Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More on Nonviolence

This is the continuation of the diary entry from June 22nd:

This sense that so many people have of being violated, brutalized, betrayed, and damaged is hardly surprising, though, in a country where the right to carry a concealed weapon is more prized than the right of same-sexed partners to marry. It is hardly startling in a country where gun deaths often exceed 30,000 a year and where the number of homicides with firearms is often ten or twenty times what it is in most other Western countries. When the United States is compared to Japan in this regard the contrast is even more jarring, as Japan’s rate of gun-related homicides is .03 per hundred thousand, whereas in the USA, the rate is 3.92 per hundred thousand.

It is well known that the United States has a long history of violence. What may be harder to accept is that this violence continues to be part of the fabric of everyday, contemporary life in America. Of course, homicide is just one measure of such violence. Bullying has reached epidemic proportions in public schools, with some polls indicating that as many as three-fourths of all school children are victims of bullies at some point in their schooling, and that about a fifth of those experienced severe reactions when they were bullied (http://www.bullyingstatistics.blogspot.com/). Another indicator of how virulent the strain of violence is in this country can be gathered from statistics on domestic abuse. The American Institute on Domestic Abuse (AIDA) says that over half a million women are stalked each year, that over 5 million women are actually abused each year, and that well over a thousand women a year are murdered by their intimate partners (http://www.aidv-usa.com/statistics.htm). Incredibly, the AIDA says that domestic abuse is the number one cause of injury to women in the United States.

These statistics are just a small reminder that violence rules in America. It is often our first resort when, for instance, we slap a child for disobedience, and frequently our last, as indicated by the mounting number of prisoners slated for death row. We now have proof that violence in the form of corporal punishment doesn’t foster learning or lead to more stable families or help people enjoy more productive lives, but the impulse to lash out goes unrestrained.

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