Baseball, Apple Pie, and Violence Baked into America’s Legacy

If you start a country by killing, stealing, and victimizing people, it’s not surprising that your cultural DNA is made up of killing, stealing, and victimizing people.

Baseball, Apple Pie, and Violence
Baked into America’s Legacy
Photo by Mwesigwa Joel on Unsplash

Every time I hear about children killed while attending school, every time I see photos of average citizens (not law enforcement), proudly carrying weapons of war into supermarkets; I think what a sick, f****d up country this is.

I’m so tired of crying for people I’ll never know but horrific tragedy has placed their changed families into my heart. This is senseless and evil, but the tools of violence continue to garner political support.

An “eye for an eye” brings little comfort because killing killers doesn’t make things better. The violence we see, is the violence we are.

To put it bluntly, if you start a country by killing, stealing, and victimizing people, it’s not surprising that your cultural DNA is made up of killing, stealing, and victimizing people.

Violence is America’s brand and has been throughout history. From the violent colonial occupation and genocide of Indigenous Peoples, to building an economy on the barbarism of slave labor, the ramifications of this culture of violence are sustained today.

Truth may be a bitter pill for some, but the truth is we cannot look back to non-violent times in this country----no such thing. Remember public lynching, women burned at the stake, hangings, and gang violence with origins as far back as the 1700s. The fabled peaceful America is a myth. Human acts of unkindness have poured blood and tears into our soil, and unless we change our collective ways and values, it will never end.

The daughter of late Sandy Hook Principal, Dawn Hochsprung said she thought the Sandy Hook tragedy was going to be the turning point for this country. Her mother was among the six educators and 20 children hunted and killed in classrooms, hallways, and bathrooms at Sandy Hook Elementary.

The Sandy Hook Promise is a non-profit organization led by families who lost loved ones in that massacre. The statistics they’ve gathered are alarming:

• Every day in these United States 12 children die from gun violence, more than 30 are shot and injured. Guns are the leading source of death among American children and teens.
• An estimated 4.6 million American children live in a home where at least one gun is kept loaded and unlocked.
• The U.S. has had 2,032 school shootings since 1970.

But the most egregious number is this one: In four out of five school shootings, at least one other person had knowledge of the attacker’s plan but failed to report it. Most school shooters planned their attacks in advance.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations defines signposts in its threat assessments. FBI experts say that in general, people do not switch instantly from nonviolence to violence. Nonviolent people do not "snap" or decide on the spur of the moment to meet a problem by using violence. Instead, the path toward violence is an evolutionary one, with signposts along the way. A threat is one observable behavior; others may be brooding about frustration or disappointment, fantasies of destruction or revenge, in conversations, writings, drawings, and other actions.

Most shooters (77%) spent a week or more planning their attacks, and during that time exhibited some of those observable behaviors. More than half of the shooters discussed the idea of committing a violent act with someone else. Why these people don’t report the concerning behavior is beyond me.

A report in 2018 by the Switzerland-based Small Arms Survey, called out the United States as having less than 5 percent of the world’s population, but representing 46 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns. Our country ranks number one in firearms per capita. The United States also has the highest homicide-by-firearm rate of the world’s most-developed nations. And these firearms are within the reach of school shooters.

The suspect in the Robb Elementary School shootings in Uvalde, Texas reportedly bought his military-style rifles shortly after his 18th birthday. Lax gun control laws in Texas allowed for this purchase.

How can we have over-regulation of some industries and practices in this nation, while under-regulating others?

Lost in all this is the will of the people. Most Americans want laws limiting access to firearms. But the voice of the majority is often unheard in the United States because we don’t have a direct democracy. The power to make laws lies in the hands of elected representatives in Congress and the disproportionate representation of states in the Senate. Each state gets two senators despite the size of its population.

Think of all the laws created to directly address problems in this country. Now think of those legislators---mostly Republican---who won’t even comment on this life and death issue. Some of them offer impotent suggestions such as fortifying schools (locked classrooms kept victims in and police out at Robb Elementary); and they debate the numbers of doors at schools as solutions while ignoring suggestions to limit access or regulate the availability of firearms.

In one of the most heinous displays of disregard for human life, Donald Trump and Senator Ted Cruz rallied against gun control at a National Rifle Association event days after the Uvalde shooting. They spoke at the NRAs “celebration of Second Amendment rights,” held in Houston, Texas three days after the 18-year-old shooter opened fire at Robb Elementary School with an AR-15-style long rifle that he purchased legally.

Sadly, we must wonder if the American system is too tainted with hatred, evil, greed, and indecency for a culture change. It seems the good we produce is overshadowed by the terrorism we support either proactively or passively.

America is like a land of many nations. I used to believe we were divided by political affiliation or leanings, but now I think it’s more than that. Increasingly the divisions in this country appear to be between those who value all lives, and those who don’t. Tragically, they carry an indecent disregard for anyone they count as “others.” And ironically, they also tolerate the losses of a few of their own to remain committed to something I will never understand…. the creation of selective liberty, injustice, and opportunities to maim and kill for all.

Government is an association of men who do violence to the rest of us.
~~ Leo Tolstoy
Myra Jolivet is a storyteller. First a TV news anchor and reporter. Then came PR work and consulting. That's where she is today - banging her head against the wall - trying to help CEOs and political candidates tell their stories well. Myra writes a series of murder mysteries She was a kid with an imaginary friend. That says it all.