The post-Orlando lashings. Yes, it makes me sad but no, it does not shock me. More of this will come. We have normalized violence to the point that we can’t help but vomit it back up whenever we get sick. We are addicted to violence. We’ve made it glamorous. We’ve elevated it to glory status. We teach people by example that violence is a reasonable response to disagreement with lifestyle, principle, religion, everything. We’ve made violence a game, a sport, and our favorite form of entertainment. I’ve heard scads of jokes about the tactics of those we consider radical terror groups but check out the new American way. We shoot it, blow it up, poison it, shame it into mental illness or bully it into suicide if we don’t like it. Look at any screen. You’ll see it.
People default to violence as a prescription for any feeling they wish to escape. We say they should know better but we never teach them better. We never balance the scales in popular culture. Alternatives to violence don’t come with the same glamour and glory so they cannot compete. We are shocked and appalled but we created this monster. We blame the weapon when the blame lies with a culture that has normalized and in fact, glorified violence. We say all kinds of things that sound right and good and the way things ought to be but we don’t walk the walk when it comes to consumption. We feed ourselves a steady diet of violence with justifications slopped on top like condiments over a shitty hotdog. But we are what we eat. We are violent, hateful, fear-governed people who escape our reality with fictional violence, hate, and fear.
This weekend alone I watched one movie, one documentary, the season premier of a crazy-sexy popular TV show, and one season finale of a crazy-sexy popular TV show. I saw seven murders, one mass murder, two mutilations, one rape, two wars, a terror attack, and four brutal beatings including torture. I entertained myself with this. It probably shouldn’t be so easy for me compartmentalize those images. And yet it is. Because I’ve developed a tolerance, which means I’ve developed an acceptance. I’m not the only one.
(Sigh.) In the virtual world I can just insert a sassy little paragraph to keep this from ending on a sour note. I can just plug in some lalala feel good hope love and light stuff right here.
Or not. I can do what we all do; just swipe my thumb or push a button to make it all go away. Move on to foster kitten videos. Happy half-marathon photos. Vacation pics. A soulful Prince tribute. An article about the last quarter moon in Aries. Ahem, selfies. But the clock ticks and I know as sure as I write this someone else is getting sick inside and sooner or later, will vomit up more violence.
And I wonder.
I broke my addiction to sugar. I’ve gone meat-free, dairy-free, wheat-free, Facebook-free, debt-free, caffeine-free, and alcohol-free before. I’ve unplugged before. Could I break my addiction to consuming violence? Could I stop watching it, or at least, stop watching it gratuitously? Could I stop paying for it? Stop subscribing? Just not do it anymore? I mean, if I CARE and I want things to be DIFFERENT and I want to DO SOMETHING about it, I have to start somewhere, right? Where do I start?
If I do this it is probably going to suck more than giving up sugar. And it isn’t that I don’t acknowledge that Nature is violent and that our existence in the natural world comes with a certain amount of inherent violence. I get that. But I have normalized violent behavior beyond the limits of my natural design. And I’m not the only one.
I live on a planet with 7 billion other people. I don’t know how to affect 7 billion people without starting with me.
More to come on this, I’m sure.