America is a violent place. But I don’t mean the much-discussed shootings – which are both sporadic and incidental. No, the real violence is invisible because it is all around us – routinized and legalized to such an extent that most of us hardly take notice of it anymore. But nonetheless, it has corroded our souls – and some of these souls lash out in ways that differ from the acceptable way – that is, via the ballot box – but which when you stop to think about it express the same ugly ethics: Other people’s lives are my playthings. And, expendable.
Are you any less a victim if you are murdered by an Adam Lanza – or the thug scrum sent by the government to do exactly the same thing? If anything, Lanza’s motives were purer, more honest. He cut to the chase without all the intermediate folderol. Such as “you owe” letters from the county (or federal) tax thugs. In both cases, aggressive violence against peaceful people is the common thread.
The only difference is the preliminaries.
My statement will chafe in some quarters precisely because of the near-totality of the conditioning of this country’s people to the idea of acceptable aggressive violence. It is considered – by most people – perfectly ok to restrict the liberty of another human being or deprive him of his property so that it may be given to others . . . via the ethical alchemy of the ballot box. Hey, presto! Theft and extortion become taxes, “paying your fair share.” Kidnapping at gunpoint becomes “arrest” – and your execution (if you attempt to defend yourself) resisting arrest.
All nice and lawful.
Process does not obviate the violence – it merely masks it. Makes it palatable by evasion – in much the way that sauces were originally invented as a way to cover up the taste of spoiled food. But the rot remains – and it poisons all who partake of it.
Expecting people pickled in authorized, legalized violence since childhood to not occasionally become overtly violent themselves is probably expecting too much. The ethical line has already been thoroughly trampled. Surely, it is no coincidence that as American society and thus, American government, grows ever more predatory – internally as well as externally – violent lashings out by ordinary people become ever-more-commonplace.
Monkey see – monkey do.
Children are raised up in a society that is now openly contemptuous of the right of peaceful individuals to simply be left in peace, to not be told what to do in every last detail – or else – by others with guns and the apparatus of the state behind them. In which quite literally nothing is not – in principle and thus potential – on the table and up for a vote. They learn the forms and methods of democracy early on – drinking deeply of the soul-poison that a “majority” having voted may do as it wishes to anyone.
They are also taught the necessary corollary: That absolute submission to authority in every last detail is the duty of every individual. But here is where it gets interesting: They come to understand that they can be the ones exercising this authority. This power.
This lawful violence.
All they have to do is get elected – or appointed – and they will acquire the legal power to order other people around; to take and dispose of the property of others at whim – even to have them killed. It is a game played with great success by the more sophisticated sociopaths a society such as ours produces in ever greater abundance – the ones who appear neat and clean, suit-wearing and well-coiffed. Who never or rarely have to raise their voices – much less their own hands. Never doing the actual violence themselves, but merely ordering it be done by others on their behalf – and enjoying the rich sense of power it gives them.
But what of the less sophisticated sociopaths? The less adroitly violent who see (and envy) the lawful violence exercised by others – the others who get away with it; nay, who are rewarded for being good at it? What of the misfit cop-wannabee, the unsuccessful “leader” whose leadership qualities have not been recognized? Such defectives feel the same desire to lord it over others – are convinced internally of their natural right to lord it over others – but lack the ability to get elected or appointed or move up the corporate glad-handing ladder.
When this power-lust is frustrated, what happens? You get a range of results – from the passive-aggressive suburban harpy housefrau who uses the HOA to torment her neighbors… to James Holmes and Eric Lanza. But they are all part of the same continuum. The inept Lanzas and Holmeses (because they only manage to destroy a handful of lives during their brief “careers”) are on the left side of the scale – and the proficient, such as a senator or president or chairman of the Federal Reserve, all the way to the right side of the scale. They destroy lives on a mass scale – and are cheered for it rather than imprisoned.
The lesson is simply this: We ought not to expect a peaceful society when the generally accepted basis of society is reciprocal plunder via the ballot box. When people can elect thieves and in which aggressive violence for any reason is approved of – or even tolerated. Such a society turns human beings into two-legged rats. Cornered rats, prepared – out of Darwinian necessity – to lash out, lest he be the one lashed out against.
When no one is secure, everyone is fearful. Ready to do unto others as has been done unto him, pre-emptively. A society in which someone’s benefit entails some else’s victimization cannot be a peaceful society. Aggressive violence begets aggressive violence.
That some is performed “outside the box” is not only to be expected, it is the inevitable end product of a society as ethically demented as the society of early 21st century America.
Throw it in the Woods?