The Culture of Violence

KnockoutSaturday, in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown Ct, I said “the real problem we’re facing isn’t the easy availability guns or that God isn’t allowed in our schools. It’s the culture of violence Americans seem hell bound to perpetuate.” What do I mean by this? Turn on the television and scan the channels. Very shortly, you’ll find violent shows available at the press of a button. Some of the biggest box office hits involve action heroes using all manner of weapons to dispatch the bad guys with “extreme prejudice“. Go to your local video game outlet and you’ll find something called “first-person shooter” games. These games date back to the 70’s and I’ve played some (Wolfenstein 3D). I know that Wolfenstein was incredibly violent, with blood spurting from your enemies when you shot them. But, the technology available at the time limited their realism. Today, with advances in graphics and processor speed, it is, at times, hard to tell animation from live action. The way we’re steeped in violence these days is scary.

Americans also have a seemingly unquenchable thirst for revenge. After 9-11, we were all about “getting” Osama bin Laden. And, even though it took 10 years, we got him. In a raid on his Abottabad compound, bin Laden was shot in the face by U.S. Navy SEALs of the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (aka SEAL Team 6). The announcement of this action was greeted with celebrations in the streets and chants of U-S-A! I want you to think about this for a moment: A nation that some tout as Christian dedicated itself to tracking down and assassinating one man. And, when that dedication bore fruit, the people of this so-called Christian nation danced in the streets. Strange behavior from followers of a man who entreated us to love our enemies and turn the other cheek.

The finger of blame is pointing everywhere but where it should: directly at us. We, as individuals and as a nation, are to blame for the deaths of those children in Connecticut, for those dead in Aurora, Colorado, for the people killed in Tuscon, in Christiansburg, at Columbine High School and every other mass shooting or murder that has happened in this country. We are to blame because, after every one of these tragedies, we wrung our hands and cried out “How long, O Lord!” And then, when the next big story came along, we forgot all about them. Oh, after each one, some of us said we need to have a real conversation about gun control. We’ve said we need to review the way we deal with mental health in this country. Some have even said that if we would only return to God, these tragedies would be a thing of the past. But, truthfully, these ideas all are merely band-aids, things that address the symptom of our sickness. And, make no mistake, our national obsession with violence is a sickness; one that is just as deadly as cancer or any other disease we fight. There’s prescription available: Love your enemies; turn the other cheek; if someone asks for your coat, give him your shirt also, go the extra mile. We just don’t take it because, like children, we don’t like the taste.