8/7/09

Yet Another Random Killing

Once in the early 90’s I caught a taxi from LaGuardia into New York City. The taxi driver was from Ethiopia, Bangladesh or some another country whose refugees were flooding the city and taking jobs as drivers. Prominent in the news was another random violent attack. At that time “drive-by killings” was a relatively new coinage. Since then we have suffered Columbine, Virginia Tech, the most memorable among numerous such random killings. The driver said that what was preferable about living in a war zone was that you understood the rules of war. You knew what to expect. I’ve pondered his words often since then, especially with the recent killing of women in the gym in Pittsburgh. Living in a country besieged by random violence carries with it a different kind of anxiety than living in a war zone. And because there is no apparent reason for the violence it is more difficult to make sense of it, to put it in an historical or familial context.

6 comments:

Alice said...

random acts of violence contribute to an overall sense of vulnerability and hopelessness amongst the populace. It seems likely that perpetrators of these acts are suffering from untreated mental illness; a good indicator of the lack of humanity in our social structure.

Anonymous said...

i wonder if "random" is really the right word...
daily we are being sprayed with who knows what, the low frequency radio waves, cell phones, satellites, weather manipulation, chips in everything.....
is it possible humans are now short circuiting?
after all, aren't we energy too?

the rules of war...

Anonymous said...

Hi Joy,

Thanks for that story. I was thinking a similar thing today, that maybe we in the US have the whole concept of "child abuse" wrong. In rural West Africa where I went there was a woman whose mother had scarred her with boiling water once--but she was otherwise happy, confident , self-assured, just like the other women of hte village (and probably stronger than most American men too) and it was a strange contrast. The children were all so alive.

I think the fact is it's not about the material, visible world. People keep saying, "They have nothing, yet they're grateful for what little they have," implying that we who have more ought to be ashsamed of being so unhappy. But we don't have more, we have less, they're the rich ones, and enough research is in showing that material gratification beyond survival needs just doesn't correlate to happiness. Equality or equitability do, but not amount. Similarly, they hit their children there once in a while, and the children are used to a lot more physical pain from scrapes and falls and sandals without arch support and hard work in the fields, but they wouldn't last a day on a playground in America because they don't know the first thing about cruelty. Not a clue, couldn't understand when a white kid from our group picked a fight with them and injured himself, they were totally freaked out for his sanity and just stood around in a circle wondering if he was OK. They're so lucky.

I read a passage from my novel, about an American witnessing this and weeping, to people in NYC here and they got it, and it was the first time most of them realized how much America hates its children.

The concepts "peaceful first-world country" and "war zone" are a left-brain descriptors; the felt sense of these two states cuts deeper.

Thanks for sharing that driver's astute analysis.

Peace,

Joshua

Anonymous said...

There seems to be so many angry people in our society--so much anger. All of the recent news about the angry protestors at town hall meetings and about the sick actions of Blackwater/XE are more reminders of this anger. It is terrible how these people feel justified in acting out their anger on others. Frightening.

Peace,
Stephanie E.

Glenn Buttkus said...

I kept a handgun by my bed for several years, being fearful for my children in their schools, being fearful about being plugged
while commuting to work by some
drugged up gang bangers, or gang wannabes, or giving a glance to some 13 year old kid with his pants down around his knees, and that glance being disrespectful, and so I would be the recipient of some caps in my ass. But then one
day I took the handgun, that my wife and daughters feared having around, and I sold it. Fear can be
a hype, and it can rule our lives,
if we let it. Whatever happens to us in life was/is probably going to happen whether we are fearful about it or not. I work for the government, as a special ed teacher, and often we wonder if some nutjob is not going to step into our office, our clinic, and start pumping bullets in all directions.

Glenn

Penina said...

I've been watching the PBS documentary - Playing for Change. Sunday I danced in my apartment alone - to the entire CD. My dancing is deeply spiritual, prayerful. I too can sense the violence, the madness, the warfare that seems to be rooted from some kind of propaganda hatred of one group against another group. Guns are so easily available and we are not safe. I live in a city where children shoot each other, in a city where leadership is indifferent to children shooting each other, which makes children indifferent to violence. I live in a state where funding is being cut for recess, play, sports, music, art, but the there is funding for ROTC. I dance for my own sanity, for my big heart to stay strong so that my soul and my heart can become a spiritual weapon, a good vibration until I become like the music, the choir of voices singing for no more war, the medicine is there for us, we can all become the force for mending the broken…but the mending has to begin inside or with a group of kindred spirits sharing song...prayer is a force too.