Killing each other seems to be the thing that humans turn to, to solve their problems. Americans tend to see the U.S. as a virtuous nation. A nation built on the premise that all people are created equal and all deserve a chance at the American dream, to wealth and health, freedom and security. And yet in reality, our nation was built on the killing of millions of Native Americans and on the slavery and killing of millions of Africans. We tend to overlook these things because they happened in the past, and we can’t change that after all. We look to the future and tell ourselves that we will make our country a better place. While making our country a better place is a virtuous thought, we’re really not doing that. Our country today has become a place of suspicion, fear and hatred. Maybe that doesn’t apply to your personal life, but overall it is what’s happening and it’s being fueled by our politicians and our media. A constant barrage of news about terrorism, and refugees and radical Islam awaits the TV watcher. The people running for president are a group of spiteful, hateful, fear mongering men and women who will have you believe that we should be killing Muslims and abortion doctors and gays. The question is, how did we get to this place?
People fear change. Not the kind you find in the bottom of your pocket but change as in, ‘things changing’. We cannot handle change very well, It makes us worry. It makes us fearful. We are creatures of habit. We like to know that our toothbrush is the second one from the end of the holder. We like our newspaper on time. We want our cup of coffee in the morning. We like to know that our job is the same as when we left it yesterday. We like sameness and habit. When these things are disrupted we worry. A lot of the problems we face today have been brought about by rapid change.
In the U.S. the majority race has been White for a very long time. Before that it was Native American, but killing millions of them took care of that problem. Up until the Industrial Revolution, things progressed rather slowly. And then progress took off like a rocket. White industrialists and scientists were mostly responsible for the changes. There are people of color who played important roles but mostly it was White people. The changes benefited everyone but as Whites were the majority, they reaped the most from it. And the changes were acceptable because they were good changes. Industry meant money. It meant progress and growth which meant more money. It meant families like the Rockefeller’s would become billionaires, and the American Dream was born.
What made White people comfortable with these changes was being in charge. They ran everything and made the rules. Men married women and women stayed home and raised the kids, cooked the meals and if you believe the advertising, they adored their husbands. White people married White people and Black people married Black people. White people were in charge and felt a sense of entitlement, a sense of belonging. Even if you lived in a broken down shack in the poorest county in Arkansas, you were still White and this was a White country, and White people were in charge. I should rephrase that by saying, White Men were in charge.
And things stayed this way until the late 1950’s. Rock ‘n’ Roll music, born out of American Black Blues music started to get popular. The Vietnam War began in the late 50’s. The Pill was introduced to America in 1960. The Hippie generation followed with it’s message of peace and love and Pot and Acid and parents thought their children were going crazy. Never before had Americans acted in the ways they were acting then. Women suddenly had a choice about getting pregnant. Teens were rejecting the society that their parents had built. Of course teens grow up and society mellowed somewhat but these changes simmered in the background. The rights of people of color started to be a conversation and White people were still in charge. A lot has happened in the years to follow that writing about would make this article very long. So I’m going to skip to today.
Here we are at the end of 2015. As Jimmy Buffett once said, “If I knew I would live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” Today we have White politicians (except for one) spewing hatred for anyone who isn’t them. They want to “Take back their country.” Which in political speak means they want to go back to the place where White men were in charge and women and Blacks knew their place. And they want a Christian country. Although most people do not adhere to what Christianity was meant to be, it is their rallying cry. They don’t understand “Black Lives Matter,” they don’t understand Gay marriage rights and they don’t understand why a women would want the right to make her own health care choices. All these things scare the hell out of White people who are in charge because it means they just might be losing their grip. It is projected that by 2040, the White race may not be the majority any longer.
And now we have mass shootings. (back to the killing) According to Mother Jones magazine, 64% of mass shootings have been carried out by White men almost exclusively. And they have been middle class or affluent Christian Americans. This form of terrorism is on the rise. So is this a symptom of White men feeling their reign of power slipping away? Statistics show that Christianity is on the decline. If you listen to Christian preachers today you will find they are getting more radical all the time. The more decline, the harder they will fight to hang on. Is that what’s happening with these mass shooting? Are white men seeing the end coming and fighting hard to resist it? Even if White people won’t admit it, we know how horrible we have treated people of color and to someday be the minority must really be a nightmare for some.
So what are the answers? How do we come to understand that killing people won’t solve our problems? Our government certainly doesn’t understand this because it actively promotes killing throughout the world. We need to think about this. It needs to be on our minds.