January 10, 2011
Vina del Mar, Chile
I abhor violence. Non-retaliatory violence is a desperate act of intolerant men who cannot sort out their differences reasonably and peacefully. Violence is the answer for those who lack the intellectual merit to win a battle of ideas and can only resort to more animalistic behavior to impress their point.
The greater the violence, the more unfortunate the outcome– major acts of violence result in loss of life, collateral damage, destruction of property, changes in social mood, and more.
Every single day, crazed lunatics claim the lives of innocent people; sometimes it’s a premeditated crime, sometimes it’s a crime of passion, sometimes it’s a complete accident, sometimes it’s an act of terror, and sometimes people are just in the wrong place at the wrong time when a 500 pound bomb is dropped over Afghanistan.
Each instance represents a theft upon humanity.
A shooting took place this weekend in Arizona which was devastating, to say the least… but in my mind, no more or less devastating than any other murderous rampage, whether in the United States or anywhere in the world. Because a US Congresswoman was ostensibly the intended victim, however, it’s captured worldwide attention.
Speaker of the House John Boehner summarized many politicians’ reactions to Saturday’s shooting when he said, “an attack on one who serves is an attack on all who serve. Acts and threats of violence against public officials have no place in our society.”
I’m inclined to believe that acts and threats of violence against -all people- have no place in any free society. The life of a politician is not worth more than the life of the nine year old girl who was shot and later died at the hospital, or the 76-year old man who died on the scene as he was protecting his wife, or of any of the other victims.
I’ve seen mainstream media reports that portray the apparent shooter as an anti-government subversive whose favorite books include Mein Kampf and the Communist Manifesto. This makes absolutely no sense– what kind of anti-government proponent counts Hitler, Marx, and Engels as his favorite authors?
Rather, it’s more likely that the shooter was just another loony who owned a firearm and decided to use it. If the victim had been Gabrielle the bus driver instead of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, it would have barely registered a few words at the bottom of the CNN news ticker.
With one of their own victimized, however, I’m concerned that politicians will close ranks, capitalize on the social mood to generate a renewed faith in government, and pass a host of reactionary policies… all after sanitizing their Twitter feeds for any reference to violence, of course.
Perhaps some form of gun control is in the works… though with a Republican controlled Congress, I’d think new legislation targeting suspected ‘Anti-American subversives’ could be on the table, or something that gives sweeping new powers to government agents and police forces.
In 1946, the 79th Congress of the United States passed public law 601 giving permanent standing to the House Committee on Un-American Activities. This committee was authorized significant powers to investigate ‘subversive and un-American propaganda’ and assist Congress in ‘necessary remedial legislation.’
Ironically, in its efforts to ensure that America was nothing like the Soviet Union, the US government began turning the country into a fascist collective. Given what may come after the weekend’s shooting, I fear we may be returning to a time when it is increasingly dangerous to be a free thinking individual anywhere in the West.
With Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano perched above WalMart shoppers encouraging Americans to spy on each other, I sense the boiling frog may soon be getting a few degrees warmer.
I would suggest that if your ideals and beliefs make you increasingly isolated from your neighbors, maybe it’s time to find new neighbors.
Vibrant expat communities are starting to blossom all over the world, and as we routinely discuss, it’s possible (and in many cases easier) to live a much freer life and earn a great living by applying your skills overseas.
There are plenty of great options out there… dozens of places where you could feel more alive, more at home, and more at ease; it simply starts with the willingness and courage to take action, start the research, and develop relationships with like-minded people.