Thursday November 21, 2019
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America needs non-violence and less guns

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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

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Vineyards in Oregon

Oregon has increasingly received international acclaim fir vineyards and these days the Willamette Valley is the center of a wine region

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Oregon
Oregon vineyards in Oregon along with its own Estate Vineyard, which with its adjacent winery and tasting rooms boasts some spectacular views. Pixabay

Oregon’s wet weather and short summers meant people used to doubt whether the state could ever successfully produce wine. That was 30-plus years ago, but since then it has increasingly received international acclaim and these days the Willamette Valley is the center of a wine region that is world-famous for some of America’s best Pinot Noir.

Here are 10 of the top vineyards in Oregon to visit: 

  1.       DOMAINE DROUHIN (6750 Breyman Orchards Road, Dayton OR 97114, 503-864-2700) is among Oregon’s very finest vineyards. Its motto is “French soul, Oregon soil” and it is owned by the Drouhin family. For the fourth generation, the wines are made using similar techniques to the family’s wines that are produced in Burgundy, France. More information can be found at www.domainedrouhin.com or @DrouhinOregon on Twitter.
  2.       TYEE WINE CELLARS (26335 Greenberry Road, in Corvallis OR 97333, 541-753-8754) can be found one the Buchanan Family Century Farm, which was founded in Willamette Valley over 120 years ago near Corvallis.  More information can be found at www.tyeewine.com or @TyeeWine.

3.   WINTER’S HILL VINEYARD (6451 Northeast Hilltop Lane, Dayton OR 97114, 503-864-4592) conducts tastings in the winery which is surrounded by a landscape of forest and fields.

4.   WILLAMETTE VALLEY VINEYARDS incorporates food and wine pairings so that visitors can discover local ingredients along with the wines, which are inspired by the wines of Tuscany among others. Pinots are featured with food like steelhead salads through roasted lamb to short ribs.

Find out more by visiting www.wvv.com.

Oregon
Oregon is one of the very finest vineyards. Its motto is “French soul, Oregon soil” and it is owned by the Drouhin family. Pixabay

5.   KING ESTATE WINERY (80854 Territorial Highway, Eugene OR 97405, 541-942-9874) was discovered by Ed King in 1990. In the next four years over 100 acres had been planted to create the most diverse soil vineyard ever created in Oregon. Organic winemaking processes enhance the complex fruit flavors and help create wines of great acidity, with structure and minerality to match. Learn more at www.kingestate.com or @KingEstate.

6.   CHERRY HILL WINERY (7867 Crowley Road, Rickreall OR 97371, 503 623-7867) nestles in the Eola Hills of the Willamette Valley. This is a boutique winery where super-premium Pinot Noir is produced by hand.  Find out more at www.cherryhillwinery.com.

7.   YAMHILL VALLEY VINEYARDS (16250 SW Oldsville Road, McMinnville OR 97128, 503 843-3100) is the oldest winery in the McMinnville American Viticultural Area.  It grows, produces and bottles all its own grapes on a 150-acre estate in the foothills of the Coast Range Mountains. The grapes here are the three Pinots – Noir, Gris, and Blanc – Chardonnay, and Riesling. Find out more at www.yamhill.com.

8.   DE PONTE CELLARS (17545 NE Archery Summit Road, Dayton OR 97114, 503 864-3698) is on the site of one of the Willamette Valley’s oldest vineyards.  The first Pinot Noir from here was released to critical acclaim back in 2001. As well as Pinot Noir, De Ponte is famed for its Melon grape, which is rare throughout the US.  

Oregon
WINTER’S HILL VINEYARD conducts tastings in the winery which is surrounded by a landscape of forest and fields, in Oregon. Pixabay

9.   YOUNGBERG HILL VINEYARDS (10660 SW Youngberg Hill Road, McMinnville OR 97128, 503 472-2727) began farming organically in 2003 and continues to move further in that direction. It is a small, producer of both Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.

ALSO READ: Mindfulness can Reduce Opioid Cravings, Study Says

10.   PENNER-ASH WINE CELLARS (15771 NE Ribbon Ridge Road, Newberg OR 97132, 503 554-5545) sources its grapes from the best Oregon vineyards in Oregon along with its own Estate Vineyard, which with its adjacent winery and tasting rooms boasts some spectacular views. Find out more at www.pennerash.com or @pennerash.