Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Iron Fist

I've been thinking about violence a lot lately. I'm not a violent person, nor do I advocate the use of violence to solve conflict. I will, however, do what I must, including resort to violence, to protect myself or my family, and only as a last resort for I believe I am prayerful enough and wise enough to try other means first.

I've been concerned for years about the ever-escalating situation in the Middle East. Briefly, the U.S. has been a big supporter of Israel since its founding in 1948. Much of Israel's expansion has depended upon the thrashing and conquering of surrounding nations that lived in relative peace for years prior. Essentially, Israel has been a bully. Don't take my word for it. Go to The History Channel's site to learn for yourself. And, by the way, being anti-Israel is not the same as being anti-Jewish or anti-Semitic, so keep your flaming to yourself.

Here in the U.S., violence against LGBT people, particularly Black LGBTs, continues unabated. A Black lesbian in Washington, D.C. was murdered, allegedly for cooperating with the police in a murder case where the victim was a Black lesbian. Last year, another Black lesbian was murdered in D.C. Here in New York, one Black gay man was murdered, and two others savagely beaten. On the island of Jamaica, one young gay man was severely beatn by a mob egged on by the young man's father, two gay men were murdered, one in his home, reminiscent of murderous home invasions that were rampant in the 1970's and 80's, and in recent weeks, a young lesbian couple were murdered.

What can we attribute this brutality to? I don't have an answer, nor do I necessarily have a theory. I do know that Western society, particularly those countries with easy access to the Internet and those into video and electronic games are becoming more desensitized to violence, blood and gore. When you can take a life with the push of a button, it's just as easy to do it for real. But that's a pat and elemental theory. The reality is that when you have nothing to live for, you aren't afraid to die or help someone else to die by taking their life.

I said earlier that I thought I was prayerful enough and smart enough to find alternatives to violence. Many aren't. Today, I saw a sign posted outsied a community garden that said that planting corn meant you were interested in committing to an area, a community. When we stop directing money to the public school system, preferring to give it to vouchers for private schools, schools that often were (and still are) used to exclude many students, we stop committing to public schools and their improvement. When we provide increasing support to "luxury" housing, which really means nothing more than putting some dude at the door to accept your packages, a few mediocre exercise machines in a spare room and calling it a gym, throwing some stainless steel appliances that aren't necessarily high end, just highly finished, we stop committing to improving neighborhoods for the people already in the community who exercise at the Y and whose stoves have white enamel finish. The rich and nouveau riche are increasing, while the poor continue to get poor and stay poor. And all of that, coupled with lousy nutrition, substance abuse, and mental illness make for pissed-off people receptive to negative messages that lead to violence, irrespective of the source of those messages, e.g. the government, the church, or the media.

This post is not so much an offer of solution as much as it is a sad and angry rant. Our societies are self-combusting and something needs to change.



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