Culture of Violence

Thankfully, Molokai is not a microcosm of America. Here, guns are are for hunting. In America, only a fraction of gun owners hunt. In America, for the most part, guns are about power and control. The desire for that sense of power and control comes from a place of fear.

It is America’s culture of violence and easy access to guns that led to the latest mass shooting, and all of the ones that preceded it. This young man in Florida was born in the wake of the Columbine massacre, and since he was two years old, America has been at war. Since he was two years old, America has been using violence to ‘solve’ its problems. This young man was certainly very troubled, but rather than compassion and help, he was expelled. He was a ticking time bomb, let loose in a country filled with guns. What he didn’t already know about guns and violence, he certainly learned as a member of JROTC.

The NRA is right, guns aren’t the problem. America is the problem. This culture of fear, this culture of revenge, this culture of violence, this American culture is the problem. As Dr. King said, violence begets violence. Violence hasn’t worked in the fight against ‘terrorism’, it has only amplified the violence. Seventeen years after 9/11, we’re no longer afraid, we’re paranoid. We’ve lost track of all the countries we’re bombing due to this paranoia. It was violent foreign policy that led to the terrorism of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, and it was the violent response to that terrorism that has led to the chaos in the world we see today.

This young man should never breathe free air again. This is a horrific thing he has done. But people will be calling for his blood, calling for the state of Florida to kill him, calling for revenge. Calling for violence as a response yet again, to violence. And the circle will remain unbroken.

The only difference between people all over the world is that some live their lives with aloha, and some don’t. Most people can change, but if we expect them to change, if we expect the lost sheep to rejoin the flock, we have to have genuine, unconditional love and aloha. We have to learn to live without fear, to forgive rather than seek revenge. We have to be the change.

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Guns Aren’t The Problem…

I grew up in a family of hunters. My grandfather killed an incredible number of deer during his lifetime, and he never needed more than a shot gun. He often used a bow. If I ever hunt again, it will only be with a bow. I gave up my license to carry when I left Massachusetts, and left the guns I had behind with family members. I liked the idea of the license to carry, I liked the idea of guns. So much power. To hold death in your hands is very powerful. I was raised in America, so of course I was full of fear. That fear is long gone. When I got home from Iraq, I no longer feared the boogeyman and I no longer wanted to have a gun, for ‘self-defense’ or otherwise. Unless you are hunting to put food on the table, shooting is about power. Owning guns is about power. The reason so many people fall in love with guns is the sense of power and control it gives them that many of them lack in other aspects of their lives. But the reason we want guns, if not to hunt, is fear. The desire for that sense of power and control comes from a place of great fear.

After my grandfather died and my uncle took his guns away, my grandmother said she wanted to get a handgun “just in case”. We convinced her she was perfectly safe without it and that if an intruder were to break into her house, they would probably grab it out of her hands and hit her over the head with it. If someone breaks in, just offer to make them a sandwich. Treat them like family, show them the love that they are obviously lacking, and maybe they won’t rob you. We also reminded her about the lessons of Jesus that she taught us as kids, about turning the other cheek and all that.

Most gun owners want their guns for the same reason my grandmother wanted one; fear. Fear of the boogeyman. Of course there are so many guns in America, we are more afraid than any other country (and some of these countries have good reason to be afraid). Fear is used to control us, and we are certainly controlled by fear. Fear of the boogeyman, fear of the ‘other’.

A lot of people support building a wall for the same reason a lot of people support the war, which is the same reason a lot of people own guns. We are afraid of what we don’t know, what we don’t understand. We can’t relate to those who have been dehumanized to us our entire lives. We’ve been socialized not to care when those who have been dehumanized are killed one by one, or by the dozen. Whether they are killed by a soldier in Afghanistan, a drone in Somalia, or a cop in Baltimore, we don’t see our neighbor when we look at them. We certainly don’t see our family. We don’t help them, we don’t mourn them, we ignore them and continue along the road to Jericho. We fear them. We fear the idea of them. We fear everything they represent. They are the enemy. They’re all around us and they’re closing in, that’s why we need a wall, that’s why we need to keep the bombs dropping, that’s why we need guns; to protect ourselves from the boogeyman.

If it’s not fear of the dehumanized masses, it is a fear of the government driving the desire to own guns. Many people who own guns not to hunt and not to shoot the boogeyman, own them because they think the founding fathers are depending on them to overthrow the criminal, corrupt, awful government. They think (apparently) that a shotgun, a rifle, heck, even an AR-15 will stand a chance against an MRAP, a drone, heck, even a ballistic missile. The American government is certainly criminal, corrupt, and awful, but it always has been. Genocide, slavery, and imperialism are encoded in our DNA. America is nothing if not violent. Violence will not stop it. The only possible way to make America a bearable, more humane country is to take a lesson from Dr. King, or take a lesson from Jesus. Non-violent civil disobedience. If you don’t like the government and the terrible things it is doing then stop paying for it.

Guns cannot stop the government. Guns cannot stop the boogeyman. Guns cannot stop fear. As long as we live our lives in fear of boogeymen, scarecrows, and shadows, we will accept violence as an answer to our problems. It never works. As Dr. King said, violence begets violence. Violence hasn’t worked in the fight against ‘terrorism’, it has only amplified the violence and the terrorism. Seventeen years after 9/11, we are no longer afraid, we’re paranoid. We have lost track of all the countries we’re bombing due to this paranoia. It was violent foreign policy that led to the terrorism of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, and it was the violent response to that terrorism that has led to the chaos in the world we see today.

It is America’s culture of violence and easy access to guns that led to this most recent mass shooting, and all of the ones that preceded it. This young man in Florida was born in the wake of the Columbine massacre, and since he was two years old, America has been at war. Since he was two years old, America has been using violence to ‘solve’ its problems. This young man was certainly very troubled, but rather than compassionate health care, he was expelled. He was a ticking time bomb, let loose in a country filled with guns. If he didn’t already know about guns, he certainly learned as a member of the air rifle team and of JROTC. With a little more guidance, who knows, he might have wound up in the military, he might have wound up in Afghanistan, he might have killed Afghan school children instead of American school children, and then he might have went to college on the GI Bill instead of to prison or death row. He might have wound up being labeled a hero rather than a monster.

There are perhaps a few other countries that could have created such a young man as this, but in these countries he would have never been able to get his hands on a gun, certainly not a high powered assault rifle. Guns aren’t the problem, the problem is a country that produces so many citizens who want to own guns, and so many citizens who think, perhaps from studying their own government, that violence will solve their problems. The NRA is right that guns aren’t the problem. America is the problem. This culture of fear, this culture of revenge, this culture of violence, this American culture is the problem.

This young man should never breathe free air again in his life. This is a horrific, terrible thing he has done. But people will be calling for his blood, calling for the state of Florida to kill him, calling for revenge. Calling for violence as a response, yet again, to this terrible violence. And we will be right back where we started.

Posted in america, american dream, collateral damage, education, empathy, empire, fear, guns, Iraq, Jesus, life, MLK, racism, recruiting, revenge, russia, school shootings, slavery, Syria, terrorism, Trump, Uncategorized, Vietnam, violence, war, war tax resistance, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Others Like Them

America is a nation of ticking time bombs

people feeling dejected and rejected

people feeling disconnected and cut off

from friends and families

people feeling shit on by society

people feeling alone and forsaken

people who have taken psychotropic drugs

for so long they can’t remember

what life was like before

people who only remember America

at war

people who just don’t care anymore

these people

and others like them

have better access to guns and ammunition

than to a healthy home

and a decent physician.

 

There have been 18 school shootings

so far this year

and the response is

what it has always been:

more fear

and of course more security

and more locks

lets just turn the schools into Ft. Knox

but its just more and more

of the same old

same old

more and more

lies told

more and more

of humanity gets sold

to make a buck

and more and more we suffer

and less and less we give a fuck

when thousands die in the Middle East

we bear the burden

but we fuel the beast

and the least we could do

is see the connection

but we say things will change,

come next election

and it’s strange that we can’t see

that the violence overseas

is tied to the violence

we see in our schools

when a culture of violence

is our golden rule.

 

The NRA is right

guns AREN’T the problem

AMERICA is the problem

America is the ticking time bomb

guns are the match

that lights the fuse

some people drown in booze,

some choose the trigger

but the problem is so much bigger

than we let on.

We’re so afraid

of boogeymen

and shadows

that we feel the need

to hold death in our hands

but it’s never the boogeymen

laying in the ICU

it’s never the shadows

laying dead in a classroom.

Yes, the NRA is right

guns aren’t the problem…

a country

whose people feel they need guns

feel they deserve guns

feel it’s their god given right to have guns

not to kill deer

but to kill people…

that is the problem.

They beat you for protesting Wall Street

the endless war

and killer police

but you can walk down the street

with death by your side

exclaiming your pride in the constitution

even without a regulated militia.

 

Yes, there have been 18 school shootings

so far this year

but how many bombings have there been

how many children, women, and men

has America killed

since the first of the year?

how many more

will die

in the Middle East

and in the Mid West

(and the rest of the country)

because of fear?

 

 

Posted in Afghanistan, america, american dream, capitalism, collateral damage, death, fear, guns, history, Iraq, NRA, poem, Poetry, school shootings, Syria, taxes, Uncategorized, war, war tax resistance, Yemen | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Dragging the Flag

Shaun White won the gold medal

for the United States

in the winter olympics

in Korea

and right after he won

someone handed him an American flag

so in the pictures of him

sure to be seen

around the world

he would be holding a flag

but after he was handed the flag

he took his gloves off

and then had to grab his snowboard

and while he was doing this

the cameras caught him

inadvertently dragging the flag

through the snow

on his way to get the gold

and people are upset at him.

 

I wonder if the people upset at him

for inadvertently dragging the flag

through the snow

were upset at the Boston police

on October 10, 2011

when they choke-slammed

a female Iraq war veteran

to the ground

and then they,

the Boston police

trampled the American flag

that she had been holding

as she protested Wall Street

and the Government

peacefully

and after they choke-slammed

this young woman,

this Harvard student,

to the ground

and after they,

the Boston police

trampled the American flag

that this veteran

had been holding

they arrested her

and a lot of other veterans

and a lot of other people

whose only crime

was believing

in the constitution.

 

I wonder if the people upset at him

for inadvertently dragging the flag

through the snow

are upset at our politicians

for dragging the flag

all over the world

as they use our tax dollars

to pillage village after village

city after city

and town after town.

If someone handed one to me

I would immediately toss it down,

I wouldn’t waste the energy

dragging the flag.

 

I wonder if the people upset at him

for inadvertently dragging the flag

through the snow

have ever given a thought

to what that flag

actually represents…

that flag that has flown

over genocide

over slavery

over conquest

and over nuclear tests

that have poisoned the earth

from the Marshall Islands

to the land of my birth.

I will protect the land

but reject borders

and reject empire

and reject anthems

and reject flags.

There might be reasons

to be upset at Shaun White

but who gives a shit

what he drags

through the Korean snow.

Maybe he was trying

to clean

some of the blood

off of it.

 

 

 

Posted in america, american dream, olympics, poem, Poetry, Shaun White, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

From Jerusalem To Jericho

Luke 10:25-37

Are we the priest, passing by

on the other side of the road

or are we the Levite, passing by

on the other side of the road

or are we the Samaritan,

stopping to help and heal

do we see our neighbor among the victims,

do we feel

love for the beaten,

the robbed,

the tired,

the hungry,

the poor?

Or are we with the mob

paying for the war

and locking every door

and shouting ‘do not trespass’

as we throw stones

from our glass houses

do we break the silence

or are we just church mice

humanity’s lice,

biting our tongues

as the world is doused in gasoline

are we with

our neighbor,

or are we with

the machine

ignoring the unseen,

the dead and the dying

we’re lying to ourselves

if we think our hands are clean

at least the priest and Levite

didn’t beat and steal from the man

but us?

we take the other side of the road

and wash the blood off our hands

because Uncle Sam demands

that we not only ignore our neighbors

but we kill them too

so the red, white, and blue

won’t get any of my bread

until every last one

of my neighbors is fed

and every last sword

is turned to a plowshare

until every last passerby

does more than stare

as the bodies pile up

along the side of the road

from Jerusalem to Jericho.

 

 

 

Posted in Afghanistan, apathy, bible, god, Iraq, Jericho, Jerusalem, Jesus, Luke 10:25-37, palestine, peace, poem, Poetry, poetry for peace, taxes, Uncategorized, violence, war, war tax resistance | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Ate Weeds

When the goats escaped

they walked right past the garden,

an abundance of delicious

leafy-green vegetables

to eat weeds.

 

It’s not the fence

that truly confines them.

 

I won’t test this theory though.

 

I immediately led them back

to the pasture

where they ate weeds

while I mended the fence.

Posted in animals, farm, farming, goats, poem, Poetry, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

And She Cried

There is an old woman

whose husband had died

and she cried

and she cried

and she cried

and she cried

 

and then this old woman’s

children all died

and she cried

and she cried

and she cried

and she cried

 

and then this old woman’s

grandchildren all died

and she cried

and she cried

and she cried

and she cried

 

then her tears turned to rivers

that flowed far and wide

and she cried

and she cried

and she cried

and she cried

 

they flowed to the sea

and they salted the tide

still she cried

and she cried

and she cried

and she cried

 

then they went to the clouds

and the heavens all cried

still she cried

and she cried

and she cried

and she cried

 

then she sought out the king

who for so long had lied

but behind castle walls

where the king tried to hide

with dry eyes

counting prizes

from war after war

this old woman, with teary eyes

knocked down the door

then she let out a roar,

‘Not one more!

Not one more!

Not one more!

Not one more!’

 

and then the floods came

and the king could not swim

but this tired old woman

stretched her hand out to him

 

then she reached for his crown

and placed it on her own head

‘Now the people will rule,

and will speak for the dead’

 

he let go of her hand

and tried to take back the crown

and so greed, not revenge

is why the king drowned.

Posted in collateral damage, empathy, forgiveness, greed, humanity, life, love, poem, Poetry, revenge, revolution, storms, taxes, Uncategorized, war, war tax resistance, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,