Friday, December 4, 2015

You Asked For It

Because several of you asked, here's my original deleted post from yesterday. Even though I spiked it, a fellow blog reader had it in her news feed and was able to send it back to me. (An excellent example of how things we post on the Internet are never really gone, even when we delete them!) Apologies in advance for the gloominess.

Dave and I were just getting ready to go to bed last night when the news broke about San Bernardino. It's become a weekly, if not daily, event, hasn't it? The latest mass shooting. All I can say is, there are way too many angry, disconnected, ignorant people and way, way too many easily available weapons.

Such insanity. And I suspect that it is exacerbated by the steady flow of wealth to the upper rungs of our economic ladder, and the resulting deprivation of middle- and working-class people all across the globe (and certainly in the developed world). None of us know the motives of the attackers in California, but overall, people have reason to be angry. Even those who seem to be motivated by other causes, such as religious extremism, are often fueled at least in part by a sense of desperation and dissatisfaction about their own lives. If they had a freaking JOB they'd be too busy to plot a shooting and build a bomb.*

Do you remember the movie "Soylent Green"? Everyone knows the basic plot -- people eating people. But I keep thinking of the scenes showing a crowded, polluted, gray world, with people literally fighting and climbing over each other in the smoggy streets to claim dwindling resources. And how when you die, you're shown a movie of the world as it used to be, with wildflowers and bees and wild animals and trees and blue skies. Are we becoming that gray, crowded world? I worry that we are.

On a related note, I read an interesting column in The Times yesterday about economic growth, and whether we can realistically expect the world to continue growing without end. It's a question that has always puzzled me -- economists and business leaders say growth is essential, but how can it be endless? We work within a system of finite resources.

The problem, of course, is that in a no-growth scenario, while we may be arresting the forces that are polluting our planet, we're depriving people of stability and livelihood -- which leads to even more chaos.

I hate to say it so bluntly, but I am glad I don't have children.

*In the California case, we now know the shooter DID have a job, but came from an abusive family with a mentally ill, alcoholic parent. I still maintain joblessness is a factor in much violent mischief.

(Photo: Tottenham, in October.)


e said...

Interesting points, but I think shooting people goes way beyond mischief and I think we are reaping the consequences of continually underfunding mental health services and not finding a way to provide services to all who need them. If the largest purveyor of mental health services in this country (US) is the prison system, that says something scary about us as a nation. I appreciate the economic angle as well and think that our economic system will be our downfall.

Steve Reed said...

I didn't mean to trivialize by saying "mischief" -- but yeah, probably not the best word to use.

Ms. Moon said...

The whole growth thing in the economy has always baffled me too- where does it end?
And I must politely disagree with e. There have always been mentally ill people but until it became so easy to procure guns of mass destruction, these mass shootings did not occur.

Vivian said...

greed, people must realize the more you make and spend the more businesses must charge. and we know businesses want to make money. learn to live more fugal and stop wanting the best of everything. material things don't bring happiness...
hate, people just hate.

ellen abbott said...

yes, a feeling of, maybe not desperation, but definitely disaffection or disenfranchisement, however there are many people who have mental health issues who are poor and disenfranchised and who may have easy access to guns who never even think about doing something like this. the vulnerable are being whipped into a frenzy of hate and fear, they are being told that their future, their position of privilege, is being stolen by the government or illegal immigrants or Syrian refugees or women or whoever the boogyman of the day is. it is that incitement to violence coupled with the lack of impulse control and easy access to weapons that leads to this and the fact that our society basically condones these actions through inaction.

Sharon said...

Very eloquently put. I agree, the joblessness and overall hopelessness has quite a lot to do with the terrorist activity. I'm glad don't have children either.

Linda Sue said...

Since Erik was born, 28 years ago and old man Bush was doing his desert roundup. I have felt despair for the young ones born into these times.The best we can do comes down to personal responsibility, voting does nothing, democracy is ...a word, finding a parcel of land , growing some vegetables, getting a decent telescope and finding a night sky of which to marvel and gain some perspective, seems the only viable option.A good cup of tea with a good friend...comes down to the simple things and doing...time, humans are such a destructive lot and continue to breed like rabbits! These days seems to me, when some kindness or generosity of spirit is shown it is exceptional and love for fellows is renewed. It still exists with in us all, might be fragile at this point and likely needs nurturing. Strength in numbers sort of thing, find those you love and love them harder!I have added you and Dave and Olga to my list of loved hard!

jenny_o said...

I'm glad you re-posted - well worth reading and the comments are valuable also. What we know about the California shooters today goes one step further - apparently the woman pled allegiance to IS. (By the way, thank you for the link to the Times article - there were several very interesting links from it to further reads, including one about the English language magazine IS publishes, and what we can learn about the group from the content and style of the magazine.)

But no matter what the cause, liberal access to weapons allows the reasons to be translated into action and it is such a waste of innocent lives.

And I agree that unbridled pursuit of economic growth and people's personal "need" to have more and the newest and best, along with unchecked population growth, are factors that will bring us as a planet to grief even if climate change doesn't.

jenny_o said...

P. S. And the only way I keep from descending into the gloom is to remember that there are many intelligent and dedicated (and even rich!) people working on the world's problems together, from every part of the globe. Their work isn't splashed all over the headlines every day, but they're quietly working away. One of the links from the Times article you mentioned was about climate change and the teams put in place to come up with ways to reduce CO2 emissions in both developed and developing countries, for example.

There was also a fascinating link to a study looking at all homicides throughout the ages that concludes that there are far fewer today (even including the two world wars) than there were in ages past - quite an eye-opener.

I think the emphasis in the media on "bad" news has skewed our perception of some problems in the world.

Red said...

Amen! Well said. There are many things that contribute to such violence. You've touched on the two biggies. Many more people have to say , "Too many guns. An unfair economy." I've always wondered about the growth thing. There will be an end.

alphabet soup said...

Thanks for putting the post up again Steve and this may not have happened if Ms Moon had not commented about reading it before you spiked it. Spiked it! Love that terminology.

All the comments deal with the complexity of the situation. I'm going to choose another perspective.

Who makes money in which countries, out of armaments large and small. These people have a vested interest in keeping up the supply and would not be happy if any government anywhere had the temerity to attempt to close down their industry. As if that would happen but I'm just saying....

Ms Soup