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Archive for June 5th, 2017

These terror attacks in London seem to me to be something we should have seen coming some time ago. That’s not a very nice thing to say, I’m sure, but think about it for a moment. I don’t know precisely what the catalyst has been but extremism has been around for millions of years. Peoples have been killing for as long as man has existed. Cain slaying Abel may be what some call “the first case of murder,” but it’s always been there. Extremism, in any form, always reaches a point of violence of one group against another.

It seems to me, and I’m certainly no theologian, that the God of the Old Testament was about as violent and wrathful as anyone, deity or not. I look at my own country and see just how prejudiced it and I am. For the most part, people will deny their prejudices, but deep down, we all have them. We may cross the street if we see a homeless person coming toward us, talking to him or herself while wheeling a shopping cart filled with god only knows what. The same may be true if we see a group of young men who appear to be “looking tough” coming in our direction. What do you think when a car drives by with all of its windows open and the radio blaring so loudly that you think you’ll go deaf from the assault on your eardrums…no, no, no, I don’t want your answer. What did you think when I stated that scenario? How did you react?

Because of…because of a lot of things, we are more attuned, more aware, or made more aware of violence wherever and whenever it occurs. A week or so ago, I posted a piece on domestic violence and in it I said that an American woman is battered every nine seconds, and a person is shot every fourteen hours in a domestic dispute. I come home from a pleasant lunch and read that five people in Orlando, Florida have been killed by a disgruntled employee. Hell, I worked more than 40 years in a variety of jobs. I’ve seen employees pissed off at any number of levels, but I don’t ever recall one, at least in my working career, taking a gun and killing someone. Becoming sufficiently angry that you are willing to sacrifice your own life just to kill others seems to me to be a 21st Century phenomenon. Yet, as I said above, we can take this entire violence schtick all the way back to the Bible.

I swore this wouldn’t evolve into a history lesson, but think about the violence committed against the Native Americans when explorers first landed on the continent of North America. The Spaniards greeted the Indians with swords and blunderbusses. The Puritans conducted raids and massacres, then turned around and began accusing one another of witchcraft…and the only way it seems you were able to prove you weren’t a wish was to die. It’s crazy.

We bitch and wail and wring our hands when we hear that some female in some Middle Eastern society has been stoned to death for what appears to us to be a nothing ‘crime.’ But how long has that been going on in that particular society or culture. How about the human sacrifices that we are just now learning of in our exploration of early civilizations? Civilizations, that’s a hell of a word, isn’t it? What is so civilized about a group of people who would sacrifice others to appease…what? To appease the gods? Ah, but there is only one God. Really? Because you’d never know it the way we treat one another in today’s age of enlightenment. That’s a joke. We’re no more enlightened than man has ever been since the beginning of time. We’re not enlightened because we still feel, deep down in our bowels that killing is alright and can be justified in situations that we believe are right and just. A father becomes depressed and kills his entire family by slitting their throats. What is the hue and cry? “Give that son-of-a-bitch a taste of his own medicine.” “Hang the bastard.” “He should be shot.” Outrage. Outrage. Outrage. We’ve all said it in one form or another, and anyone who says, “Not me,” is a liar.

Hatred and rage is part of the human psyche. How do we combat it? I haven’t a clue. Maybe, if we didn’t make it sound so exciting, whether on television, in social media, as headlines in our daily papers, maybe that could be a start…but that is not going to happen. We certainly can’t terrify people who are determined to kill others by telling them that they, too, will die. That doesn’t work because in all too many cases, that’s exactly what they want and expect. You can’t very well say, “Well, let’s go on an extremist hunt and kill the bastards before they kill us good guys.” Repeat that to yourself, if you’d like, and then you’ll see just how nonsensical that statement is. Who are the extremists? Are they the ones with the different colored skin? Perhaps they’re the people down the street whose cooking smells are different from our own. Maybe they’re the ones where the men all have long beards. Perhaps they’re the ones with the curls and long hair and who dress differently from the way “we” dress. Is every woman who wears a hajib a terrorist. Perhaps it’s those who speak with an accent…no, no, not that accent, a different accent. Are you beginning to get the drift here? For the most part, extremists do not walk around with a sign around their necks proclaiming their extremism. You and I might well be classified as extremists by others, but I don’t really believe that either of us is going to pick up a gun or the keys to our car or truck and run people down while firing away. Well, that’s me. You, eh, I haven’t a clue.

So, do you see the difficulty of stopping people from killing one another? Why do we think it’s more prevalent today than at other times in history? Who knows, maybe it isn’t. Maybe, it’s that our world, once so massive that it took months for news from one continent to reach another, is now so small, that we can view, almost live, actions taking place across the globe. Could that, possibly be it? An extremist sees an action taking place half a world away and thinks, “Dammit, that’s right, I’m going to out and do something about it,” without ever even realizing just precisely what “it” really is.

Maybe there is no solution. Maybe terrorism or extremism or whatever label you wish to attach to it is just another part of what living is all about. You walk down the street, you get shot, so what? You’re riding on the 420 bus to wherever and the bus driver flips out, starts running people down and drives the bus off a bridge, so what? I hate to think of life in these terms, but it certainly seems to be the reality of today. It’s kind of sad when you think about it. I remember a time when my folks never locked their doors. I’m quite certain, if they were alive today, their doors would be locked and the guns they owned would not just be for hunting rabbit and deer. Come to think of it, I’ll bet they’re in a far, far better place than some of us.

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