somehow relying on charities at home as a solution that has never actually solved anything.
But this whole conversation started as a discussion about random violence at schools and in our communities. On the surface, poverty and those events may not seem related, but they are. You see, violence brought on by poverty has fueled a thought process amongst the youth over the last few generations where the belief is that in order to achieve what you need, it may take violence and guns to do it. I mentioned before that one day when I was mugged walking home from school in Santa Monica. Shortly after that, I started imagining what I could have done if I had had a gun that day. I realized I might not have been a victim, but I could have gotten the upperhand and killed a bunch of them before they ever stole from me again.
Fortunately, that moment never came, and fortunately I channeled a lot of that aggression into a military career instead. Today, I don’t feel the same way as I used to, prone to moments of nonviolence rather than the other way around.
But I can see how years of this kind of institutional abuse would start people down a path that makes more sense to them than might have made sense years earlier to a previous generation. And meanwhile, we’re watching the gladiators perform in the coliseum while Rome burns, wondering why its getting so hot.