It seems appropriate to address the issue of community violence since we’re seeing random acts of violence increasing at such an alarming rate. It seems we barely get past one last violent massacre before we’re on to the next one. Everyone’s asking the same question: what’s going on?
A lot of the discussion is about guns and the need for gun control, and rightly so. Much of this would be happening if guns weren’t so accessible and if we didn’t see so much gun violence on television and other media. I have to believe, however, that there’s more going on here than just exposure to gun violence and easy access to guns. Gun violence is becoming more commonplace but not everyone is going out and shooting up movie theaters or bombing marathons.
The attached article provides a strong argument that what what’s happening is that we’ve lost our sense of connection to others, which allows us feelings of belonging and respect. It discusses the basic survival instinct and describes that when an animal is attacked it does everything it needs to escape but then shakes the threat off and returns to its herd.
The article then goes on to say that the biggest threat humans have is of fear itself, and a lot our fear is about losing our dignity or our ability to be effective in a world of increasing inequality. The more people are unable to get their basic needs met, the more they feel threatened, which causes their survival instincts to kick in and often leads to violence.
I think it’s true that the more inequality increases, the more people feel threatened and lash out. The other thing that strikes me about this survival scenario, though, is how alienated we are from each other in general. For humans there isn’t much of a herd to return to anymore. We’re so much on our own and so isolated. Social media, which has allowed us to reconnect with all sorts of people that we may have lost track of, and potentially stay “connected” with hundreds of people is a part of the problem. With our improved technology we no longer need to talk to people face to face or voice to voice. The more we can text, post, or message people the less we need to actually be with them.
Honestly, I don’t know how we’re going to get basic resources back in the hands of the 97% so that we live in a healthier environment, but I do know that we can all do our part to improve our basic connections with the people we know. So my advice for anyone that wants to do their part to make a healthier social environment is to get off Facebook and Twitter, slow down the texting, and make plans to get together with someone you haven’t seen or talked to in a while. The more we facilitate real and genuine connections the less alienated and isolated we will be, and maybe in some small way it will start to spill over into the larger environment. http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/could-our-deepest-fears-hold-key-ending-violence