Saturday, March 17, 2018

Ending School Violence By Changing Attitudes

What do you think about the recent student "walkout" over gun violence, particularly in schools? Its seems that few things fail to attract kids these days like a good issue (or excuse) to protest or riot. Donald Trump's election, and later, his inauguration, are two quick examples. Young adults and students, which comprised both Millennials and the up and coming "Generation Z" ,were quick to jump on the anti-Trump bandwagon, whipped up by the devastated Hillary camp who couldn't believe she was denied her coronation after doing so much to...I mean "for"...America , that the Left went on a rampage which has yet to let up.

The corporate media was also pretty fast to jump into the fray. After all, they had been trying to swing the election to Hillary for over a year, and then....on national TV for all the world to see...was made a fool of by the American People (who obviously don't know what's good for them). Heck, "if" it really had to be someone other than Hillary, surely the American People would chose one of the pre-selected and pre-approved Republican candidates, but nope! The American People had to go and pick someone who was an actual outsider and not someone who claimed to be in one of the sound bites. For shame America. For shame on you for thinking for yourselves.

I remember growing up in the 1960's and 1970's. We had protests a plenty! If you had a cause, we had your protest lined up and waiting! Seriously though, we did have our protests, and riots. Most of the protests were over the war in Vietnam (as well as the expansion of the war into Laos and Cambodia with the possibly at one point of even stretching into Thailand where Americans bombers were flying out of). America had come to see not just that the war was unwinnable as it was being fought (with politicians playing general), but also with the knowledge (especially after the 1968 Tet Offensive) that the military and government had been lying to us all along. Few saw any sense in going off to war to die for lies, or corporate profits for that matter as our eternal "War on Terror" now bears witness.

We also had our protests over issues such as voting rights, worker rights and job safety, equality in pay, fairness in hiring, the environment, Native American rights, forced busing, and gay rights. The riots were more the result of civil rights and "police brutality" as it was called then. However, these protests and riots were based on widespread social issues, and regardless of your opinion on any of these individual issues, freedom of expression was always at the forefront. Something else which was at the forefront was the belief in individualism. By that I mean the expansion and protection of the individual from the government. People believed the government was one of many tools to make life better. We valued individual responsibility and the expansion of personal rights and responsibility.

At some point (I'm not quite sure when or where) that all started to change. We began to think that government was "the" tool to needed to solve all our problems. Instead of organizing at the grassroots level to get things done, we demanded government do it for us. If there was a problem, government had to provide the fix. Of course, the more we've come to rely on government, the more dependent we become on it and the more unwilling or resistant we became to acting or thinking for ourselves. We, in effect, forged our own chains. Our servant has now become our master.

Meanwhile, the bond between government and corporatism has become stronger, to the point where it's almost indistinguishable where government leaves off and corporate control begins. Of course, there has always been a revolving door between the corporate world and government, but with the passage of "Citizens United", the revolving door has been removed and replaced with a breezeway. Corporations are now "people" with not just all the rights of an individual, but more so, especially when it comes to free speech.

Free speech---the 1st Amendment--was something that was greatly cherish by our Founding Fathers. They understood what it meant for the people to be denied a voice. Well, somehow, money---and it possession of it---has been determined to be "free speech" except that ordinary flesh and blood types like you and I are restricted in the amount of "free speech" we can donate to the candidate of our choice, but not so the corporate "Frankensteins", who are free to donate whatever they like. Corporate lobbyists now even help write the bills that legislators vote on. At the very least, they provide the research and they read the countless and voluminous bills on behalf of the legislators; they even provide a summary and recommendation as to how to vote. Awfully kind of them don't you think?

Political campaigns, especially at the federal level, has become far too expensive for ordinary Americans. Congress and the Presidency are a multi-millionaire's club. The last Presidential election cost approximately $2.6 billion dollars. The total cost for those running in 2016 election cycle for federal offices was $6.8 billion dollars. Given that, while the salaries are pretty good, as are the benefits, there's simply no way ordinary Americans can run for these offices. In fact, those running and being elected are simply those with the most money in what's become a popularity contest rather than a race about issues.

These individuals have little in common with us. They live in a completely different world. I'm surprised they even breath the same air. They don't understand what the average American goes through daily just to get by. They are exempt from many of the same laws they pass. They even function under a different set of laws. Washington politicians have become a de facto separate class; a political class beholding to their financial sponsors. Let's face it friends, we---the American People---are not represented in Washington. We get the illusion of choice while Wallstreet and "K" Street lobbyists decide what's good for us.

I really can't blame them, at least entirely. Nature...and politics...abhors a void. We've been content to watch TV, play video games, play on our "Smart" phones, and so forth. Very few of us are involved in our schools or neighborhoods. We tend to vote party line instead of actually trying to understand the issues (and letting the politicians decide what the issues are). Then too, who can blame us? We struggle through work; worry about keeping our jobs or benefits (if we even have any). We're too tired or frustrated by the time we get home to listen to all the hateful chaos on the news. We have to deal with traffic, crime, rising gas and food prices with little or no hope of a raise, and then government, cable, and utilities are always trying to find ways to gouge more money out of us (without our input I might if it would actually matter). It seems it never ends doesn't it?

Of course, this is changing. The majority of Americans are now registered Independent (43%) while the Democrats and Republicans are left fighting over a shrinking piece of the stale pie. The corporate owned media, which functions more like the propaganda ministry of Hitler or Stalin continues to lose their audience, acts as if Indies and third parties (which are also growing) don't exist. Meanwhile, government seems to continue to spiral out of control as we become ever increasingly a police and surveillance state with fewer and fewer rights or choices...all for our own good naturally. Such is life in an Oligarchy.

One key issue, as I've previously written several times, has been gun control. It seems we are experiencing more and more crime, especially gun related crime, be it from a hotel window connected to a casino, shopping malls, churches, or schools. Then, when (or "if") we're provided with explanations from officials, we tend to rarely believe them; such has become our distrust of authority. But of all of these, which are equally terrible, it's the schools that get to us the most. I suppose that's because we expect our kids to be safe in school, so when guns show up, we become scared and angry.

Yet, while school is no place for guns, the fact is that our children haven't really been safe in school for a long time now have they? Schools have long had metal detectors due to the invasion of our schools by those carrying knives, guns, and weapons. Then too, we've seen an infestation of our schools with gang bangers and bullies. In truth, between the wannabe "Al Capones", it's the common bully who is the biggest problem, be it face-to-face or cyber bullying. Obviously signs saying "no guns" or laws against bullying doesn't work. Frankly, it was only a matter of time before some kid got sick and tired of it and takes matter into their own hands.

So, when we see these students marching out of school demanding that guns be banned from school (they already are) or some draconian law to revoke the 2nd Amendment, I have to wonder where the walkouts were to get rid of the bullies? Where were they when they saw or heard about some kid getting verbally or physically assaulted by another student? What did they do? Watch? Nothing? It's the same thing when they see a fellow student disrespect or attack a teacher. Most whip out their cell phones to videotaped the unfolding tragedy just to post it online (and usually you can hear other students egging the punk on; cheering and laughing). Where were these same "moralistic" kids then; the ones demanding further gun control?

Government intervention is not always the answer. In fact, it's rarely the answer. Personal responsibility should be the first step taken to correct any problem. I applaud these students for at least putting their "Smart phones" down long enough and look up and see the world as it is; the real world. Their more militant grandparents would be proud of them for that at least. Ending violence is a worthy cause. However, punishing the majority for the acts of a tiny few is rarely, if ever, the right decision. These students need to reexamine the root cause for the violence in school which is bullying and allowing fellow students to feel alienated. This includes not taking steps to end attacks on teachers, fellow students, and permitting gangbangers in their schools. This is called taking responsibility, and it's through taking responsibility that we can not only take our schools back, but our government too.

Election 2016's price tag: $6.8 billion

NCES: Bullying Fast Facts

Bullying Statistics

Thousands of students walk out of school in nationwide gun violence protests

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