I read this article “One Nation Under The Gun: Thousands of Gun Deaths Since Newtown” yesterday morning and cried. It’s long, it’s sad, it’s painful but it’s so important; it deserves to be read. It needs to be read.
It deserves our attention, our tears, our anger, our outrage.
It deserves our dedication and commitment to finding a solution to an epidemic that plagues our country.
Because make no mistake: we are under the gun. We must find a way to end the violence. Yesterday.
But it’s not an easy task we face–because the problem is complex. We live in a culture of violence.
Recently, Lauren has posted several pieces on the rape culture in which we live (She’s done a great job; read them). Rape culture is a part of the larger problem: cultural violence (rape is violent by its very nature; thus, it is a part of our cultural violence problem, so I am not trying to take away from Lauren’s excellent & important discussions of rape culture; I am merely adding to them.). It’s so important to recognize that. Because the first step to finding a solution is admitting we have a problem. And boy, do we have a problem!
In short, we have a problem because we live in a society in which violence has been not just normalized but glamorized. We’ve legitimized violence, made it acceptable…even desirable. And it’s not just one thing or another. You can’t just go blaming the movies–it’s not just that. You can’t blame music or video games–alone they do not a culture of violence make. A culture of violence grows from a variety of sources. And it reflects our behaviors, our beliefs and values, our priorities, our definition of ourselves, our country, our society. Thus, there is no one simple solution. Rather, a problem of this magnitude requires a comprehensive (and likely complex) set of solutions.
In one of her most recent posts, “Confronting Rape Culture in Our Own Backyards,” Lauren provides a personal example of rape culture manifesting itself in her neighborhood. Towards the end of the post, she provides a list of steps that each one of us can take to begin fighting rape culture in our society.
A problem like rape culture or the umbrella problem of a culture of violence may seem so big that there is nothing each of us can do. After all, how is one person supposed to make a difference? How will one action change a problem so deeply embedded in the very fabric of our society?
In the words of the admirable Helen Keller, “I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do something I can do.”
There is something you can do. There is something I can do. There is something each one of us can do. We shouldn’t refuse to do something just because we can’t do everything. We shouldn’t refuse to do something small because we think it too small. We need to start small, and as Lauren’s title suggests of rape culture, we need to start in our own backyards.
To paraphrase and play off Lauren, the first small steps we can begin by taking are as follows (read her detailed explanations on her post):
- Acknowledge that a culture of violence exists;
- Learn how that culture of violence manifests;
- Get informed (do your research!);
- Speak up;
- Educate others;
- Talk with your wallet;
- Talk with your vote.
These are small steps each of us can and should take. These are the first steps.
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evils is that good men do nothing.” –Edmund Burke
This is where I start today.
Where and how will you start?