The violence inherent in the system

I tried to write something yesterday, after absorbing what had happened in Connecticut.  Several times I sat with the Add New Post page staring at me, but I just didn’t know what to say, what I wanted to say.  What is there to say?  Guns are bad.  Guns kill people.  People kill people, the NRA would argue.

Guns sure make it a lot easier.

But that’s trite, it’s bullshit really, when yesterday is considered.  I can’t even really consider it.  It’s so damn sad.

This morning, I woke next to my warm, loving husband.  I didn’t think about Connecticut, or guns, or the bleeping NRA, until he mentioned football, wondering when his Packers play on Sunday.  Football, huh!  I stayed away from the news for most of last week because the NFL has been a bastion of stupid violence, either with guns or alcohol.  I was up to my eyeteeth with stupidity and violence, so much violence inherent in the system.  Monty Python made a joke ages ago, as King Arthur rides up to some peasants in a field.  He addresses one as old woman, but the peasant informs him that he is a man, Dennis, and he’s thirty-eight, not old (although really, in King Arthur’s time, thirty-eight was probably fairly aged for peasants or kings).  Quickly the action turns silly; King Arthur tries to assert his rights as ruler, yet Dennis notes this is a self-governing commune.  Arthur gets angry, hauling Dennis from the ground.  Dennis yells that he’s being repressed (See how he’s repressing me?), then notes the violence inherent in the system.

My nation, the United States of America, is dying from the violence inherent in the system.

I couldn’t read any more about yesterday other than the basic facts, then one article in the LA Times about if this will change gun laws.  Then I moved on, trying to consider other issues.  I didn’t get very far, reading one more article, about this very theme; America is a turbulent, unhappy country.  It’s not just guns that caused yesterday’s massacre (even if they did make it so much easier to achieve what the killer wanted); it’s America’s thirst for violence.  Football fans decry the way the game is being made safer.  Talk shows ratchet up the noise; attack attack attack.  I never realize how violent a nation I lived in until I moved to Britain.  Violence was kept off TV until after the watershed, nine p.m.  Sex wasn’t the issue there, Janet Jackson’s nipple of no concern.  When I came back, I was appalled at how rough were the commercials during my beloved football; if they weren’t trying to sell me beer, they were forcing fights and bloodshed down my throat.

Adults watch football, okay.  So do little kids.

Two nights ago my husband put on the Thursday night football game, mostly out of habit.  The teams, Philadelphia and Cincinnati, didn’t interest us, and I picked up my book, Lonesome Dove, and read as the gridiron was trod.  Then I said to my husband that the recent tragedies involving football players had really dampened my enthusiasm.  Plus it’s getting hard to reconcile serious head trauma with a sport that I have loved and followed for thirty-one years.  Baseball appeals more, and not just because my team won the World Series.  Baseball is a gentler sport, also more demanding; one hundred sixty-two games spread over six months requires more of players’ attention.  I was just getting sick and tired of all the injury and death.  I am sick to death of death!

I write plenty about death, I won’t deny it.  I also write a lot about love.  No matter how bleak my plots get (and they get pretty damn bleak), love triumphs, love always wins.  1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13 is often read at weddings; it was read at my daughter’s just this past summer.  It is usually attributed as 1 Corinthians 13, but that last verse of the previous chapter really nails it: But eagerly desire the greater gifts.  And now I will show you the most excellent way.

That’s LOVE!  Not violence, guns, hatred.  Yes, a writer needs drama.  Cain killed his brother Abel, conflict from the biblical beginning.  But good grief, can’t we have evolved some since King Arthur strong-armed Dennis the peasant?  My faith demands I remain optimistic, that two thousand years ago love conquered evil by dying on a cross.  But for God’s sake (and I mean that just as I wrote it), can’t we move past the blood lust and fury, the need to be number 1 no matter the cost.  All the firearms in the world won’t keep anyone safe; little children weren’t even safe yesterday at school!  When Kasandra Perkins was killed, the NRA said she might have survived if she’d had a gun.  Are they going to say that about the five to ten year-olds who died?

(Stupid NRA…)

This is an anti-gun rant (in case you missed it); it’s also an I am sick and tired of all this honk-honking vent.  In Britain, drivers rarely honk their horns; it’s impolite.  My husband and I used to joke that when it did happen (maybe once a year), what was it with all this honk-honking?  It’s Christmastime, believe it or not, which exacerbates yesterday’s catastrophe.  But maybe, oh please God maybe, that such awful wretched violence occurred so close to when many all over the world celebrate the birth of a baby, maybe someone will take life and love into consideration.

Yesterday, writing about the writing, I didn’t think so.  I was pessimistic, pissed off, weary.  I had not one iota of expectation that anything in this nation would ever, ever change when it comes to guns.  Today?  Well, I’ve had a night’s sleep.  I thought about Monty Python and The Holy Grail.  I lay beside my beloved, who erases all my earthly woes.  Then I took a shower, ate some Grape Nuts, the violence inherent in the system floating through my brain.

Many things have changed during my life.  Some will never alter.  As a believer in Jesus Christ, I have to have hope.  Miracles happen.  Maybe, one day, the violence will cease to be.

18 thoughts on “The violence inherent in the system

    1. Anna Scott Graham Post author

      What a sobering list! As you well said, it’s a matter of values changing. For me, one of those issues is embracing compassion; weapons of any kind are the opposite of love. I too am so glad this is only a temporary place.

  1. Melissa Marsh

    It’s horrific – no two ways about it. I would suggest that it’s not a gun problem – but a spiritual problem. There is a spiritual war going on in this country, and it’s not going to be easy to fix. Secularism and moral relativism has sucked the notions of “good” and “evil” into an impossible quicksand.

    With all of this on the news – and little good reported to counteract it -it’s easy to think that the U.S. is like the wild west again. But the sad fact is, there are much more violent places in the world. I read an article in the Telegraph that the UK is actually the violence capital of Europe. No, it’s not gun violence, but other areas of violence. It’s here if you’re curious to read it:

    The U.S. definitely has a gun violence problem. This I will not dispute. But guns will always be here. I don’t see that ever changing. In fact, I also read where the UK is very high on the list of exporting arms. So really, there is no country that is better than the other. We all have our sins. We all have our faults. I just hate that the U.S. is blamed for everything sometimes (I’m not saying YOU are blaming the US, but believe me, over the past few days, I’ve seen a LOT of Europeans bad-mouthing the US and it’s upset me because they have a lot of problems, too).

    Remember, the media will report what is bad and they will make it seem like we are a nation mired in violence and sinking further and further every day. But there is so much GOOD in this country. THAT is what we must focus on. God is bigger than evil. God is more powerful than the destruction wreaked by Satan’s helpers. He WILL triumph over evil because he already has.

    When we quit giving these killers their fame, when we quit splashing their picture all over the news, when we quit interviewing the victims’ families and scrutinizing every last second of the tragedy, only then will we begin to make some headway. In my opinion, these people see this on the news and figure that they’ll get their attention in death where they didn’t in life, and it will result in copycat crimes.

    How can we combat this? By making our voices heard. By not increasing the web traffic to online news outlets. By not clicking on that video. By shutting off the t.v.

    Sorry this is long – it’s been a very hard few days, culminating in me sobbing on Sunday night because I didn’t want to send my daughter to school on Monday. In the end, I had to give her to God and pray for her safety. That is what we all must do, IMO.

    1. Anna Scott Graham Post author

      It has been a hard few days, and a rough few weeks in this nation, with the Portland mall shooting, the man in Florida who shot into a car full of teens, killing one, also the father who had just purchased a gun, then accidentally shot and killed his seven-year-old son right after leaving the store. My issue with guns is that they are too readily accessible, as well as the ferocity of the weapon. I come from a family of deer and duck hunters; that culture is different from what guns have become, and you are absolutely right about the low spiritual nature of this nation. Life seems to have lost its importance, we are numbed by violence on TV, in films, in video games that kids play. The desensitizing of America’s youth horrifies me.

      But that assault weapons are legal to buy equally mystifies. That young man in Connecticut caused untold mayhem with a rifle; why are even more dangerous weapons necessary for the general public? These are all questions that need to be faced; I don’t want to hinder someone’s right to hunt or protect themselves. I do wish to limit the wanton damage that occurs when rage spills into hands that can wield an item which has the capacity to unfurl widespread and irrevocable physical destruction. My brother took his life with a gun; perhaps I can’t truly be objectionable. Would he have as easily killed himself with a knife, rope, or drugs? I think a gun made it less difficult. That’s my issue; guns seem to make the taking of lives too easy and impersonal, and as a nation we seem to have accepted that. So much to ponder…

      1. Melissa Marsh

        IMO, you have to change the culture that surrounds the gun. It is a weapon, and in reality, it is an inanimate object. The thing is, how many stories do you hear of people hurting themselves/murder/etc. with weapons other than guns? A lot fewer compared to guns because they’re not sensational as a gun death is.

        The fact is, until you stop making the weapons themselves, there will not be a change. You can make all the laws in the world you want to -but as long as those weapons are being made – and if they are banned, a black market will spring up – those weapons will still be available. Maybe not as easy, but anyone who wants to get one will be able to do it, no matter how many hoops they have to jump through. That is the world we live in. I don’t see a world without weapons manufacturing changing.

        I read a report from the Secret Service last night that said these killers plan these events out for a long time. This is not a spur of the moment deal. This is not them waking up in the morning, going and getting a gun,and doing this mayhem. It’s methodical. The gun may be the easiest weapon – but if they want to do their mayhem, they will find a way. These gunmen are a lot like suicide bombers – they want death, and they want to take people with them when they do it. How do you combat that mentality? Bombs will invariably kill more than a lone gunman.

        The point I”m trying to make is this: there are no easy answers and reality bites. Getting rid of guns won’t work. Maybe making it really, really hard to get or taxing them to the point of absurdity will curb some of this. But bottom line: you can’t control crazy. You just can’t.

        I’m not a gun advocate. I don’t really like them, but they have been a part of the culture of the U.S. since the pilgrims came to shore. We have to change the mentality. We have to combat the reasons why we turn to guns in the first place – poverty, despair, etc., etc. We have to put the concept of a strong family unit back in place. We have to allow at least the option of God to be taught and let students decide for themselves instead of having God taken out altogether. I don’t know that this will ever happen.

        Also – I have had four suicides in my family, so I know how horrific it is and I am so very sorry you had to experience it with your brother. My two great-uncles used shotguns. My cousin’s husband used a gun. My great-grandmother used lye soap.

        These discussions about gun control and mental health and all the rest need to happen, absolutely, and we’re not all going to agree on the best method. That’s why at the end of the day, I just have to give it to God and be thankful that this is only a temporary home – and that in heaven, there is NO violence.

  2. wordsurfer

    Your writing really touched a raw spot inside me. When I heard about this incident over here in Germany, I turned on a news channel and told my sister about it and we watched for ten minutes, just enough to get the facts as we tried to get to grip with the shock. But when they started bringing up plans of the school, dissecting this bit of information, analyzing that bit of information, my sister (who’s currently working in a kindergarten) started crying and I think what set her off was not so much the fact itself (horrific though it was), but the cold, heartless and sensational way it was being reported, analyzed, taken apart, … No compassion, no respect, just sensation. We turned off the TV and I haven’t been able to read anything about it since. I just can’t stomach it.

    1. Anna Scott Graham Post author

      There are no ratings to be had in compassion and respect. Sensationalism makes it easier for this to not seep into hearts and affect the soul. But I have to believe (I have to believe) that somehow, someway love, kindness, gentleness, and empathy will triumph. I’m not sure how, but… Long, hopeful sigh.

  3. tchistorygal

    We are off track as a nation. This sort of thing doesn’t happen everywhere, but it could happen anywhere. That’s what makes it even worse. It’s not a war we can raise an army to fight. It’s not a group with a cause. It’s an individual gone astray. I’m not a Second Amendment advocate, or in active opposition of it either, but it does seem way too easy for people to get guns, and they go way too crazy with them. Everybody gets mad, and the feeling usually passes. If a gun is handy, and they use it, the anger will go away, but the world is forever altered for the worse. Thank you for taking the time to write about this tragic event. BTW, I got your name from Dianne Gray’s site. Very nice review you wrote as well. 🙂 Marsha

    1. Anna Scott Graham Post author

      Marsha, thanks for taking the time to read this post. 🙂

      You make wonderful points; violence isn’t only confined to big cities or obvious trouble spots. A very short fuse seems to rule, patience has become paper-thin. But why is that, what has happened to us as a nation to account for so much hostility and coldness? This tragedy is the result of so many factors, but that doesn’t begin to assuage those in pain, and I don’t know what comes next. Hopefully reflection will produce some change for good.

  4. diannegray

    Not being an American I cringe at what the once great nation has become. Don’t get me wrong – I’m sure there are a lot of beautiful people living in the US, but as an outsider I can tell you what the rest of the world sees on the news. To us the US seems to be filled with never ending reports of shootings and mindless street violence. Again – I’m sure this is not what the country is really like, but that’s what we hear. The school shooting was the most abhorrent act I’ve ever heard of and the entire world is in shock. God bless those children and their families. I don’t understand any of it and I’m sure I’m not alone…

    1. Anna Scott Graham Post author

      This nation has become numb to violence; insidiously it has permeated every facet, and I don’t know if we can rid ourselves of it without a terrific wrenching from nearly every outlet. I want to be an optimist, that things can change. I hope they will change, or the continued downward spiral will only grow more ugly, and incomprehensible.

      1. diannegray

        I lay in bed last night and worried about this comment I made. I didn’t mean for it to sound as if I was hammering the US. It just gets so frustrating when things like this happen and I really wish it would all just change because it seems like things are on a downward spiral for the entire country. But I guess the news has something to do with it as well – no one ever reports the wonderful and good things that happen there and I’m sure there are more of those than the bad things…

      2. Anna Scott Graham Post author

        I took no offense; living outside the US for eleven years provided me with fresh eyes. Just in the last three weeks there have been three other high-profile shootings, in addition to the football murder-suicide. Americans are numb to it, unless the circumstances are truly horrifying. The media does latch onto to the worst of it, but perhaps the better angels of our natures will prevail.

  5. Jill Weatherholt

    I also had to turn off the news coverage yesterday. Instead of reporting the heartbreaking incident and allowing us to pray for the victims and their families, the issue of gun control was forced upon us. I believe our nation should address the issue when our wounds aren’t as fresh. As for now, my heart is breaking for the children, but I do find peace knowing they are in the hands of Jesus.

  6. sarahsinklings

    I grieve with you my friend….. for those kids and their teachers….. for a country gone terribly off track in terms of teaching, sharing and living with compassion instead of competition, fear, and anger

    How sad


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