Another shooting. Three more needless deaths. Are you really surprised? Why?
Let's take a closer look at the causes by category. First, the value of life in the U.S. We live in a country where the value of life is based on the color of our skins. Where the very movement that carries the title, right to life, resists any formal government programs to assist that life after birth. Where one major political party insists guns aren't a national public health problem but pornography is. Where it is illegal to formally study gun violence but legal to carry a concealed weapon in every state. Where people are surprised that unstable rogue individuals kill the police, society's most obvious authority figures. Where every cop must approach every situation knowing he or she lives in a country with 300 million guns and very few limitations to ownership.
Then let's look at racism. We live in a country, where five percent of the world's population incarcerates 25 percent of the world's incarcerated people. Where the prison system is one of the fastest growing economies in the country. Where the war on drugs in the early seventies has increased imprisonments from approximately 200 per 100,000 people to around 900 per 100,000 people in 2014. Where 12 percent of the drug users are black and brown but constitute 60 percent of the people imprisoned for drug use. Where the majority of white people refuse to accept this fact as evidence for institutionalized racism.
Then, let's look at government. We live in a country, where the Congress earns a seven to nine percent approval rating and a 90 plus percent re-incumbency. Where the very officials elected to do the people's work, have abandoned the majority and pander to those who have an increasing share of the wealth, decade after decade. Where politicians use our tragedies to make political points with their loyal base and fan the flames of fear. Where more and more people succumb to a fearful frame of mind created and sold by a profit-oriented media and the owners who benefit from it. Where the richest country in the world can't maintain its infrastructure. Where we claim, we can't afford healthcare and education and spend over fifty-nine percent of our budget on the military. Where the two apparent candidates for the presidency have 70 and 60 percent disapproval ratings respectively.
But"but" we're the most religious of all modern nations. We live in a country where Christians who constitute 73 percent of the population complain of being threatened while the entire mainline culture is based on Christian traditions and holidays. Where no churches lose their tax-free status for involving themselves in politics in a nation that was founded on the separation of church and state. Where religion separates rather than unites. Where the most fervent believers insist on their right to discriminate in the name of their religious mythologies.
How about our businesses? We live in a country, where cash-rich corporations pay less and less of the tax load while the poor and middle class pay more. Where the drive for more and more profit has driven most jobs with living wages offshore. Where people who've lost those jobs blame their plight on immigrants and support the political party that guarantees more of the same.
We see these tragic events as single actions committed by individuals and fail to see the dynamics of a system that spawns them. Now some will scream "the perp is personally responsible for his actions," "the cops are too." And I agree! But to act as though all those systemic factors don't affect an individual's behavior is to assure that we'll keep seeing these horrific events unfold unabated in the future.
These are the unavoidable effects of a system that glorifies the individual over society. A society that creates the person who commits these horrific crimes. Their presence should be no surprise. We mint them in abundance. They come in all colors and sizes. Some, like the latest, call themselves sovereign citizens. To me, it sounds like the last refuge of the disenfranchised, the impotent, who can no longer tolerate their lives in a society they believe is hell-bent to destroy them -- and they're not very far off.
But in reality, none of us live in a vacuum. We are all victimized by the events that envelop us. Fortunately, as opposed to those outliers, the loners, the majority of us will shed the toxic sludge around us -- if we have the personal constitution and the support systems to help. Not everyone has as we can plainly see.
Unfortunately, any society that ignores the sickest, weakest and most vulnerable it creates will eventually be forced to deal with the results of its own ignorance. React to me however you want, but please don't act surprised.