The Ponder Effect | Why, why, why this violence?
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Why, why, why this violence?

This is not merely a question. This is a plea. Why, why, why this violence? Or, as WSJ columnist Peggy Noonan, poses it: “Why do so many Americans have murder in their hearts? What’s gone wrong with our culture that produces such atrocities?” She points to sweeping “social, technological, and cultural revolutions” that have made the air we breathe toxic. Those most impressionable among us—the youth—are the most susceptible to its poison. Specifically, she cites the breakdown of the family coupled with the rise of drugs, of internet porn, of violent gaming, and more. There is so much here to ponder and discuss. What is the root of the root of the violence?

I don’t know, and I am desperate to know and I think we all are. Not just to demand gun policy—which seems such an obvious, urgent need—but to go far deeper than that. To know fundamentally where we are going wrong and to devise ways to fix it. Why, why, why this violence…and how do we begin to stop it?

Share your thoughts [All posts are 100% anonymous]

7 Ponderings
  • Anonymous

    February 19, 2018 at 12:05 am

    I think there are layers upon layers of reasons. I think that a lot of these kids who are committing the violence especially these mass shootings, They feel left out depressed, fearful of their future, which makes them angry. Also, I think a lot of them have been on medication that if you look closely the side effects is violence. Class sizes in schools are too big too, kids fall through the cracks all the time. As far as other people committing the crime’s I think that we are all desensitized to violence. Just look at the television shows look at the movies violence is everywhere. There is violence in music. Everyone plays a part in this. These images of conjured up violence, as well as real violence that we see every day on the news, I really think affects our brains. Just as a species. I also think that there’s always been violence, it just seems like more now. I think what individuals can do is to fight for legislation that makes sense and hold outlets accountable who are spreading messages of gratuitous violence. Finally, be kind and shine a light on as many people as possible. Just love and love and love until you can’t love anymore. God needs to be allowed back in, I feel strongly that Jesus’s teachings are being pushed aside because they are not deemed as politically correct. It’s a problem. So as an individual it’s best just to show what love and kindness looks like, and then maybe it would affect at least one person in a positive way.

  • Anonymous

    February 19, 2018 at 2:13 am

    I agree: love, Love, Love. But how? Some people, some kids, even, are hard to love. As citizens, I believe we need to fan the flames of every organization out there that has the capacity to give BELONGING and purpose to the lonely and the marginalized. I think that it should be really hard to buy guns. And violent video games. And that maybe there should be a minimum age requirement for social media/smart phone use (18 sounds right). Our kids are lonely, and they’re being raised by lonely parents who seek to fulfill themselves with their own screen time. As I write this, it all feels so overwhelming. But I do think that if we, as a society, work to give money and enthusiasm to organizations that serve those most at risk in positive ways, we can start down the right path. It would be a huge help to get AR-15s off the market, though … right?!?!

  • Anonymous

    February 19, 2018 at 3:21 am

    The breakdown of the family has caused a lack of cohesive, focused parenting. This is also one of the roots of the challenges with our education system. Lack of loving support, isolation, drugs, the lack of a solid foundation…all of these issues have contributed to an anger and frustration that drives fear and desperation. There is no easy or short term solution. Early education, strong and varied after-school programs, organizations like Boys and Girls Clubs, Men of Valor, 100 Black Men, STARS, Family and Children’s Service…all these programs and more are working to create safe, loving, enriching environments. If each of us will do our part, even if just reading to a child once a week, we will make progress one child at a time, one day at a time, one family at a time.

  • Anonymous

    February 19, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    My brother mentioned this, and I thought it was a great idea. So the US has always had a lot of guns (I agree with the urgent need for gun policy), but school shootings were not a thing until Columbine. Gradually they have become more frequent, I believe partly because would-be perpetrators see the media attention that these shootings and shooters get and perhaps, in their minds warped by many of the social phenomena that have been mentioned above, crave this attention. I wonder if some of these shooters aren’t motivated by the infamy they stand to gain. Wouldn’t it be an interesting experiment if someone like Obama or Oprah with a huge sway over social thought in this country, led a campaign urging all major media outlets to not publish photos, names, or any personal information of these shooters? I admit that I am interested in learning who these people are and what led them to commit these atrocities, but I think we would benefit more from learning the names and faces of the victims. It wouldn’t solve everything, but it’s something interesting to ponder.

  • Anonymous

    February 21, 2018 at 11:54 pm

    I think I begin to understand it this way… So many people in America are unmoored. They are unmoored from principles and they are unmoored from each other. They don’t know what they stand for or what they have to give or that they are loved or that it’s okay to be lost. This is not easy stuff to know, especially for young people struggling to find their place in the world. Ideally, we discover the answers to these questions because we have people around us—parents, grandparents, teachers, friends, coaches, mentors, neighbors of all kinds—who love us, understand us, challenge us, respect us, care for us, and hold us accountable. In the absence of a strong tribe, though, people will try all sorts of ways to fill their need for purpose and belonging that are no good. And the list of no good things that are readily available to us today, literally in the palm of our hand, are the most dangerous kinds: self-importance, drugs, sexual perversion, violence. All things that only push people deeper into the spiral of isolation. Born of that isolation is a pain so intolerable that its only outlet seems to be wrath, a wrath that is meaty. You can get your teeth into it and taste it. It is fuel for great acts of evil, which keep happening over and over and over again in this country.
    If we want to stop this, don’t we have to recalibrate everything? The family unit, the nature of education, technology use, media content, mental healthcare, and on and on. It feels impossible and yet we can’t go on.

  • Anonymous

    February 23, 2018 at 1:59 am

    To add a little balance to what constantly comes off like an attack on “the media”. People have called into newsrooms and threatened bomb threats at schools for decades, and the news never reports them. Doesn’t want to encourage copycats. It has escalated over the years and today newsrooms get, and have been getting for a long while, hundreds of threats from someone saying they’ll “shoot up a school”. Newsrooms around the country have similar systems in place: don’t report, tell police. IF it impacts families, or IF kids are being evacuated, or IF authorities find it to be valid, or IF traffic is now an issue (whatever the specifics, IF other things are now becoming impacted by the anonymous hang-up threat), then the news gets involved to help spread the message from law enforcement, the school or concerned parents. But to think kids are now escalating from calling in bomb threats to calling in shooting massacres because “the media” encourages them seems off to me. I think it has way more to do with social media, trying to make a name for oneself, teen depression and anger and the ease in which guns appear and can be purchased… than “the media” teaching or encouraging. Sadly, killing people has always been around. Cain killed Able with a rock. But Cain couldn’t quickly kill 17 different Abels with only one rock. He’d have needed something more. Something that kids with anger issues are legally able to purchase in our current day world. They can’t buy beer, but they can buy a weapon of massacre.

  • Anonymous

    February 24, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    I have been worrying with this question all week. I keep thinking I should have better answers. I don’t. Now I am sliding my thoughts in at the last minute.
    I find myself coming back to three legs holding up the question “Why”. Although I usually shy away fro.m “blaming” parents I do think parents have a role in this. It seems to me everyone has been caught up in “right to be happy.” We all know that parenting can bring us bursts of pride and happiness but mostly is just hard work. And it means putting one’s own happiness aside to put your kids first. Parents want their kids to be happy. They want them to have everything: happiness, self esteem, positive experiences, success. In reality kids need to fail. They need to learn there are consequences to their actions. They need to be held responsible. They gradually learn two important things: to think about the consequences before they do something (yes, this takes years) AND that they can come through, survive, those consequences Tomorrow still holds good things. Tomorrow is worth living.
    The second leg is the same that so many of you have said. Too much violence! Violence in movies. Violence in tv shows. Violence in video games. Violence in the media. Blowing up something or someone becomes meaningless. We have gone from Roy Rogers shooting up one, maybe two, bad guys, to pacman and the milenium falcon and the force to rampant violence. Violence becomes not just meaningless but an answer. An answer to pain, to loneliness, to bullying, to anger, to desperation. There is a disconnect to the consequences.
    The third leg is one I am too old to understand fully. So I can’t speak to it as well but I think it certainly has a role in the answer. And that is the isolation that social media has brought our kids. The healthy ones and the struggling ones. When you communicate without seeing the other person’s face you don’t know how your words affect them. How they hurt or lift up. It is too easy to be mean, too easy to present a false picture of happiness and perfection, too easy to hide.
    I don’t have solutions to offer. I wish I did. I do think parents are becoming aware of the negative consequences of exposure to violence, social media and the false lure of happiness. I believe in them. I believe they will change the rules or make more rules in their families and in their communities.
    I pray to God that the amazing teenagers in Florida can, with our support and engagement, bring about major changes in our gun laws.