Breaking Point – Part 2

December 22, 2012

The forename Sandy is of Greek origin and a variation of Sandra, which is a short form of Alexandra, which is the female form of Alexander. The name Alexander means “defender of men,” and was used in Britain since the early 13th century. Alexander is btw my sons first name.

It doesn’t seem that Sandy is popular with parents and there are not many famous people who bear this name. Sandy Denny from Fairport Convention comes to mind. In the 60s she was one of my favorite singers and it was sad to witness her descent into drug abuse and her early death at the age of 31. Later on Jazz singer Sandy Lomax attracted my interest, I like her voice even better than that of Sandy Denny, though she is not as famous and not widely known.

The name Sandy will probably be even less popular for some time to come.

Recent events were a perfect confirmation and illustration of the post Breaking Point, the following text is an addition and a sequel of Breaking Point.

Hurricane Sandy is rarely mentioned in the media now, but thousands of people living in New York City’s Far Rockaway and Staten Island areas are still without heat, hot water and electricity. They have to line up for warm meals and food. Toxic mold and residue from Sandy’s surge fill their apartments.

The official relief efforts are completely inadequate and FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Administration) hasn’t promised anything until January, at the earliest. Local activists and Occupy Wall Street veterans tried to fill the gap and organized relief efforts on a local level.

If one was not impressed by Occupy Wall Street until now and thought that the movement didn’t live up to the hype, the activities of Occupy Sandy deserve a closer look and a new assessment. 

rebuild the block with us

Occupy Sandy is different and seems to develop into a project oriented grassroots movement. Working together with other local community organizations, Occupy Sandy activists delivered food and basic supplies, conducted mold remediation and picked up hammers and sledges to help rebuild damaged homes.

Thousands of people have volunteered with Occupy Sandy and if the activists continue in this direction and keep up their drive of local social activities they could become a trailblazing movement.


Mayor Michael Bloomberg is not pleased with the grassroots activities. After accidentally landing his helicopter near one of Occupy Sandy’s main community assistance hubs he thanked the volunteers for their hard work, but the next day he ordered Staten Island police to start an eviction on the Occupy Sandy hub at 489 Midland Avenue, in the heavily hit Midland Beach area.

On December 15, Occupy Sandy in cooperation with community members called protests, involving marches and housing rehabilitations. This was followed by a gathering in front of Mayor Bloomberg’s luxurious Manhattan home.

The second Sandy disaster

Comments about the Sandy Hook bloodbath congested media channels, social media, blogs, chartrooms, and other public forums now for one week. Many expositions and analysis were right on, accurate, enlightened, and worth to collect them and publish them in a package.

The comments most times focused only on one single aspect, and that is the reason I undertook it to categorize, sort, connect, and integrate them. The various comments, ideas, notions thereby became pieces of a puzzle that are assembled into a picture.

The categories are:

Children killed by US policies and military actions
The US culture of violence
A sick society
The myth of “the American Dream”
Electronic Media culpability

One comment, coming from Wayne Lapierre, the vice president of the NRA (National Rifle Association), is not sorted in a category, it stands for its own: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. We need to have every single school in America immediately deploy a protection program proven to work — and by that I mean armed security.”

The NRA envisions a “National School Shield Emergency Response Program” where qualified police, military, security personnel and others organize to protect schools.

Former congressman Asa Hutchinson will work with the NRA in a push for armed school guards. His comment: “School safety is a complex issue with no simple, single solution. But I believe trained, qualified, armed security is one key component among many that can provide the first line of deterrence as well as the last line of defense.”

In the USA there are already 1,6 million private security guards and contractors working for corporations and for 12,000 registered security firms. Their number is steadily growing and surpasses the number of police officers, which is 670,000. 

The NRA solution to gun violence is clearly “more guns,” and more security guards. Employing additional security personal would admittedly also ease joblessness, but security guards are not well paid, they earn in average 23,000 US$ a year. 

Suck my Glock 2

Gun violence is not a new problem and not an exclusive US American problem, men all over the world had and have a love affair with their guns since guns exist. The fruits of this love affair become only more apparent and tragic when a society is ailing, when social tensions rise, when aggression and violence become the norm and everybody has to compete with everybody else and defend him or herself by every possible means.

A few thousand additional security guards will not solve the problem of gun violence. There are too many “ticking time bombs” walking down the avenues, lingering in front of computer or TV screens, and preparing themselves for the big showdown on one of the thousands of shooting ranges.

The ticking time bombs will easily outnumber and outgun the security guards.

Hollow point bullets kill better

Adam Lanza used hollow point (soft point) ammunition, which is expanding in the victims body and causes excessive tissue damage. A hollow point bullet hitting the chest will most likely cause death even if it doesn’t reach vital organs. A hollow point bullet hitting a limp will most likely result in an amputation. Hollow point ammunition is prohibited in war by the Hague Convention, but it is widely used by police forces.

Dying from a hollow point bullet wound is not an easy death! It will not take long till the brain stops working but this few moments at the end of the victims life could be extremely painful.

The US Homeland Security and other government agencies are buying large quantities of hollow point ammunition, here are some purchases of 2012:

450 million hollow point ammunition – Homeland Security
750 million high powered ammunition – Homeland Security
200 million sniper rounds – Homeland Security
174 thousand hollow point ammunition – Social Security Administration
85 thousand hollow point ammunition – US Forest Service
187 thousand other ammunition – US Forest Service
40 thousand hollow point ammunition – National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

The US agencies are evidently stocking up this kind of ammunition, which is intended to kill rather than incapacitate a suspect. 

More great gifts

The aftermath of the two “Sandy” catastrophes, the surrounding details and associated issues, the public discussion and new emerging informations all indicate, that US society is under strain. This was known before, but it seems, that whatever happens there is no change in direction, there is no relief of social tensions, there is no paradigm change.

Undeterred, unflustered, undiscouraged, unflinching, uncompromising, unyielding the USA keeps the course.

To what?

The following aspects were missing in the comments:

Unhealthy technologies
Environmental devastation
The tyranny of wealth

 A short explanation of the missing aspects:

Unhealthy technologies

New technology, an artificial environment, and an unnatural lifestyle contribute to rising economical, social, and mental pressure. Many technologies are not well adjusted and not conform to human needs. Humans unquestioning and uncritical developed and embraced them without fully understanding the consequences.

While the downsides are now slowly becoming clear, these technologies have penetrated Western societies to such an extent that abandoning them is nearly impossible without a redirection of social and economic policies and a fundamental change of our lifestyle.

Many technologies make life more complex, are distracting, cause unnatural and unhealthy behavior, and provide comfort only at the price of environmental devastation.

Today the humans in industrial (so called developed) nations live in an unnatural world, surrounded by technical gadgets. Most of the urban population lives in a noisy environment where the senses are overloaded by bright colors, flashing lights, pop music beats, traffic noise, industrial noise, and chemical scents. Humans sit for hours in front of a computer, without sunlight, without fresh air, and without moving much.

A Kaiser Family Foundation study concluded, that the average young US American now spends 44 hours a week with electronic media and is practically every minute — except for the time in school — using a smartphone, a computer, is looking TV, or is playing computer games.

Loud noise evidently creates psychological stress, hypertension and heart disease. Measurements in New York showed levels which never dropped below 70 decibel, even in parks meant to be oases of calm. Levels in restaurants averaged 96 decibel, in nightclubs 99 decibels, with peaks of 106 decibel. 

Young people use their MP3 devices like iPods for several hours a day at volumes that are inevitably damaging their eardrums. In addition to that sound systems in shops, restaurant, cars pound them with Hip Hop dance beats. They will soon suffer from reduced hearing which usually causes social isolation.

Potentially harmful privately used technologies: Cell phones (smartphones), Television, video players and mp3 players, game consoles, electronic sound systems, cars.

Potentially harmful industrial technologies: Biotechnology (genetically modified organisms), fossil fuel extraction (deep water drilling, fracking, mountain top removal) and unrestricted fossil fuel use, surveillance and data mining, some aspects of robotics, aviation, weapons technology, nuclear technology.

Environmental devastation

The pollution of air, water, and soil, environmental degradation, and habitat destruction also contribute to rising economical, social, and mental pressure.

In former times people were able to heal their mental wounds, their mental sicknesses by reconnecting with nature, by retreating to a quiet place, and by meditating. Today a quiet patch of pristine nature is hard to find and many people are simply too agitated and restless to enjoy nature. Even if they had the opportunity they would never seriously consider making a peaceful walk in the woods. 

“Nature Deficit disorder” is a term coined by Richard Louv in his book “Last Child in the Woods,” which describes the trend that children are spending less and less time outdoors. Parents are keeping children in the house to keep them safe from danger and in addition to that there are less natural surroundings in a child’s neighborhood.

Richard Louv argues that the Nature Deficit disorder causes a diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses. Children grow up disconnected with nature, and this broken relationship is making kids overweight, depressed, and distracted.

The condition of “Nature Deficit disorder” is not restricted to children, it also affects an ever growing portion of the adult population, contributing to social tensions and discontent, crime, domestic violence, mental illnesses, obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, allergies, and cancer.

The tyranny of wealth

US citizens are economically squeezed and increasingly dependent on corporations and big private companies. This dependency is achieved by the privatization or destruction of natural support systems (water is either privatized or poisoned, vegetable gardens in front yards are forbidden, small organic farms are polluted by GM seeds) and by the systematic enslavement of the population with loans and mortgages.

In a functioning democracy the by the people elected government would be able to break the stranglehold of the corporations and the “moneyed elite”, but the USA is not a functioning democracy.

US politicians very well understand that Wall Street money and corporate money can either be used to defeat them or to support their campaigns. They also know that if they are sufficiently influential in the right direction, lobbying jobs that are far more financially rewarding than their present occupation await them when they retire from Congress or from state legislative bodies.

The wealth and power, concentrated in Wall Street and in the major corporations, is being used for the enrichment of the already wealthy, which usually means sending jobs and technology abroad, while holding down wages at home.

Who could blame US citizens for their resentment against “big government”, when the US government is nothing else than an obedient servant and an executor for Wall Street and the big corporations?

Nancy Lanza, Adams mother and his first victim, was part of the “prepper” movement, an informally organized network of US Americans who are convinced that looming disasters, ranging from economic collapse, natural disasters, popular unrest, to a Biblical apocalypse, require total self-sufficiency. She was stockpiling food, emergency supplies, and of course weapons.

The “preppers” could be right about a looming economic and social collapse, but their stockpiles of weapons will not save them from tyranny. US authorities are prepared for unrest, the police forces are militarized and equiped with armored personal carriers, grenade launchers, and drones. In 2011 the Department of Defense gave away nearly 500 million US$ worth of leftover military gear to local law enforcement.

A few pathetic guns will not help the “prepper”, when a SWAT team is storming the house after detonating  stun grenades, the guns will not help against mortars, missiles, bombs. 

Christmas Gift Certs

All the here mentioned developments aggravate social injustices and inequalities, increase distress, tensions, animosities, aggressions. All the mentioned aspects make life in the USA more and more difficult (for the average citizen) and convert US society into a pressure cooker that one day may crack, break, even explode.

The following text consists of the sorted comments and as stated before, the various comments, ideas, and notions here are pieces of a puzzle that are assembled into a picture.

(A picture is two dimensional and cannot show all connections and dependencies, but the pieces of this puzzle come from various people who observe the scene from different angles and from their personal point of view, thereby making the picture holographic.)

Children killed by US military and political actions

In 1991, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 687, imposing sanctions on Iraq as a result of its invasion of Kuwait. A study in The Lancet (the journal of the British Medical Association) reported that up to 576,000 Iraqi children may have died since the end of the first Gulf War as a result of the sanctions imposed by the Security Council. UNICEF, in 1999, estimated that at least 500,000 children died who would have otherwise normally lived had it not been for the sanctions in place.

Fallujah was destroyed 2004 in Operation Phantom Fury. It was pounded with white phosphorus, Mark 77 bombs (napalm), and depleted uranium. The city has now 11 times as many major birth defects in newborns than the world average. The increases in infant mortality, cancer and leukemia in Fallujah are greater than those reported in the survivors of the US atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Americans routinely blow up children, and sometimes their schools. I’m not saying that the scenarios are equivalent, but replace the word “shooter” with “drone” and notice how quickly (for some people) the compassion evaporates.

There’s just no denying that many of the same people understandably expressing grief and horror over the children who were killed in Newtown steadfastly overlook, if not outright support, the equally violent killing of Yemeni and Pakistani children.

Every murder committed by the United States government, every murder ordered by Obama, represents to someone a tragedy exactly like Sandy Hook. But it is not someone most Americans happen to know or recognize  as a fellow human being — and it is therefore as if the tragedy never occurred.

The tragedy in Newtown is a situation that people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, and Palestine find themselves in on a daily basis, thanks to the US, and those it supports. The US kills indiscriminately with drones. For the maimed and wounded there is little in the way of medical help, for it too has been destroyed by the Yankeys. In Iraq doctors were specifically targeted.

The misery and torment that befell Newton can be multiplied a thousand fold across the Arab world. American policy and actions have resulted in the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent children. The deaths of these children should be considered as war crimes and a crime against humanity of the highest order.

But in order for that to happen one must first believe that Arabs cry for their children too. 

Papas Christmas

America’s drone policy has reportedly killed between 474 and 881 civilians in the Greater Middle East, including 178 children. Apparently the targeted killing of children is now accepted military practice. Army Lt. Col. Marion Carrington is quoted as saying, “In addition to looking for military-age males, it’s looking for children with potential hostile intent.”

Obama’s administration neither documents nor acknowledges the civilian casualties of the CIA’s drone strikes in north-west Pakistan. But a report by the law schools at Stanford and New York universities suggests that during the first three years of his time in office, the 259 strikes for which he is ultimately responsible killed between 297 and 569 civilians, of whom at least 64 were children.

The wider effects on the children of the region have been devastating. Many have been withdrawn from school because of fears that large gatherings of any kind are being targeted. There have been several strikes on schools since Bush launched the drone program that Obama expanded so enthusiastically.

The study reports that children scream in terror when they hear the sound of a drone. A local psychologist said that their fear and the horrors they witness cause permanent mental scars. Children wounded in drone attacks told the researchers that they are too traumatized to go back to school and have abandoned hopes of the careers they might have had. Their dreams as well as their bodies have been broken.

Obama does not kill children deliberately. But their deaths are an inevitable outcome of the way his drones are deployed. We don’t know what emotional effect these deaths might have on him, as neither he nor his officials will discuss the matter: almost everything to do with the CIA’s extrajudicial killings in Pakistan is kept secret. But you get the impression that no one in the administration is losing much sleep over it.

Most of the world’s media, which has rightly commemorated the children of Newtown, either ignores Obama’s murders or accepts the official version that all those killed are “militants”. The children of north-west Pakistan, it seems, are not like our children. They have no names, no pictures, no memorials of candles and flowers and teddy bears. They belong to the other: to the non-human world of bugs and grass and tissue. 

Daisy Christmas to remember

What applies to the children murdered here by a deranged young man also applies to the children murdered in Pakistan by a sombre American president. These children are just as important, just as real, just as deserving of the world’s concern. Yet there are no presidential speeches or presidential tears for them, no pictures on the front pages of the world’s newspapers, no interviews with grieving relatives, no minute analysis of what happened and why.

We all know that it is impossible that anyone from the media would be allowed to ask President Obama what the difference is between the deaths of twenty or more innocent American children at the hands of a stranger, and the deaths of an even higher number of innocent Pakistani and Afghani children at the hands of joystick-wielding drone operators employed by the CIA.

When Obama’s campaign surrogate and former Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about the US killing by drone strike of 16-year-old American citizen Abdulrahman Awlaki two weeks after his father was killed, Gibbs said, that Abdulrahman should have “had a more responsible father.”

When President Obama expressed his condolences and spoke of being responsible for one another’s children and of giving children the chance to live out their lives in happiness, he may not have considered the children in Pakistan who have lost their lives in US drone attacks.

The president may not have considered the children in Gaza, who died from Israeli-delivered but US-financed bombs, nor the children in Iraq or children anywhere who suffer because of US policies of war and economic strangulation.

He may not have thought of the millions of children who die from hunger every year because of the neoliberal, neocolonial destabilization of the economies of underdeveloped countries.

The US culture of violence

This country is steeped in violence. From its beginnings to its present. We glorify violence, we lionize it, we export it. We blow the brains out of people at home and abroad and then we have the nerve to ask “why?”

The US was built from seized land, land that was taken from the original inhabitants, who were then massacred — children, women, and men. Whole nations disappeared, killed by guns, knives, and an early form of biological warfare, as foreign illnesses were introduced to indigenous people.

Slavery was maintained by the gun and by brutal violence that saw the rise of the first standardized police force, the slave catchers. To this day, it has been violence that has maintained US political and economic hegemony over most of the world.

This country has an ethos of violence, and every institution, from politics to media to entertainment, is responsible. We have a president who kills children daily with his drone program, and who has given himself the right to assassinate any US citizen he simply thinks might be anti-American (no trial by jury or presumption of innocence allowed); we have an entertainment industry that makes billions off the violence it assaults our senses with daily; we have a “defense” industry that is the biggest money pit in history; and we have politicians who stand in front of the entire world and lie just to get us into more useless and unnecessary wars. In light of the death and destruction of families, lives, and property that this country has wreaked throughout the world, do we really expect to evade the consequences of our violence?

Hi standard

You can’t have a military “colossus astride the world” (to quote the late Chalmers Johnson) without the proper cultivation of “martial values” to wage wars, occupy countries, and maintain the archipelago of bases around the planet. There are resources to extract and markets to expand; “the flag follows commerce” as Woodrow Wilson said. (Remember people saying “Iraq is sitting on top of “our” oil.)

These massacres are not merely about mentally disturbed loners or lax gun control laws. They are the logical outcome of an increasingly militarized culture that glorifies violence — whose leaders publicly tout their “kill lists” and their readiness to use armed force to further the “national interest.” We are a gangster nation — we should expect the occasional drive-by massacre.

The United States is a country that rules the world by being masters of violence. We’re not masters of peace or diplomacy… we don’t know how, or just don’t want, to do that apparently. Violence is the sure thing and the faster process. We like sure things and fast results. As long as our answer is a “War on…”, instead of a “Solution for…” we are proudly embracing a primitive hate-based society.

The heated debate doesn’t seem to talk about how 5 percent of the world’s population (the US inhabitants) manufactures 70 percent of the world’s weapons. No, the debate is only centered on controlling or not controlling the population’s choices, while ignoring the fundamental social and economic reality — which is, that the US economy would collapse if we stopped manufacturing weapons, and that violence has become so systematized in our every day lives that it has become like water to a fish.

The USA worships its military. Soldiers, and officers especially, are held in the same sort of esteem as celebrities and Hollywood stars, and there’s no criticisms of the military allowed, cause then you become one of the enemies, adding to the USA’s many enemies, who for some reason just keep growing in number.

I am loath to use yet another tragedy to point out (again) the inherent violence and brutality of our society, from the exploitation of individuals to the decimation of nations. I am not eager to connect it back (again) to the human-initiated violence toward the balance of life on the planet, that vast interconnected web on which our very existence depends. I take no solace in preparing to rant (again) about the culpability of the media, the profligacy of corporate profiteers who put their wealth above everyone else’s health, or about the profound alienation and emptiness of modern life.

If we do not appreciate the basic fact that we are all responsible for all of the world’s children, then there is precious little hope for any viable human future on this world. We simply cannot continue to steal the future from our children, to want only consume the habitat and undermine its inherent resiliency, to seed the world with weapons of mass insanity and the implements of violence that are all too readily available for acts of grave cowardice such as the one we are seeing today — and everyday. 

Santa Suggests

In the midst of this latest national paroxysm of grief, have you heard even one mention of our longstanding national acceptance of corporal punishment of children? Can you recall the last time you heard corporal punishment discussed? Are any major national voices raised in a campaign to outlaw corporal punishment, for the same reasons we outlaw physical assaults on adult human beings? I repeat: CHILDREN ARE HUMAN BEINGS. They are not insensate hunks of matter on which you may unleash your repressed anger and hatred.

The thirst for vengeance does not come from nowhere. It has a clearly identifiable cause. The thirst for vengeance has its origins in infancy, when children are forced to suffer in silence and put up with the cruelty inflicted on them in the name of upbringing. They learn how to torment others from their parents, and later from their teachers and superiors. It is nothing other than systematic instruction by example on how to destroy others. Yet many people believe that it has no evil consequences. As if a child were a container that can be emptied from time to time. But the human brain is not a container. The things we learn at an early stage stay with us in later life.

A sick society

Guns are for paranoid bigots.

Being the first to draw will become more important than talking things out because, who knows, if I offend this guy and he draws on me first, I’m screwed. Not the kind of society I want to live in, but this is the logical outcome in a country where high background stress and insecurity is the norm, and where greed is purposefully stimulated and misnamed “personal drive,”

Every day I watch a hundred little social and interpersonal brutalities and attitudinal cruelties, which seem to go unnoticed by the public at large (though not unfelt, I am sure). And they seem to be growing. Then there is the decay of our social support network and families, the unacknowledged fear permeating this collapsing empire, the exploitation of the citizenry by telling them there is danger at every turn.

The “mass shooting” has become a dominant motif in the production of social relations, the last refuge of the disaffected and unloved, the final epitaph for a culture that has payed far too little attention to its children and the responsibility to ensure for them a positive future.

In a just and sane world, this episode alone would be enough to jolt us out of our torpor and get us to put down all of the weapons of war in our midst. We would reexamine the deep-seated social roots of despair and violence, and take a honest accounting of the ways in which we are all culpable in its perpetuation. We would re-dedicate ourselves to establishing a social foundation based on empathy and compassion, and build our economies and politics around these values. And above all, we would use every peaceful means at our disposal to ensure that our children can play and grow in this world.

christmas sale

 If this shooting is like all the others, the murderer will turn out to be someone who “fell through the cracks” of our cruel society. Of the society that offers judgment where there should be compassion, a beat down where there should be a helping hand, a society of sharks, of quarreling orcs, tearing each other to shreds in a race to sacrifice themselves on the altar of greed and power.

The drone strikes are just the outward manifestation of the same thing. For what difference is there, truly, between an empire as rich and powerful as ours murdering people by remote control to secure yet more power and loot, and a billionaire still ruthlessly pursuing more millions?

There have been many ages, admittedly most of them, where life for the average person was extraordinarily unpleasant but we have perhaps created one today that is uniquely devoid of even the normal pleasures. Throughout history, no matter how terrible living conditions or leadership were, close family and community was pretty much a given, with all the support structure that entails.

People can withstand a lot if they have a sympathetic ear, someone who will listen to their gripes and miseries, and if they have a part in a social unit that makes them feel significant. Many people — particularly these loners who go on shooting sprees — only have their jobs, where it is made abundantly clear that they and their work have no real value, and that they could be replaced at any time. While working the fields in the past was no picnic, there was at least a real sense that the work was necessary and every hand actually needed. Modern society truly fosters a sense that you, as the individual, are utterly superfluous and nobody really wants you or your work. You’re tolerated at best, a kind of parasite (a word the hardcore right loves to invoke).

The increase in mental illness and medication is in large part because life in America is extraordinarily unpleasant.  You live in a militarized surveillance society with no guaranteed health care and with a job market that doesn’t provide enough jobs for those who need it, allowing bosses to treat those who do have jobs like scum, and executives to take virtually all productivity gains for themselves. The economic model is to pile debt on consumers to create rental streams, but constant debt obligations put people under major psychological pressure all the time.

Many people are mentally ill because of our society, but even more people are medicated who are not really mentally ill. People have to be medicated to function because US society requires unpleasant and unnatural behavior virtually all the time. School and work both require people to act in ways that normal, healthy, unmedicated individuals find hard to sustain.

Add to that the fact that social ties have over the last 60 years absolutely collapsed, leaving most people with almost no friend or close family, and it becomes clear that people need to drug themselves to get through their day. They are sick, scared, and lonely. And at the very edges of this, a person occasionally cracks, goes mad and kills a lot of people.

Xmas Colt

People in many Third World countries have to deal with psychopaths all the time — they have to deal with the US military psychopaths who are doing the work of US power elites in these countries right now.

The myth of “the American dream”

Our government has been taken over by the oligarchs; which has resulted in a movement away from a caring, compassionate government to one of mean spiritedness and to a winner take all mentality. So we’re left with a wasteland in which we have to make our way by hook or crook; every person for themselves.

The last vestiges of kindness, the last remnants of compassion are the outpouring of senseless emotions for people we don’t know. There is not much else left for US citizens than a false sense of empathy and grief for acts so horrible that we don’t know what else to do.

“NO ONE needs an assault weapon in a civilized society.” True. But have you noticed, our society is not civilized, it is brutal domination and exploitation, worship of power, killing and wealth, at any cost — forget empathy and go for the kill, that’s more our game.

I came to realize that, in essence, this is the way we in America want things to be. We want our freedom, and we want our firearms, and if we have to endure the occasional school shooting, so be it.

winchester for every purpose

While Lanza may have been surrounded by material trappings, things that the vast majority of people on the planet will never see, his action has proven again, that there is a profound emptiness in just having things and nothing else.

This is a country that holds a quarter of the world’s prison population, yet represents only six percent of the world’s population — manifestation of a system that teaches us to value punishment and revenge over keeping our common society in good repair.

The American Dream: Two cars for every family, a gun under every Christmas tree, and a gun in every classroom.

Electronic media culpability

Many computer games are based on exterminating enemies. Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza is said to have played video games like “Call of Duty” and “Starcraft.” Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the perpetrators of the Columbine massacre, created gaming levels of the video game Doom.

Number of murders seen on TV by the time an average child finishes elementary school: 8,000. Number of violent acts seen on TV by age 18: 200,000 This is indicative of a national pathology: a cult of unabashed, shameless and unmitigated violence!

I keep seeing little pieces of Hollywood choreography with sexy babes, sinister black or shiny chrome weapons, spattering blood, severed limbs, exploding heads… all to an amped up beat, making it look like rockin’ good thrill. Even art has been perverted to serve the violent masters. The gun nuts have these romantic images of themselves in a teenage revenge fantasy, killing bad guys, saving the day, getting the hot babe and the respect and admiration that they crave.

The John and Jane Doe’s living all across the country go to work making 70 percent of the world’s violent weapons that are designed to kill people, then vote for politicians who only solve their problems with violence, then sit down and watch violent movies, while their children play violent video games and watch violent TV shows. And then they wonder why violence happens in the nearby town.

HSDS Guns Promo

Too bad it takes intelligence rather than a gun to figure out that gun culture is a product of the American PR machine. Nothing better than fear about lack of masculinity to get folks running. Tobacco’s Marlboro Man with the big dick is dead but his clones just keep popping up… we are so easily mislead.

This is a world where masculinity is equated with militarism and lack of caring. It is a world where the conservatives and the rest of the men who treat guns like Linus does his blanket will soon be on the media telling you that guns are not the problem. And no media pundit will ever talk about the way we construct masculinity in this insane fascistic, military worshipping country. And of course our movies and TV shows will continue to be full of gun shooting, chasing and killing, and they all will be aimed at the 15 to 30 year old male, the very demographic that tends to be the shooters.

Our society is one of violence and corruption. The violence was not started by Wayne LaPierre or the NRA and melting all guns will not happen until there is no reason to fight anyone anymore. What if we start by putting a stop to violence in video games, movies and television? Maybe if we stop pouring stories about violence into our children’s head we could come closer to a peaceful society.

Unmentioned but perhaps significant is the role played by our entertainment (which is ubiquitous in modern America). Discussing movies, TV-shows, and video games is pretty much all we do socially anymore and much of that entertainment probably contributes to a feelings of low self-esteem. We are inundated with shows full of rich and beautiful people in exciting relationships with other rich and beautiful people living intensely meaningful lives with real accomplishments. Whether it’s about killing the bad guy and getting the pretty girl (most times a wealthy handsome heir), or becoming famous and admired in some other way, our entertainment is constantly showing us examples of life to which our own miserable existences cannot measure up.

Men watch movies full of tough guys who gun down their enemies in a hail of bullets, while in real life most men routinely are humiliated by bosses, embarrassed by wives, kids, and whoever else, never feeling remotely close to the ideal of manhood they’re shown. Likewise women are fed fairy tales where good girls are always supposed to net the perfect husband, have nice children, and live in beautiful homes by the final reel.

Plus there’s all these reality shows that are just open celebrations of beauty and wealth, essentially carrying the message that if you’re attractive and/or rich you can do whatever you want and treat anyone however you wish — and still be a role model. The unstated subtext is that if you’re poor or physically unattractive you really are beneath consideration and completely without value in modern America. It doesn’t matter if you are ethical, smart, virtuous, kind, a hard worker, whatever. If you’re not rich and/or beautiful, you’re a waste.

How can people stay sane in the inhumane depressing belittling world they currently inhabit, while simultaneously having every day hours of this wealth and power fantasy crap shoveled into their heads?




The shooting goes on unabated in the US where two firefighters and two police officers were shot dead on Christmas Eve. Not a big deal it seems as US media hardly mention the incidents.


  1. […] Breaking Point – Part 2 […]


  2. A brilliant, insightful and encyclopedic post, Mato! There is one thing that makes me curious: as you go along, you start writing about “our society” and “our government” referring to the US, although you are not (as far as I know) living in the US or a US citizen. Given that you’re so (rightly) critical of the US, I wonder why you identify with US society in this way. Or do you just see the US as synonymous with “the West,” and so as a denizen of Western Europe, you’re part of that larger category?

    Thanks for your in-depth critique, as always, and wishing you a warm and peaceful Solstice–



    • The second half of this blog post is a collection of comments from various sources, and the authors of these comments refer to “our society” and “our government,” because they are US citizens. I’m glad to cite this comments as a proof that many US Americans are critical of their gun culture.

      You are right in your assumption that I see myself as a citizen of the West, privileged and participating in the exploitation of the rest of the world. I try to reduce my carbon footprint but I will not be able to reach the level of for example a nomadic herder in Niger or Ethiopia. Alone the production of the new (and nearly unused) car in my garage has probably consumed more resources than this herder will use in his or her lifetime.

      So I muddle along, making compromises all the time, trying to avoid further damage, trying to develop my version of a modest, sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle, and telling what I have found out to the ones around me who have still time to listen and reflect.


      • Ah, that explains it, Mato, as far as the compendium of comments go. I think of you as very tuned in to the US, which is probably why you’ve gained so many readers here–reading your posts we are able to see ourselves through the eyes of a very wise and thoughtful outsider, always a good perspective to explore when you’re stuck here in the underbelly of the beast….

        I too am just muddling along as far as personal change goes. I have recently discovered the work of Paul Chefurka (http://www.paulchefurka.ca/) and through him found my way to an article by Dave Pollard that I have been pondering in the past day or so and may write about soon. http://howtosavetheworld.ca/2012/12/20/preparing-for-collapse-non-attachment-not-detachment/

        He summarizes the work of David Roberts and Guy McPherson, who he calls “collapsnks”, this way:

        Not only are we fucked, but it’s coming much sooner than we expected. It’s coming in the first half of this century, not the second. By 2050 life for all but the simplest and most well-protected species on this planet will almost certainly be impossible, except for small numbers in a few marginal areas.

        The whole issue of mitigation and the need for activism is now more-or-less moot. Even if we were to collectively and massively change our behaviour starting tomorrow, it would only delay collapse by a few years, and quite possible make the collapse even more catastrophic. Until recently there was at least a chance that perhaps a combination of behaviour change and the reduced availability of cheap fossil fuels might combine to pull us back from the brink, or at least make a much-changed and simpler life possible for a much smaller population of humans and other creatures. That chance is gone.

        So if this is true (and it may be!) my question is, what should we who are awake to the coming catastrophe be doing with our time? I have been in dialogue with Paul Chefurka on that question this week, and would love to know your thoughts about this question as well.

        Meanwhile, wishing you a peaceful and loving holiday–


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