Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time: the need for man to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge,aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.
-- Martin Luther King, Jr., Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Stockholm, Sweden, December 11, 1964.
At the time of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, it's appropriate to examine his theme of non-violence in the context of today's world.
Non-violence was a major proponent of his message to America. King called it a philosophy a principle that needs to be taught. He even offered classes in non-violence for his potential marches.
The idea of non-violence as a principle that needs to be taught is an interesting concept. In other words, non-violence is not intuitive to our human nature. Therefore maybe here in America we need some classes. Maybe we need to be taught the principles of non-violence, Maybe that is what is wrong here?
Because something is desperately wrong. In our country, violence is an epidemic. We hear about the violent shootings of masses of people, like the recent shooting in Tucson, Arizona, and everyone seems upset for a moment and then that is it; it's back to business as usual. Often there is momentary talk of gun control, of helping the mentally ill; but soon enough it is forgotten.
Most epidemics require an immediate response. At even the mention of a flu epidemic or a virus epidemic top specialists are called into action, money is spent on research, vaccines are created; general panic takes over in our efforts to curb the epidemic.
In this epidemic of violence however, we are silent; and tacitly condoning. The Bureau of Statics show that although the amount of violent crimes has decreased somewhat since King's day, it is still astronomical, and worse, the statistics which show that 60 percent of the crimes committed are committed with fire arms. This is clearly evidence of an epidemic.
Using my previous analogy, if this were a flu epidemic in which 60 percent of the sickness was caused by a flu virus, the country would be in a state of alarm and panic. But we are not.
It is almost as if we have been brainwashed. Brainwashed by the NRA, (National Rifle Association) and by our unnatural enraptured love with the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the right to bear arms. Here are more statistics evidencing the extent of the effects of gun violence:
Roughly 16,272 murders were committed in the United States during 2008. Of these, about 10,886 or 67% were committed with firearms.
Based on survey data from the U.S. Department of Justice, roughly 5,340,000 violent crimes were committed in the United States during 2008. These include simple/aggravated assaults, robberies, sexual assaults, rapes, and murders. Of these, about 436,000 or 8% were committed by offenders visibly armed with a gun.
But even in light of these statistics, the reticence to do something about the guns which cause our epidemic illness is astounding.
The recent slaughter in Tuscon, which caused a Congresswoman of the United States to be shot in the head; and the death of a nine year old child is not enough to makes us even take a second look at the epidemic of violence.
So maybe we do need training as King said. Maybe we do need classes. Maybe we need training in public debate that does not require the use of violent metaphors or vitriolic language. Maybe we need workshops in talking to one another. Maybe we need classes in the 2nd Amendment it's history and purpose?
Maybe we need all of these to adopt the philosophy of non-violence espoused by Dr. King. Perhaps a series of town hall meetings on fighting the epidemic of violence which are both educational and thoughtful. Perhaps, on line computer training on the philosophy of non-violence; or a news series featuring the MSM, main stream media for educational purposes.
We can likely come up with creative ways of implementation of teaching non-violence; the question is though, what will be the catalyst to make this a reality?
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