Friday, February 15, 2008

Americans Are Still Addicted to Guns With Devastating Results

Yesterday's latest slaughter of American college students forces me to take time out to respond. My response is not as a grad student but as an American who has witnessed the news of American slaughters for the past 45 years. Will the United States ever wake up from the violence that is displayed daily in media headlines? Will Americans ever overcome their mass addiction to weapons of mass destruction?

At least five students are dead in Illinois from another random shooting attack on a college campus, the fourth at a U.S. school just this week. In 1970, four shooting deaths at Kent State University in Ohio changed the nation and were memorialized in the national consciousness. Today, we are so far from consciousness as a nation. The death toll from shootings in the United States is so overwhelming that no comparison can be made with other "civilized" nations.

Michael Moore attempted to raise the consciousness of Americans with his 2002 film Bowling for Columbine, which was the first documentary film accepted into competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 46 years. The Cannes jury unanimously awarded it the 55th Anniversary Prize. From michaelmoore.com:
"Bowling for Columbine is an alternately humourous and horrifying film about the United States. It is a film about the state of the Union, about the violent soul of America. Why do 11,000 people die in America each year at the hands of gun violence? The talking heads yelling from every TV camera blame everything from Satan to video games. But are we that much different from many other countries? What sets us apart? How have we become both the master and victim of such enormous amounts of violence? This is not a film about gun control. It is a film about the fearful heart and soul of the United States, and the 280 million Americans lucky enough to have the right to a constitutionally protected Uzi."

I believe that Michael Moore did raise consciousness and progress will be made. Yes, it is true that Americans are addicted to violence. As Robert Kennedy said:
"We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far-off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire whatever weapons and ammunition they desire... Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear: violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul."

Also in Bobby Kennedy's statement is the recognition of the ease with which Americans can commit mass murder. A new consciousness is begging to take hold in this nation and I believe that those who have weathered the storm are at long last ready to embrace a new breed of politician who will stand up for basic human rights. We collectively hold out hope for a redemption of democratic principles, integrity in government officials, a peaceful resolution of differences, and a return to the long-abandoned ideal of justice for all.

We owe it to people like Bobby Kennedy to continue where they left off. But most of all we owe it to the children who grow up in a violent society. Let us relearn life's lessons through our children, protect them from indefensible weapons, and allow them to live without fear. It is time to stand up to the cowardly politicians who will protect only the rich and powerful and not the mass majority. It is time to use our voting power to elect new leaders.

Barack Obama appears to be the breed of politician that we have been waiting for. Let us pray that he can lead us to salvation as a nation before we cross a threshold of violence from which we can not return.

~Kurt

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