Thursday, January 13, 2011

Too Much Air in the War We Breath

War has become the single most pervasive theme in modern society. We wage War on Terror, sports arenas are battlefields, and any significant level of destruction is deemed a war zone. Even positive efforts fall prey to the theme - the War on Cancer, War on Drugs, and the Battle Against Hunger. It's become so common that we are desensitized to the violence conveyed with such a theme. Is the recent political rhetoric just a result of the common vernacular? Or is it the cause?

Violent, war-laced imagery exists on all sides of the aisle, and has been present for generations. Consider Lincoln's "House Divided" - , Roosevelt's "Man with the Muckrake" - , or more modern examples like McCain's 2008 GOP Convention Speech "Fight with me. Fight with me. Fight for what's right for your country", and even Obama last year in Ohio "I'll never stop fighting to give every American a fair shake.".

While the last two references seem relatively mild, the frequency and amplitude of the imagery has increased dramatically as of late; with phrases like "kill the bill", "battleground states", and the now infamous crosshairs from Sarah Palin. Current debate has arisen over the relationship between the political jargon and the horrible events in Arizona.

I personally haven't decided if there is a quantifiable dependence on the actions of psychopaths and the violent allusions of politicians, media, and society. Nevertheless, I do feel strongly that action needs to be taken against the perpetuation of violence. Joseph Smith had it right when he said, "Let us conquer ourselves, and then go to and conquer all the evil that we see around us, as far as we possibly can. And we will do it without using violence; we will do it without interfering with the agency of men or of women. We will do it by persuasion, by long-suffering, by patience, and by forgiveness and love unfeigned, by which we will win the hearts, the affections and the souls of the children of men to the truth as God has revealed it to us."

Thankfully modern commentators and politicians echo this same idea:

There is no need for violence. It has no place in our society, nor in our hearts.


Josh said...

What society? Where do you live that is such a splendid society? Violence has been the bane of this world since Adam and Eve started to procreate! You think, though, that if our media stopped using the word war, it would just go away? How much Prozac do you take a day?

Do you want to know what increases violence? Weakness. That is the society that we live in, and it has been the same since the world began. The weak are always brutalized. Stop taking away the abilities of the average Joe to protect himself, and violence will diminish - although it won't go away until Christ comes! Pray for that to happen soon, as that will end the violence, and nothing prior to it will!

Jacob S. said...

Josh, why do you always resort to personal attacks? It gets old.

Anyway, we live in a society where our movies, television, video games, music, daily news, political rhetoric, and any other type of media you can think of, are infused with violence. A person simply cannot escape it. Do you really think that this has no effect whatsoever on our collective actions as a society?

Pres. McKay was fond of this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Watch your thoughts. They become words. Watch your words. They become deeds. Watch your deeds. They become habits. Watch your habits. They become character." I think if we stopped using violent rhetoric and ended how much violence we tolerate in the media that it would positively impact the level of violence in society.

As to your second paragraph, I just 100% disagree. I couldn't disagree more. Here's where I come from on this issue:

"Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him."

"But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain."

"No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned."

"And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked . . ."

"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. . . Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."

Shall I go on? No, I think that is enough. The idea that we have to practice this faux-machoism is utterly wrong, in my opinion. It is, in fact, the meek and the peacemakers and the humble that keep the world from descending into complete violence. It is the peaceable followers of Christ, and not the tough-guy, no-one's-gonna-walk-all-over-me types that we should be emulating. Maybe that comes across as weakness, but I don't think so.

And finally, just because it is a generally violent world, and has been for a long time, doesn't mean we shouldn't do all we can to make it better. I don't know if you have some inside information that I don't, but I don't have any idea when Christ will return and I'd rather focus on making the world better for me and my children than just hope and pray the world ends before it gets literally unbearable.

Josh said...

I'm pretty sure that it would take more effort than I am willing to give, but if I were to look back through your blog, I don't recall ever before issuing a personal attack (I do admit that the above post was quite personal). I have been attacked more than a couple times for my views here though, were they just not as offensive as this attack? Should I appologize? Maybe. Will I? No. I feel that blaming the media for this Arizona tragedy, or any other such act, is a very deep insult to the poor victims.

I agree with the scripture references, but I believe them to be aimed at instances of quarrel (like, for instance, an argument over who owns a particular goat) and refuse to believe that the Lord would ask me to be a victim. I think these scriptures refer more to the "love thy neighbor" approach than to a "if some sociopath wants to shoot you, you should just let him do it, to diminish the overall violence" approach.

I take great offense to the blaming of media outlets for a person's actions. The psycho that shot up those poor people in AZ made his own decision to do so, and to blame some outside factor for that decision is to take blame away from the perpetrator! I saw the same thing happen in my own town. Two little douchebags decided they wanted to kill someone. They decided it would be the ultimate rush. The one's parents immediately blamed the music they had let him listen to and the video games they let him play. He NEVER showed a single sign of remorse. He seemed to feel justified by everyone saying that it wasn't his fault. You know what though. It wasn't the musicians, or the video game creator, or even his parents stabbing that poor girl over and over. It was the punk who gets to live on free food and rent for the rest of his life.

I am all for making this a better world, but it doesn't help to be unrealistic. It probably doesn't help me to be such a cynic either, and I recognize that.

Now, just to ease my curiosity, I have to ask a question in this forum. How do you imagine it would help keep these kind of wackos from killing people to pass laws about the ownership of firearms or firearm components? The people that go on these shooting sprees are not law abiding citizens anyway. Ten years for buying an illegal gun or part is not much of a threat to someone that's probably going to get themself killed, or go to prison for life.

Josh said...

Well, I couldn't stop myself. I looked back. I haven't even posted on your blog since July. That post may have been a little "attacky-ish," I guess. Still, I don't get where you say I always resort to the personal attack. I did see posts from another "Josh" but they didn't seem to be personal either.

Oh well. At the very least, I've given you a semi lively moment today. It has to be boring to see the only comments being left are in agreement with you, and a little disagreement is always fun.

Jacob S. said...

Josh, you are a passionate person, and when you write here it tends to be very personal and go beyond just the issues. But I know you are not trying to be mean-spirited so I shouldn't have said anything about the personal attacks, but the "how much prozac do you take a day" and the "ignorant, you don't understand" stuff from the hunting thread and the like have rubbed me the wrong way. Again, I was probably just in a bad mood when I wrote that, I know you are not purposefully trying to offend.

Anyway, and I don't want to speak for Shawn here this is my opinion, I think you are misunderstanding the main point. No one is saying that the media or society is to blame for these all too frequent acts of violence. The criminal alone is to blame. No one is trying to let a person like that free.

On the other hand, we can't just ignore context. No man is an island, as the saying goes. If you raise a child in a environment of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, and abject poverty, that child is going to be far more likely to be socially deviant. Does that take the blame away from the person? No, but it also helps us to understand some indirect root causes of the deviancy. If all children are raised in a society that glorifies violence does that take the blame away from criminals? No, but, again, it helps us understand and it gives us something to try to fix. If we stopped glorifying violence and started glorifying peace I honestly believe violent criminal acts would decrease.

Now, as for the scriptures, I never said that a person shouldn't protect themselves and their families from violent attacks. Of course you should. But we default to violence way too quickly these days, and we don't use it as the last resort like we should. As a nation we resort to war way too quickly, as a people we equate violence and machoism with strength, and peacefulness and turning the other cheek with weakness. I think its a big problem.

Finally, yes I do like it when you come around and give me something to argue with, it makes it much more fun.

Shawn O. said...


Sorry for the delay in replying. I appreciate your willingness to share your side of the argument. While it is satisfying when people agree with something that I post, it's often more informative when they don't. However, I think you missed part of my point. I never suggested that eliminating a word from the media would stop the event. In fact, I wrote "I personally haven't decided if there is a quantifiable dependence on the actions of psychopaths and the violent allusions of politicians, media, and society."

I don't know if there is enough evidence out there to say that crazy action was inspired by the media. I agree with you on that part - it belittles the victims when we excuse the actions of the criminal. One of my main points is simply that war and violence feel like the default setting. Instead of using any other analogy, most people turn to war and violence.

Of course there are a TON of examples from the scriptures that use the same approach (e.g. Armor of God, Armies of Helaman). Likewise the references I gave, such as the War on Cancer. There can be positive allusions to battle, but my questions is why has it become the most common and pervasive theme used today? I think that we have become so desensitized to war that we have forgotten the horrors that it truly denotes.

As for your idea that weakness is the source of violence, I have to completely disagree. You honestly believe that arming the "weak" will stop the violence? History definitely tells a different story. Are you implying that, because I don't carry a gun that I will be subject to violence, and the only way to prevent that is to holster up and fight back?

I can't imagine a more horrifying world.

The point of my post is that violence has become so common that it is found in every aspect of our lives. Am I implying that watching violent movies, listening to violent music, and speaking with violent overtones will make us a more violent society? That's exactly what I'm saying.

Taking the word "war" out of the media won't stem the tide of war; however, lessening our propensity to wage war might just take the word "war" out of the media.

Thanks for reading

Josh said...

A very good response Shawn. Thank you. I'll answer your question as quick as possible. No, I don't think that you WILL be subjected to violence because you don't carry a gun. I DO think that carrying a weapon of self-defense (something as simple as pepper spray is very effective on MOST would be attackers), will discourage most violent aggressors, and is logical good sense.

Your note about history is incorrect. The history of this world is full of examples of defenseless people destroyed by bullying oppressors. Even in present time, countries that insist on strict weapons laws see a rise in violent crime. While proponents of the gun laws of England or Australia are quick to show a small decline in "gun crime," they fail to recognize the reality that other violent crime stats are rising.

We pay police forces to keep us secure and safe, but the fact of the matter is that most police response times are 3-5 minutes (this is a national average of sorts, and could be a little more or less, depending on area). Think about what one person can do to another in that amount of time. I honestly believe that it is each individual's RESPONSIBILITY to protect him or herself. There are many ways to do so, and my choice of a .40 caliber handgun may not be the best for everyone out there, but it would be naively foolish to think that you don't need to protect yourself somehow.

I shouldn't have gotten so worked up over this post. Shawn did not accuse gun owners of causing the AZ tragedy, but others did, so I'm a little on edge about this subject. That's all.

Architect said...

Pretty much the wars, war on poverty, war on cancer, war on drugs,...are wars against civil rights and economic rights. All these wars cost money and the soldiers expect to be paid and paid well. And they expect to get pensions after they get tired of fighting.

From Sun Tzu: War bankrupts the state.