By Victoria Lynn Hall
After two mass shootings in the United States in the past week, I see people on social media concerned that we are becoming numb to them and asking where the outrage is. While I understand this concern, I have to confess that some of the outrage I do see frustrates me because it is so often expressed by people, including our elected officials, who ignore, justify or make excuses for the mass violence our own government is directly responsible for.
If we are concerned that people are becoming numb to the fact that people die from gun violence in the United States of America, we should be concerned that people are already numb to the fact that the U.S. Military and its allies bomb and kill people in other countries on a daily basis.
If we are horrified that children have been shot to death in classrooms in the United States then we should be horrified that children have been shot to death by CIA death squads in schools in Afghanistan.
Furthermore, if needless death and despair as a result of direct violence disturbs us when it happens in this country then the indirect violence of U.S. Sanctions that cause death and despair in countries like Syria and Venezuela should be equally disturbing.
And yet when I talk about these things I am so often met with indifference or annoyance.
The fact that the needless death and despair occurring around the world as the direct result of United States Imperialism doesn’t make headline news does not make it okay for people to shrug it off or make excuses for it. Mainstream media’s lack of unbiased coverage of these events only speaks to their ties to the politicians and multinational corporations who benefit from them .
The average citizen, however, has nothing to gain and much to lose by ignoring these circumstances. No one should believe for a second that the violence “over there” has nothing to do with the violence happening in our own country and communities. Violence begets violence. Not only does the violence our government commits around the world make that world understandably hostile to us but it contributes to the culture of violence here as well.
Those who blame racism for much of the violence in this country are not wrong but we can also blame racism for violence in other countries. In fact, as anti-war veteran Mike Prysner has described and stated, “Racism has long been used to justify the killing, subjugation and torture of another people. Racism is a vital weapon employed by this government.”
That weapon is employed overseas but it often remains with the people who come home. There is a clear relationship between veterans and white supremacist groups. In fact, veterans have played a prominent role in white supremacist movements in the United States for more than a century.
While Trump has been singled out as if he alone is responsible for racist violence in the United States, it is in fact something that our government has perpetrated and encouraged since the birth of our nation. And the only leaders we have had who challenged this in any meaningful way have themselves been taken down by violence, smeared or become pawns of the system they set out to reform.
As much as we grieve the possibilities that died with leaders like Abraham, Martin and John, we should be suspect of the lack or loss of progress made by the leaders who rose in their place. In fact, we should be deeply skeptical of any leader who manages to gain prominence and profit from their position when we have consistently been shown how severely anyone advocating for any significant measure of justice or equality will be punished for their efforts.
Some people may simply be unaware of the realities I’m touching on here and yet there are others who just accept that this is “just the way it is”. Does that mean they also accept mass shootings in the United States are “just the way it is” today? I agree with others that this would be a mistake.
However, I would also hope that being disturbed and frightened by the violence in our own country will also inform and ignite our empathy for other people around the world; people who have long lived with the threat of violence around them because they just happened to live in a country with resources or geopolitical positioning that the United States empire wants to be in control of.
If we’re going to be outraged by violence; we should be outraged by violence here, there and everywhere.
CodePink.org is a good place to start to informing yourself about the unjust war and violence perpetrated by the United States Government and how to take action against it.
To help children suffering in war torn and sanctioned countries like Yemen and Syria, consider making a donation to the humanitarian aid organization, Save The Children.
References (also hyperlinked where applicable above):
A self taught artist and creative entrepreneur, Victoria Lynn Hall lives in the Kansas City area with 4 spoiled cats. She believes in art and the magic of kindness.