Harvard Square Observer: A Violent Society

Ernest Cassara


I’ve often thought that government is the “great teacher.”  In the case of the U.S. government, it begets violent children.  In the present time, President Bush and company are fighting a preemptive war, at the same time threatening assorted folks across the world.

So, is it any wonder that we see outbreaks of violence at Columbine, an Amish school house, and many other places in between?   Folks choose violence as a solution to their problems, because of the example set by the “great teacher.”

Although there have been administrations in the past that have taught by bad example, the present one is particularly pugnacious.  Iraq is the most obvious example.  We - the U. S. A - have destroyed an ancient civilization.  If some respond that Mr. Hussein was a monster, maybe so, but he was one of many. Is it the business of our country to interfere in other people’s affairs? 

On the other hand, America could teach a positive lesson, by example.  There was a time when this was true, but, no longer.  George W. Bush is despised by much of the world.  Ah, for the good old days, when our Declaration of Independence - “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” - inspired folks throughout the world, new nations, coming into being, emulating our Thomas Jefferson.

If our kids see us, as a nation, killing as a means to solving problems, then why not they?

This attitude is exacerbated by the folks among us - one is tempted to refer to them as “gun nuts” - who just make the situation worse.  Their distortion of the Second Amendment is obvious to anyone who can read.  “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Obviously the product of the time when, it was hoped, the U.S. would not require a standing army, but, as it also turned out, individual state militias (“national guards”).

Society is awash in guns.  Not only in actuality, but just take a look at the ads one sees on television. The coming attractions, whether of TV programs or movies, feature guns, guns, guns. Killings, killings, killings.

I’ve always enjoyed our stays in Britain.  Strolling along the street, one sees Bobbies, as they are charmingly referred to, patrolling the streets, helping passersby with directions, etc.  Unarmed, except for a billy club.

Now, Britain is  infected.  There are now armed squads among the police.  The IRA, of course, was part of the reason for introduction of such, and, now, attacks that have occurred in the underground (we call it the subway) and, even, on a bus.

But, when some serious violence with handguns occurred, the government took the sensible step of banning handguns.  Ah, if our legislators had the guts to do the same!



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Harvard Square Commentary, October 30, 2006