When I was in high school, the thought of a teenager coming to school with an automatic weapon and opening fire on his fellow students did not seem very realistic. Even though we had students in my class with obvious mental health issues, no one exhibited the sort of out-of-control violent behavior that has almost become the norm in America.
In the 1960s, a new culture tried to emerge, one that represented a turn away from violence, but sadly that culture was so ridiculed and despised by the mainstream that it was quickly co-opted and practically erased off the earth. Ask any teenager today what he thinks of “hippies” and the answer is not likely to be very complimentary.
Meanwhile, the amount of violence pornography in our culture continues to accelerate. Just turn on any TV on any night and check out what movies are available. The overwhelming majority will be filled with gunshots, graphic beatings and senseless deaths. There’s so much violence in mainstream culture that I can hardly stand to watch TV anymore since I have little interest in watching violence pornography.
Can you imagine the sort of world we’d be living in if the hippie culture had actually been celebrated and respected by mass media? Instead, the media taught our children that hippies were dumb, dirty, shiftless and lazy. Not to mention addicted to illegal drugs. Meanwhile, half the country is now addicted to pills that create mania for about 10% of users. Mania leads to psychosis. And psychosis leads to paranoia. Paranoia can lead to violence. That’s why I say we have created “a perfect storm” by allowing guns for all and pills for all. Don’t expect this situation to improve anytime soon.
I have some suggestions for how to deal with the situation, if anyone cares to listen. First, non-violence needs to attain the same level of respect in our society that violence currently holds. Many people’s reaction to the recent shooting in Colorado is to arm themselves, as if carrying a concealed pistol would protect you when your assailant is dressed in full-body armor and carries an automatic rifle? Putting more guns in the hands of inexperienced users will likely just get you more deaths and you can’t fight violence with more violence since all that does is keep the cycle moving endlessly.
Obviously, we need to eliminate the gun show loophole. But more than that, if you’re going to be taking SSRI’s, or similar mental health medications, you should surrender your lethal weapons. In fact, any patient experiencing mental health issues who is given a prescription for a mental health medication should not be allowed to bear arms. That also goes for anyone who has been admitted to a psyche ward.
I’d also recommend gun owners not be allowed access to lethal bullets. Let them buy paint pellets or rubber bullets for their target practice. The only people that need lead bullets are the people who are killing animals and people. Unless you have a good reason for possessing lethal bullets, you shouldn’t be allowed to buy them, and possession of illegal lethal bullets should be a serious crime. In order to get a permit for lethal bullets, citizens should be required to pass a course in gun safety.
But mainly, we need more ceremonies of peace and more respect for peace culture in society. Almost all our major ceremonies (like the Super Bowl) are celebrations of warrior culture. I respect warrior culture, and it certainly exists for a good reason. But we have lost our balance and gone overboard with warrior worship. The peace people also need to be respected. And right now, that isn’t really happening.
So bring back the non-violent culture of the 1960s. It’s been nearly 50 years since that alternative to mainstream society’s values appeared, and its about time for that culture to make another run at transforming society.