Tuesday, March 09, 2010


My Facebook had a comment about someone deserving a punch in the face.  I returned a comment that no matter what, no one ever deserves a punch in the face.  A responder made a comment about not taking life too seriously.

Violence is serious.  Accurate or not, I spent almost three years reading a graffitied quote in a bus stop on the Cornell campus:  "There are many things worth dying for, but nothing worth killing for" attributed to social protester, Rev. Daniel Berrigan, SJ.

When I find myself wanting to extract justice by anger and violence, I remind myself of that quote.   For years, I stared at the business end of a six shooter in the Lubbock Sunday newspaper, as part of an advertisement for a PHARMACY (no less.)   It insulted me...I finally wrote to the pharmacy and expressed my distress at the violence that ad bespoke.  It disappeared. 

I understand why that advertisement lived in Lubbock:  When I moved here in the late 1970's, most pick up trucks had gun racks that were loaded with guns... Even teenagers drove pickups with loaded gun racks...  Now, the pick up is a suburban mama vehicle, and less likely to have a gun rack.

I work in a psychiatric prison hospital.  I have learned a lot about life from the patients I work with. One thing I have learned is that violence begets violence. 

Many of my patients grew up in homes in which domestic violence is rampant... The model of solving any problem is violence. The way to gain dominance is violence.  Violence and revenge were the role model given to these men. How can they resolve problems any other way?

In the neighborhood, police are the enemy.  Problems with authority are the rule... The system did not work for the people in the neighborhood, so there was no using the system.  Everything was done outside the system. Chain of command was in the gang, not in established authority. There was no help, no relief, no uplift from established society... Police and authority were the enemy. Violence ruled.

So, violence becomes the norm.  And people become desensitized to violence... People are held hostage to violence, while the violator gets his way, in an effort to appease the violator. People give in to violators, in hopes the people will stay safe.  And the more violence there is, the more common it becomes, the more desensitized people are...

I worry about this because there is so much violence in our public media:  movies, news, TV shows, books. People learn that violence is a common way of life, acceptable behavior... So, a punch in the face, if well deserved, is okay... I am sorry, no matter how well deserved, a punch in the face is not acceptable...

And, the folks on Facebook were offended that I took exception to their comments about violence, about a "punch in the face." (Made in jest?)  Are we that crass, that unfeeling, that uncaring, that willing to subject people to violence that we think comments about violence are funny?

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Blogger linda said...

I wholeheartedly support and commend your rejection of violence. I will say two things in response.

1. Why I found the Facebook punch-in-the-face post "funny" to the extent that I did: it explicitly made fun of the way people mass-forward emails and repost-as-status this or that "message" and then think they have accomplished something. It did so by using the tool of satire of taking the utter opposite of what people had been blindly posting, a breast cancer awareness update with invented statistics. In that sense it was sort of like Swift's "A Modest Proposal" that in proposing to eat the Irish (Scottish?) babies, clearly did not want to eat any babies and in fact was making a statement about human life being valuable (not discounted because they are poor Irish people). I had resented getting the "93% of you won't post this" for weeks about cancer/God because I think someone made up that 93% figure and then people kept re-sending it along as fact, so I found the satirical post highly amusing. As satire.

2. Besides media images and other desensitizing, our government actively solicits and encourages violence daily by making war. I am personally offended by the existence of our military as it is presently constituted, preying on especially the under-privileged and ignorant to go out in the world killing people. I believe it is wrong for the government to ever ask anyone, let alone an impressionable 18-19-year-old, to murder another human being. I firmly believe that as long as that is happening, all of the other neighborhood and domestic violence of which you speak will continue to happen as well. I am committed to making people realize that war is murder, specifically the government forcing people to murder other people through a rhetoric of patriotism, jingoism, narcissism, and god-honor-country ignorance that lacks any critical thought. It disgusts me.

March 10, 2010 2:20 PM  
Blogger jnap said...

Thank you Linda. Don't get me started about war.

In addition to every thing else, if you talk a veteran, he is very apt to tell you that all he learned in the military was to kill.

March 10, 2010 7:41 PM  

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