January 13th, 2021
The World Health Organization has defined violence as:
“the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation.”
Americans love violence. We really do.
We are just selective about who we want to hurt.
Many of our Representatives and Senators have spoken out about the violence during the riot at the Capitol last week. Five people were killed during that melee. Without exception, our legislators have condemned the violence of the mob, and the subsequent loss of life. People have described the barbarity as being “un-American”. That is not true. That sort of mayhem was very American. It’s totally American.
Last week these very same members of Congress overrode President Trump’s veto to pass the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) and fund our nation’s military institutions with another $741 billion. The bill passed by a vote of 322 to 87 in the house, and 81 to 13 in the Senate. Very few of our legislators voted against spending damn near three quarters of a trillion dollars to get America the best violence that money can buy. Of those who did vote against this spending bill, I am sure that even fewer did so because they abhor violence.
It all depends on who is getting hurt. We don’t really care if a wedding party in Afghanistan gets blown away by a Hellfire missile fired from a drone. We don’t really care if some Iraqis die when we invade and occupy their country. We don’t care if civilians in Yemen die from disease and hunger because we are arming the Saudis. As far as we are concerned, this is all the price of doing business in the world. We don’t know any of these people, and we don’t want to know them.
However, we definitely do care when a crazed mob of Trumpistas bust into the Capitol and terrorize the legislators hiding there. We are outraged when five people die in this recent madness, but we shrug when we are told that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died because of the violent behavior of the United States.
My son fought in Iraq. He told me about killing people there. He shot some folks, and he stabbed a man to death. My son got medals for doing that sort of thing. The guy who killed the cop at the Capitol with a fire extinguisher won’t get a medal. He will most likely go to prison forever.
The killer at the Capitol has been roundly condemned. The policeman he killed has been called a hero. Flags are flying at half-mast for the cop. Our country honors Officer Brian Sicknick, and it should do so. He was defending those who were defenseless and in danger.
The cop who killed Breonna Taylor in Louisville is free. So is the police officer who pumped seven rounds into the back of Jacob Blake in Kenosha. Are there any flags flying lower for Breonna or Jacob? No. Why not?
It all depends on who is getting hurt.
I wonder if our connection with violence goes deeper than our conscious thought.
I woke up from a night terror an hour ago. Bad stuff. I never remember much from these dreams. I only know that in the dream something dark and evil was coming at me through our front door.
I heard Karin’s voice calling to me frantically. My wife roused me from my dream. This has all happened many times in the past. Karin often pulls me away from my demons. She has some self-interest in all of this. When I have my dark and twisted dreams, I lash out. I sometimes strike Karin inadvertently.
I woke up from Karin’s anxious words. My heart rate was through the roof. I could only hoarsely say, “Sorry.”
It was quiet in the dark.
I finally broke the silence and said,
Karin sighed deeply. She murmured sleepily,
“Stop hitting me.”