Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Shootings in Knoxville

Knoxville, TN - a place near my home in Virginia and currently home to my niece and her two year old son. It is also home of the University of Tennessee, where my older brother and his family often watch Vols' football. So it is a place with family connections. Knoxville sets in the shadow of the Great Smoky Mountains – whose majestic beauty awes millions each year – I would have never thought that such an act of violence could have erupted in Knoxville and too, in a religious setting, during a service where children were performing for their parents and friends. All of this violence is just unthinkable to me.

The attacker “stated that he had targeted the church because of its liberal teachings and his belief that all liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country," wrote investigator Steve Still from the Knoxville Police Department. While there is no excuse for the attacker’s actions, our society’s immunity to violence and our fear of those who don’t share our values could have certainly fueled the attacker’s rage. Rage is a commodity that is exported by the media with its escalating use of violence to sell movies and video games it is exported by our politicians as they use language to describe the country’s “war on terror, war on drugs, war on crime”, etc. This ongoing use of violence-language has desensitized the general population. As a culture, our threshold has been lowered. We are not as repulsed by violent acts and thus our social inhibitions have been reduced resulting in acts erupting such as in Knoxville. Also by holding on to a politic of fear, rage is flamed. When will the tide shift in our culture which supports diversity, encourages mutuality and condemns violence as a means of conflict resolution? It is time.

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