Virginia Tech and Violence in Our Culture

I'm still too upset to talk about the Virginia Tech Massacre, and until we know more, I try not to speculate. However, the news about the violent screenplays written by the alleged gunman, Cho, makes me think on our gun-obsessed culture in the US.

I think when we deal with literature, art, culture, etc., especially when young people are concerned, the issues are complicated. We live in a society that glorifies violence and bloodshed, even in the light of patriotism or heroism. Look at the success of 300, and the slew of violent, disturbing movies coming out of Hollywood that target specifically young males. Our sports are violent -- not to mention WWF wresting and Monster trucks. Not to mention the violence in video games, songs, etc. Even our government is telling us that violence is the way to solve world's problem -- if things don't go our way, use force.

American culture is uniquely violent among developed societies. Europe is not that way. Japan is not that way. Even Canada isn't like that.

So while guns may not kill people, we're certainly encouraging people to pick up guns and kill others -- even if it's only a movie or a video game. We reward them -- the more you kill, the higher your scores and the more you can brag to your peers.

We live in a society where loving sex between two people may be deemed perversion and sinful, while children are encouraged to pick up a gun and shoot a virtual villain or a real deer. Religions are backing wars that kill hundreds of thousands of civilians. We'd like to think that we've progressed and we're above the barbarism in other parts of the world, such as the Middle East, but in reality, have we? MLK said, "Violence begets violence." Maybe he was right?

True, I don't think this isolated incident of a lone psycho is cause for having a mass reevaluation of our society -- but I do think there's a problem, and there are symptoms. Some of our youths are getting more and more detached, isolated, and violent. What are the causes? And what are the remedies? Like I said, it's a complicated issue that probably won't find a solution any time soon.


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