Had enough massacres yet?

People at the Pearly Gates, noting NRA doesn’t allow for gun violence research. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. Author: Jmaaks.

First of all, perhaps we should stop harping on “gun control.” The hard-core right-wing NRA devotees will never stop fighting all kinds of control. That’s a dirty word to millions. It’s in their bible: “Don’t you dare try to control me you weak-kneed, government-pandering, lily-livered mother-lovers.”

It just doesn’t matter to them how many children are accidentally shot by their parents or each other  or wives by their husbands, or even …. men and women by their dogs.

Accidents happen, they pontificate.

What is important to these don’t-try-to-control-me-my-gun-is-my-life devotees is their freedom—their freedom to bully, to threaten, and to “defend” themselves against all the threats, known and unknown, that seem to lurk everywhere. You know, the freedom they are sacrificing every time they let some smooth-talking, race-baiting, fear-promoting tyrant tell them whom to fear and whom to hate, and what to do to feel better.

If we want to get real freedom from fear and danger, maybe we can start with an alternative term for “gun control.”

“Gun reform” probably appeals to a lot of progressives, but “reform” is sure to sound leftish to the hard-lined be-ready-to-kill-anybody-if-they-look-at-you-wrong advocates.   Not to mention its association with schools for delinquents.

Maybe we should talk about “gun sanity.” Maybe a gun sanity movement can remind people that nobody is perfect, that even gun-lovers who advocate gun-safety can end up accidentally shooting themselves.

Better yet, how about “gun sense”? or “gunsense”? Sounds like a no-nonsense expression, linked to commonsense, which should appeal to everyone.

And, actually, there is a grassroots gun sense movement emerging within several states, including Texas , Georgia , and Vermont , a movement that may succeed in promoting sanity at local levels while the U.S. government waffles under the control of the NRA.

Plus there are a whole lot of moms around the country demanding action against gun violence and who can argue against the power of moms?

For those who believe the nay-sayers claiming that you can’t legislate morality or even do anything to reduce violence, check out this study And this one

and think about what you can do to promote sanity, commonsense, and gunsense.

 

Posted in culture of violence, gun violence, Understanding violence, Weaponry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Reflections on the Orlando Massacre: The Hate-Violence-Hate Cycle and Beyond

The Hate-Violence-Hate Cycle

by Dr. Anthony J. Marsella

 Hate begets violence begets hate! An endless descent into destruction, all under the guise of justification. 

 The hate-violence-hate cycle is hard wired and soft wired; but it is wired, and becomes reflexive. 

 How do we stop it?  Ask: Do we have a right to hate? Is hate a privilege? Is hate a choice? 

If it is a choice, then what sustains and promotes it, nurturing it in an endless cycle of violence, stoking its increase and generalization.

 No mysteries here? Why all the bewilderment? 

 We use the word hate with impunity, hating anything we wish as if it is good to hate. And when it becomes generalized, we fail to stop it. We enjoy hating! 

 Consider the endless targets now popular: I hate broccoli; I hate the New York Yankees; I hate ….. Name your hates!  It is a pernicious pleasure to hate. It establishes presence, it confirms identity, it asserts distinction. 

 Orlando was not the largest killing of innocent people, only seeking to live free of hate and violence. 

 Why are we surprised? 

 Did we forget Wounded  Knee, or a thousand others places and times? 

Let us not forget all those instances of aggression by our leaders.  But let us all remember that there are alternatives.  Peruse the chart below for some inspiration on socializing a culture of peace. Let’s do less hating and more loving right now, right here at home.

chart

Anthony Marsella, Ph.D., a  member of the TRANSCEND Network, is a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii, and past director of the World Health Organization Psychiatric Research Center in Honolulu. He is known nationally and internationally as a pioneer figure in the study of culture and psychopathology who challenged the ethnocentrism and racial biases of many assumptions, theories, and practices in psychology and psychiatry. In more recent years, he has been writing and lecturing on peace and social justice. He has published 15 edited books, and more than 250 articles, chapters, book reviews, and popular pieces. He can be reached at marsella@hawaii.edu.

Posted in culture of violence, Nonviolence, racism, Reconciliation and healing, Understanding violence | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Forgotten People ©

Human Lives . . .

by guest author Anthony J. Marsella, PhD

San Joaquin Valley, California. Children of migrant agricultural workers.  April, 1940.
Image is in the public domain.

Recently, as I read the daily news from different I-phone app news’ sources, I came across a posting on several sites, about an accident in Florida. An old bus, driving agricultural workers south to work in fields, had crashed into a semi-trailer in Florida. Five passengers were killed; 25 were injured. It was a horrible sight.

The bus, built in 1979, had run a red light, failed to stop, and crashed into the passenger side of a large semi with full force, bursting both vehicles into flames. And as a seemingly final offense and indignity to life, the vehicles were caught beneath electrical power lines, making it impossible to save any caught in the bus. None of the passengers who survived spoke English. They were Haitian.

The bus was headed toward Belle Glade, Florida, described by Pastor Frantz Gaudard, of the First Haitian Community Church, as a haven for Haitian migrant workers. The driver of the bus, 56 years old Haitian, Elie Dupiche,   survived, but is in critical condition. The driver of the semi, 55 year old Gordon Sheets, from New York State, died.

One more traffic accident; one more headline of deaths and injuries on our roads. Daily fare now! But what sealed my mind about this accident, this human tragedy, was the anonymity of death. True, many victims will be known and remembered to those whose lives were connected — grieving spouses, crying children, perhaps distant cousins and aunts living thousands of miles away.  Yet still: “Forgotten People!”

The passengers on the aged bus were migrant Haitian farm workers, many unknown to each other; possibly undocumented workers who had braved ocean waters in leaking boats, hoping to find work and a new life. Hope!

The migrant Haitian farm workers cut sugar cane in northern states between October and May. They were headed to Florida to work in corn fields, dozing, staring out dirty windows, oblivious to their date with destiny. In their minds, the journey was part of survival: work and meager pay. Now life for 25, ending in a fiery death, posted on news apps: “Forgotten People!”

Yes, I know my words can be answered by scores claiming they are not forgotten: relatives, friends, even distant relations in Haiti, all sharing the sadness and grief.  Tears, sobs, screams of anguish, at the deaths and struggle for survival . . . for dignity in a world easily forgetting lives lived and lost. It is commonplace! It is reflexive.  For “Forgotten People,” it is a tragic story as life continues, caught in yet more tragedies and sorrow.

I Could Not Forget . . . !

My attention to the news story could not pass to the next posting. Images of the events remained with me: my senses now continuing to see the crash, hear the screams, and smell the burning flesh. I tried to move to the next postings, concerned with salaries of athletes, celebrity divorces, exposes of politicians currying favor from other politicians and from news’ reporters, and more deaths from bombing and drones across the world.

The next postings, endless daily fare, a gift of the internet linking us to the world beyond our doorways: events, forces, changes, people and the intertwining of all of them. At some point, the mind begins to habituate to the stories, and also seeks to make sense of the collection; a gruesome potpourri punctuated by seemingly ludicrous and insulting events.

We are now, more than ever before in history connected to everyone and everything! Too often, in the process, we become passive overloaded carriers of information, dulled now by the amount, immune now to the carnage, choosing to sigh in disbelief, and to move on to the next story or the tasks of our day.

“Forgotten People . . .”

In the minutes following my reading the posting, my mind wandered to a score of associations.  How many other “Forgotten People” are there across our land and the world?  Lives lived with little promise of hope, comforted often by religious beliefs in salvation, and a better place.

I imagined a graphic display as testimony to their lives. Nothing promising a better life, nor redemption, but only a display, perhaps like a granite tombstone, enduring as long as someone noticed and observed and understood.  How inadequate!  How insufficient! How sullied even amidst good intentions. All stained by the continued existence of “Forgotten People.”

FORGOTTEN PEOPLE
Human Lives Lived Amid Suffering and Deprivation

Forgotten People2

 

What can be said?  What can be done?  Has not human life, and the lives of all animals, insects, and ocean creatures always existed, only to be forgotten, save those whose acts bring memory? Is this the course of evolution? Is it part of human nature to focus on the now, on our survival, feeling fortunate we are not in the path of being forgotten?  Of being anonymous! Will we one day honor and remember robots?

And as human population grows and grows, what promises can there be of salvation identity, and safety, security, survival? What promises of escape from poverty, exploitation, wars, abuses of person and race, gender, tribe, and chance events of accidents? None! We are, all of us, alive. Privileged with the gift of life, and yet subject to its offenses and abuses.

Perhaps only through recognizing our common humanity and our shared life impulse can the sorrows and struggles of many be reduced or limited.  May “Forgotten People” be acknowledged, remembered, attended to by those escaping the indignities and humiliations of those who fortunes have placed them out of harm’s way!

I can hear cynics asking me: “What do you want me to do? Cry for the world?”  My answer is “yes!”

Anthony J. Marsella, Ph.D            

Anthony Marsella, Ph.D., a  member of the TRANSCEND Network, is a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii, and past director of the World Health Organization Psychiatric Research Center in Honolulu. He is known nationally and internationally as a pioneer figure in the study of culture and psychopathology who challenged the ethnocentrism and racial biases of many assumptions, theories, and practices in psychology and psychiatry. In more recent years, he has been writing and lecturing on peace and social justice. He has published 15 edited books, and more than 250 articles, chapters, book reviews, and popular pieces. He can be reached at marsella@hawaii.edu.

 

 

Posted in Media, Poverty, slavery | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Self-evident or reserved for the power elite? Part 2.

Fourth of July fireworks seen across the Potomac River at Washington, D.C., USA, July 4, 2011. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Author: Joe Ravi. license CC-BY-SA 3.0 .

by Kathie Malley-Morrison

For our July 4, 2016, post, we asked whether Americans have honored and promulgated the principles stated in our Declaration of Independence. Our answer: Not unless it suited the interests of the ruling powers within the nation to do so. Which is, relatively speaking, almost never.

The grievous failure of successive US governments to promote life and liberty (let alone the pursuit of happiness) is appalling not only in relation to their tolerance of slavery (officially “legal” in this country until the Emancipation Proclamation, illegal but continuing in various forms ever since) but also in their violent opposition to such pursuits in peoples trying to overthrow vicious and unjust governments elsewhere.

The failures to support liberation movements are numerous but here are two ignominious examples that at least some Americans know about:

The Philippines  Over 100 years ago, the United States replaced Spain as the foreign power occupying the Philippines. American forces went to the Philippines in 1898 purportedly to help Filipino rebels achieve independence from the yoke of imperial Spain; instead, the US government, pursuing its own imperialistic goals, initiated a vicious war against the rebels, took over control of the Philippines, and occupied the islands for decades, not until July 4, 1946, did it finally recognize Philippines independence.

Vietnam: Over 50 years ago, the United States replaced France as the imperialistic power occupying Vietnam, purportedly to save “South Vietnam” from the “ruthless Communists” of “North Vietnam” (the  Vietminh).  A lot of good books and articles have been written concerning this particular crushing of an indigenous people’s efforts to gain liberty and justice from foreign occupiers, but Noam Chomsky summarizes it well in this interview with Paul Shannon.

To understand what all those fireworks on the Fourth of July really signify, just check out this Global Policy Forum summary of US military activity since, in the course of events,  the early colonialists declared their independence from Great Britain. Perhaps it is time for the US to pursue a new path, truly honoring life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness with a new holiday and a new symbol (Flag of Peace (Proposal).  Author: Julius C. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Flag_of_Peace_(Proposal).PNG).)

 

Posted in colonialism, culture of violence, Democracy, Genocide, Human rights, Patriotism, Protest, racism, slavery, Understanding violence | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment