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When the War Comes Home

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by Jill Dalton



Our country's rocked by yet another mass shooting this time in Newtown, Connecticut.  This time a 20-year-old kid, Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother, Nancy Lanza, in their home then drove to Sandy Hook Elementary school where he killed six adults including the principal and 20 children before killing himself.

This time three weapons were found in the car: a .223 caliber "Bushmaster" rifle and two pistols, a Sig Sauer and a Glock.  Adam's mother, Nancy Lanza, a gun enthusiast who'd taken both her children to the rifle range to learn how to shoot, legally owned all these guns.

Image by Shepard Fairey                    

 This shooting, one of the deadliest in U.S. history, is second only to the rampage that killed 32 students at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA. This in a country where just five months earlier another gunman killed 12 in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo.,

I'm always amazed when Americans express their shock at yet another mass shooting when we live in a culture awash in violence.  In fact, we glorify violence.  It's produced, packaged and promoted by Hollywood, television and video games.   We live in a country where we shoot first and ask questions later or not at all.  The NRA drafted the "stand your ground" law, which caused the senseless murder of Travon Martin, and this Neanderthal law has been enacted in 25 states.  We live in a culture where our government no longer negotiates to solve issues with other nations but instead uses preemptive illegal wars and we now find ourselves residing in a state of permanent war.

 We have a president who offers his condolences to the families, sheds a few tears over the loss as he reassures us, "Our hearts are broken today." and promises "meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this."  Then turns around and picks from his "kill list" who he'll assassinate without due process via remote control by sending out one of his many drones of empire to track down and murder brown people, which sometimes results in "collateral damage" (the slaughter of innocent civilians including women and children). 

 I ask myself what's the difference between these mass shootings and murdering children in the Middle East?  Let's be honest, we have a president who condones and carries out violence everyday and the American people make not so much as a peep about this.  Our racism runs so deep it's become an acceptable norm.

 The paradox of the American psyche allows us to grieve over these white children while ignoring the brown ones in the Middle East.  I'm amazed at how good Americans are at denial and sticking our collective heads in the sand as we perpetrate violence against our own children by ignoring 16 million who live in poverty and go to sleep hungry and even homeless every night.  We have one of the highest child poverty rates in the world. 

 We're somehow able to compartmentalize these situations in order to rationalize our atrocities.  This is what comes with a corporate culture now devoid of any real empathy for others.  If these were poor black children in New Orleans instead of white kids from Connecticut would our outcry be so loud?  It certainly wasn't during Katrina.  We allowed people to rot in the heat and toxic waters for days without any help.

 Racism is so embedded into our collective unconscience we can't even make the connection and, in fact, many are incensed when the comparison is even suggested. 

 And even when presented with the facts, like lemmings to the sea, the people proclaim, "They hate us for our freedoms."  No, actually they hate us for our hypocrisy.  They hate us for pretending to promote democracy when, in fact, we support and install dictatorships (i.e. Shaw of Iran) around the world and we're not fighting terrorism so much as creating more of it as we struggle to steal their resources while simultaneously bankrupting ourselves.

 People will go to great lengths to protect their worldview and if that worldview believes the U.S. are the good guys -- the protectors of the world, despite facts to the contrary, than anything that challenges that belief, albeit how distorted that worldview is, will be met with huge resistance and hostility.


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Jill Dalton is a recovering army brat/writer/performer/activist who has appeared in film and television as well as performing her solo plays in New York and around the country. Most recently she can be seen in and consulted for William Hurt on the (more...)
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