Wednesday August 21, 2019
Home Opinion America needs...

America needs non-violence and less guns

1
//

Hardly a day passes when a senseless mass shooting does not occur in the United States of America, to the extent  that such murders now seem to have lost their shock value. Verily, the US is averaging a little over one mass shooting every day in 2015.

Therefore, in that respect Wednesday was just another day in America when a couple armed with assault rifles and semi-automatic handguns, attired in military-style clothing went on a shooting spree at a social services centre in San Bernadino, California that specialises in helping adults with disabilities and mental health problems. They killed at least 14 people and wounded 17 others.

The man and woman, Syed Rizwan Farook (28), and Tashfeen Malik (27) were later killed by police. According to reports, Farook, a US citizen, had left an event, possibly a holiday party for employees or a meeting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernadino “under some circumstances that were described as angry,” and returned with Malik armed with assault rifles.

Now that it has come to light that the perpetrators were Muslims by faith, this attack would be termed an act of terrorism. But that should not stop Americans from introspecting and looking inwards to realize that they, as a society, have a serious issue at hand concerning excessive violence. Over 310 million firearms are estimated to be in the hands of private citizens; that is, roughly 97 guns for every 100 people.

Source: FBI

Studies show that where guns are more available, there are more homicides. This, coupled with the fact that nearly nine percent of the US population has a serious anger problem, makes America potentially the most violent and dangerous country on the planet.

“Anger is a normal human emotion,” Jeffrey Swanson, a Duke University psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor, and a leading expert on US gun violence tells National Catholic Reporter.

“Everybody gets angry. But these are people who, when they get angry, break and smash things, and get into physical fights. … People who have a really short fuse,” and who can at times be “uncontrollable and destructive.”

The problem arises when angry people have easy access to assault rifles that can inflict excessive physical harm on others. The issue would, however, not vanish even if we were to take away all the weapons from the private citizens, for the ‘anger’ would manage to find some other means of violent expression.

Even the US security personnel have been of late accused of unnecessarily pulling the trigger on unarmed ‘black’ citizens, as the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014 and other such incidents show.

Let the Truth be told. America comes across as a trigger-happy and extremely violent country, for not only its military but also its private citizens are armed to the teeth. Americans love their weapons and are more than happy in waging unnecessary wars on hapless countries who pose no threat to them.

Iraq never threatened America, yet the ancient country was attacked under the false and malicious pretext of it possessing the weapons of mass destruction, which have not been found till date. It led to the creation of the ISIS, a death cult, that now poses a threat to the entire world. Now, in order to deal with this pressing problem engendered by themselves, the US would wage another war and the cycle of death and destruction would thus continue.

There’s too much violence in the words, thoughts and actions of Americans. Apparently, they have an excessive violence in their movies and dramas as well.

27-year-old former graduate student James Holmes, dressed in tactical clothing and inspired by a Hollywood movie, had in July 2012 attacked the packed premiere of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ at the Century 16 theater in Aurora, Colorado, spraying bullets into the dark auditorium, killing 12 people – including a six-year-child – and injuring several others.

Why do such incidents happen in the US on a regular basis? Why do people have an easy access to weapons that, as history shows, are likely to be used against fellow citizens at the drop of a hat?

Mahatma Gandhi, who taught the lesson of non-violence and brotherhood to a world engulfed in sanguine wars in the early twentieth century, felt that possession of arms was not only cowardice but also a lack of fearlessness or courage.

Gandhi said: “I can imagine a fully armed man to be at heart, a coward. Possession of arms implies an element of fear, if not cowardice, but true nonviolence is impossible without the possession of unadulterated fearlessness.”

Perpetrators of violence or criminals, Gandhiji believed, were products of social disintegration. The only weapon that could counter ‘Himsa’ (violence) was ‘Ahimsa’ (non-violence), which was more than just avoidance of physical violence. For Gandhiji, Ahimsa was love for fellow human beings and humanity.

Arun Gandhi, Gandhiji’s grandson, explains: “He (Gandhi) said ahimsa means love. Because if you have love towards somebody, and you respect that person, then you are not going to do any harm to that person.”

What Americans need right now is a sense of humanity and love, not only for their fellow countrymen but for the entire world. The US constitution says, “All men are created equal.” Therefore, the life of a human being in Syria or Iraq should be of the same worth as that of an American. Once we start seeing each other as human beings first, all differences in terms of race, language, colour, caste, creed and nationality would begin to wither away. And then, the Kingdom of God will be there in the world, instead of Satan who seems to rule the roost today.

The world is at war with itself, but the biggest battle is being fought within us, between the good and evil in our hearts. We need to win this war through the weapon of non-violence i.e. love. Only love and unadulterated humanity can save this world from its perdition.

(Image: BBC)

  • Rakesh Manchanda

    Saying goes -you shall get what you sow and how you grow.American claim to world role model need to remove the defect in their base

Next Story

UN Records Grave Violations Against 12,000 School Children in 2018

One of the more troubling trends emerging in the 2018 report is the growing targeting of schools and hospitals from Yemen and Syria to Afghanistan and South Sudan

0
conflict, children
FILE - Children play outside a community center at an internally displaced person's camp, in the capital Juba, South Sudan, April 2, 2019. VOA

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday he was “appalled” that more than 12,000 children were killed or maimed last year in some 20 countries at war or in a state of conflict.

The unprecedented level of violence against boys and girls was recorded in the U.N.’s annual report naming and shaming countries and armed groups that perpetrate such violence. In all, the U.N. recorded 24,000 grave violations against children in 2018, including killing, maiming, sexual violence, abductions, recruitment and attacking schools and hospitals.

Worst offender

“But without a doubt, the one situation that really comes to my mind is the worst one — the one we have to do our utmost to reverse — is Somalia,” said Virginia Gamba, U.N. special representative for children in armed conflict, whose office prepares the often-controversial report.

She told reporters that the number of violations across all categories there is very high, providing a worrying picture. She said there is also a lack of engagement with the United Nations to improve protections for children, and she said she hopes to visit Somalia in the next two months to see if there is any possibility to open a dialogue.

Both the Somali National Army and the terrorist group al-Shabab, as well as the Ahlu-Sunna Wal-Jama’a (ASWJ), were included in the report’s annex of perpetrators.

violations, conflict, children
FILE – The clothes of a victim lie in the wreckage of a bus carrying civilians, many of them school children, at the site of a deadly Saudi-led coalition airstrike, Saada, Yemen, Aug. 12, 2018. VOA

Targeting hospitals and schools

One of the more troubling trends emerging in the 2018 report is the growing targeting of schools and hospitals from Yemen and Syria to Afghanistan and South Sudan.

“Here you can actually see the tactics of war, and we are seeing more and more armed groups on purpose destroying schools — and particularly those that engage in girls’ education,” Gamba said. “If you are destroying schools, you are destroying choices.”

She noted that on a recent visit to Mali, she spoke with youth who told her of having no education or vocational opportunities, which means they will have few job prospects. “It seems to me that there is every intention of armed groups to destroy the possibility of giving an alternative to children outside of war usage,” she said.

Treading lightly with Saudi Arabia

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has rejected its listing for its role in the Yemen war, which has led to the report’s annex being separated into two lists — one for grave violators and another for parties that are perpetrating violations but have put in place measures aimed at improving the safety of children.

Saudi Arabia is not listed by name in the 2018 report but rather as the “Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen.” It is not among the most grave violators, despite the report citing numerous airstrikes that killed or maimed 685 children last year. The coalition, which has engaged with the U.N. on the issue, is among those parties that have put in place measures to protect children. The Houthi rebels who they are fighting are on the most serious offenders list.

children, violence
FILE – Medical workers help a child, who was injured in a mortar shell attack, at Medina hospital during Somali Independence day ceremony in Mogadishu, Somalia, July, 1, 2018. VOA

“It’s baffling that the secretary-general’s ‘not-so-bad’ list gives credit to parties that are increasing, not reducing, their violations against children,” said Human Rights Watch children’s rights advocacy director, Jo Becker, in a statement. “Guterres should return to a single list based solely on evidence of violations on the ground.”

Israel vs. Palestinians

Israel was not listed, despite the U.N. verifying the deaths of 57 Palestinian children — 56 were attributable to Israeli forces and one to an Israeli settler — the highest figures since 2014. The report also found that nearly 3,000 Palestinian children were injured during the Great March of Return in March and April of last year, when there were daily protests at the security fence separating the Gaza Strip from Israel.

Gamba said the secretary-general ultimately decides who is listed, and that he has directed her office to further examine the killings and maimings of children in the Palestinian territories and to report back to him by the end of December. She is also to look into the recruitment of children by Palestinian militants.

ALSO READ: Dengue Outbreak Breaks Record in Bangladesh, Hospitals Struggle to Find Space for Patients

The special representative also noted that she has repeatedly sought to engage with both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities and has been unsuccessful, and hoped that the secretary-general’s new directive would enable her access.

“My office was not born to name and shame and attribute, and that’s it,” Gamba said of the controversies her annual blacklist generates. “The job is to raise awareness on the plight of children and to try to prevent the violations and better protect children.” (VOA)