Sunday, January 9, 2011
Elevating the discussion of violence in America
It’s interesting how an act of violence becomes a media event when it happens to a notable person, in this case a member of Congress. I cringed this evening while watching an NBC News special about the shooting in Tucson, Arizona. The anchor remarked before a commercial break “…when we come back, more about the remarkable lives lost”. I cringed at the adjective “remarkable” as opposed to “unremarkable”. Following the special, a new show about a caped hero a la Batman. Guns blazing. Commercial sales profitable.
I wondered how the media would have covered this had it occurred in the “inner city” rather than this upscale area of Tucson.
Many unremarkable people die from violence in this country every day. Kansas City Missouri recorded 106 homicides in 2010. Statistics. No roll of names. No investigative news reporting of note. On to a new year with new numbers. Body count. It’s an inappropriate perspective, this counting, but we are in the habit of counting the dead.
Our sensitivity to violence numbs with the impersonal daily numbers. Weapons plentiful. Rhetoric powerful.
Violence is so profitable in so many ways; so much more profitable than peace. Some consider violence and loss the price of peace.
My time in England gave me time to observe America from afar and learn how others view us. We entertain the world and when it comes to domestic violence, we confuse and stymie our world neighbors. Many of us have that experience of observing home from a distance and learning something new; even from across the street.
I’m not pessimistic, though. Perhaps this massacre will give writers pause, elevate the discussion of politics, remove personality from the debate, motivate people to think deeper before critiquing, critically examine with curiosity rather than a set point of view.
Editorial writers and political analysts will be tentative for a time. I feel self-conscious writing this but that’s a selfish emotion. I am wondering what people are thinking about all of this; what they really think and chose not to utter or write.
It seems silly to rant these days when we’re so connected. A rant seems like talking in bag. It’s very amazing to know that people read what I write. It’s really nice to know that because when writing, I write for the reader, or at least endeavor to do so. Like theatre, I think the nature of the art of writing resides in the reader. I need to work on this…