Thursday, October 17, 2013

Violent Cuz We Want To Be


I find it remarkable that in the discussion around societal violence there is little to no acknowledgment of the enormous numbers of people that spend time in incarceration or warfare. To be clear, I am not grouping these two populations, criminals and military personnel, together for any reason other than they are two widespread groups both of which are exposed to enormous amounts of first-hand violence and then returned to everyday life. Taken by the numbers, while a relatively small percentage (less than 1) of the population is serving in the military at any given time, approximately ten percent of the population is incarcerated at that same time. This means that eleven percent of the population is actively immersed in a violent and dangerous culture. Overall, more than 30% of the population will be incarcerated in their lifetime and more than 2.28 million of our soldiers have served in Afghanistan and Iraq alone. And we wonder where our penchant for violence comes from. We puzzle over the popularity of football, which seems to increase with its violence. We wonder about bullying and violent television content and mass shootings. We refuse to see what is plainly before us, the choices we make with our population, where to send them, how to foster their development, the things we choose to expose them to, color them forever. If we are a war faring people then we will grow a population that has faced and participated in brutality  and violent times. If we are punitive and punishing, then we will teach our citizens to expect violence to beget violence. In short, we are teaching over a third of our population to expect and participate in violence, and then wondering why is seeps into the rest of our lives. We reap what we sow. Now is as good a time as any to consider policy changes that will provide different kinds of life experiences to our population, experiences that will help us reflect more of what we really want to be.


No comments:

Post a Comment