Let’s Talk about Violence in the US


This is a picture of the Las Vegas shooting that occurred on October 1, 2017.  There was no attribution of the photographer.

On February 15, 2018, a former student killed 17 people in a high school in Parkland, FL.  On February 10, 2018, two police officers were shot in Westerville, OH by a man with a record of prior domestic violence.  We are at the point where more people are dying from gun violence in the US each year than the average death rate of soldiers during the Vietnam War.  We have a major problem with violence in America, and it isn’t getting any better.

Every time an event of violence is unique enough to get news coverage, we hear about it.  The rest of the time, people killing each other, people killing policemen, policemen killing citizens, soldiers killing soldiers, drones and bombs killing citizens, and people killing soldiers occur without attention unless there are a lot of casualties.  Then we hear about it for a day or two, but nothing gets done to address the problems.

There are many people in the US using violence to further their own agendas.  With the cooperation of the US government, including the myriad intelligence and defense agencies, Congress and the Executive branch, the lobbyists for manufacturers of war materials, the spending for “defense” is the priority of the next government budget.

We do this even as we have enough nuclear weapons to plow the whole earth; enough rockets, bombs and drones to kill everyone in sight; and involvement in military operations in an estimated 150 countries around the world.  The US is the most violent nation in the world both internally and externally.  That violence has filtered down to the individuals in the US population.

Congress refuses to do anything to satisfy the desire of a vast majority of people to create stronger gun control, which involves screening out the felons, unfit military veterans, mentally ill, and those with records of domestic violence.  There is a need to limit the sale of military weapons to citizens.  The lobbyists of the gun manufacturers and the NRA are using fear of government siezure of military weapons and sale of these weapons that are solely designed to kill a lot of people quickly.  We should not be at war with each other.

These same weapons are then used by disgruntled members of society to kill large and small numbers of people for obscure reasons.  The following poem is called Violence Getting Personal.  It is a wakeup call to remind people not to take violence for granted.  We need to rethink our use of violence at every level from the US military to the individual with a gripe.  Violence is personal to those experiencing it.

Violence Getting Personal

Violent events!
We see the pictures
and hear the angry words,
but we are not touched.

We are not touched
for we have seen these things
many times before;
cartoons, video games, primetime TV.

We are not touched
by these abstractions;
remote images of strangers
in embarrassingly grotesque situations.

And then, we awaken
to kids killing kids;
friends attacked by strangers.
“What has happened to this world?”

The pain that we did not feel
before the violence became real
with names and faces that we know
has finally touched us.

© Copyright 1999
Rev. Jim Hetzer



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