Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Real Life Tao - "Isolated" Incidents

Trey Smith

Forty-seven percent of Americans say it is more important to control gun ownership, while 46 percent say it is more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns, the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press said in a statement.

The numbers are virtually unchanged from April, when 45 percent prioritized gun control and 49 percent gun rights. Other major episodes of gun violence in recent years also had little effect on public opinion about gun laws, Pew said.

James Holmes, a former University of Colorado graduate student, was formally charged on Monday in the shooting deaths of 12 people in the shootings at an Aurora, Colorado, theater on July 20.

Sixty-seven percent of those polled say that shootings like the one in Colorado are the
isolated acts of troubled individuals. Twenty-four percent say such shootings reflect broader problems in U.S. society. (emphasis mine)
~ from Gun Control Views Unchanged After Colorado Massacre by Ian Simpson ~
In a society that views each of us as an island unto ourselves, it's not surprising that a significant majority would view crimes of this nature as being isolated. This is a natural byproduct of our Christian ethos -- this belief that few, if any, things in this life are connected.

We see this very same mentality when it comes to the topic of global warming/climate change. Too many Americans view climatic events as not connected with any other. So, just because a great swath of the nation is gripped in an oppressive drought this summer, this certainly cannot be connected to an overly warm winter this past year or massive snowstorms from the year before. Each one is seen as a climatic event all of its own.

Taoists take a different view altogether. We don't see a world of unconnected actors whose actions and thoughts are divorced from all others; we see a world that is interconnected in which each individual act impacts everything else.

In many previous posts, I have likened this idea to the ripples made in water. Throw a stone into a pond and, from the center point, ripples spread out in all directions. These ripples eventually come in contact with everything in that particular pond. Objects and beings closest to the epicenter are impacted more dramatically than those far away, but it is a mistake to think that those beings and objects far away aren't impacted at all.

In this same vein, I see a society in America that glorifies violence in a variety of forms. Our national leaders espouse a doctrine of "Shoot (bomb) first and ask questions later!" Violent video games are top sellers and violence in popular forms of entertainment is pervasive. With our society steeped in violent imagery, is it any wonder that we kill and injure each other more than most nations in the world?

In my view, the ripple effect of this ubiquitous glorification of violence plays a key role in events like the Aurora shooting. Such atrocities may be isolated events on a personal level, but this is not so on a societal level. As I highlighted yesterday morning, the United States has become the poster child for mass murders and spree killings. Since we celebrate violence far more than other western nations, it is not surprising in the least that we are victimized by it more than any other.

If you believe in the idea of an interconnected existence, then it is impossible to view these atrocities as isolated events. There is a connection...if only we would open our eyes to see it.

This post is part of a series. For an introduction, go here.

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