Just another day in gunner’s paradise…
Another day, another shooting. I would imagine if this continues, and I fear it might, that Americans will become desensitized—if they haven’t already. Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, Oregon, Newtown, Albuquerque, and now Houston. Of course there will be those that say, well, at least it wasn’t a massacre. Hmm…
The problem is, they’re all linked by three things: guns, violence, and rage.
We as a society have to ask ourselves, why is it that our neighbors to the north, Canada, have guns, hunt, watch the same TV shows and movies as we do—why do we have a level of violence that is simply not on par with the rest of the Western world? And if we look to the Eastern world, like Japan; they not only watch our movies, but many Japanese films and certainly video games that are much more violent. But, they don’t have the guns.
So those of us on the left propose to reduce the type of guns our society, which is obviously very violent and filled with rage—has access to. Those on the right say that won’t stop gun violence. And they’re right. It’s a piece of a much needed, comprehensive, multifacted approach to save our kids, our future, and dare I say our country, from…ourselves.
Now some on both the left and right will blame mental illness. Sorry folks, not everyone who’s violent, enraged, owns a gun, and uses it suffers from mental illness. And with the National Rifle Association and others on the right pushing back on ideas such as tougher background checks, like at gun shows. Well, I guess we’ll keep those mentally ill types pretty well armed.
And of course there are the movies, television, and video games. As someone who lives in Los Angeles and lives about 20 minutes from La La Land (a.k.a. Hollywood), let me explain something to you: Hollywood’s a business. And businesses care about one thing: money. Their bottom line. Here’s a simple, little economic principle: supply and demand. You think the movies and TV shows our kids are watching are too violent? Then stop buying tickets. If you line up en masse for those cute romantic comedies and ignore the more violent Terminator-type films, Hollywood will supply you with what you demand.
So since some say we can’t blame the guns, some say we can’t blame the people owning the guns, some say it’s the mentally ill but don’t want further controls and certainly don’t want to pay for any type of mental illness programs or hospitals or medications—since we’re the ones buying those violent video games, TV shows, and movies, what’s left?
Look in the mirror.
As the parent or a 4 and 5 year old, I notice that the way I handle my stress is the way they handle theirs. They’re imitators. So for every parent out there that’s watching Die Hard or The Godfather in front of your toddler and you think they’re too busy playing with their Elmo, think again. Their brain is absorbing that flick, frame by frame. And for those of you who knock out a wall, or perhaps your wife or girlfriend every time you get ticked off, our kids are watching.
America, we are responsible for those that died. For ignoring our culture of rage and violence far too long…and for not correcting those behaviors within ourselves. This isn’t just systemic, it’s epidemic. So what are we as a nation going to do about it?
By: Leslie Marshall, U. S. News and World Report, January 23, 2013
Why does the United States have two political parties that espouse such opposing philosophies? The Republicans fight for the conservative ideals of “individual rights — and the responsibilities that go with them,” from which flows the belief in limited government and few regulations. Democrats argue for the liberal notion that “we also rise or fall as one nation … I am my brother’s keeper, my sister’s keeper,” from which derives the support for social-assistance programs and universal access to health care. Why do these two parties — and the divided populations they represent — see “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” so differently? Is it cultural, or is there something innate in our biology that explains these differences?
Scientists have spent the last decade examining the physiology of political thought, but they have only succeeded in identifying the symptoms and not the root cause. So, forget about the MRI studies showing that Democrats and Republicans respond differently to fear, with greater or less blood flow to specific parts of the brain. Ignore the finding that conservatives have enlarged amygdalas, the part of the brain associated with anxiety and emotions, but that liberals have a larger anterior cingulate, which is associated with optimism. Skip over the research that says we inherit our politics from our parents. They all tell us the “how,” not the “why.”
The underlying reason for the eternal conflict between Republican “individual rights” and Democratic “we’re all in this together” is explained by a radical and magisterial theory of evolution outlined in Edward O. Wilson’s groundbreaking new book The Social Conquest of Earth. Wilson, who has dominated evolutionary thinking for the past 40 years, has synthesized a lifetime of work into a “theory of everything“. Greatly simplified, his argument is that two rival evolutionary forces drive human behavior: first, individual selection, which rewards the fittest individuals by passing along their genes; and second, group selection, in which the communities that work best together come to dominate the gene pool. Wilson argues that these two evolutionary forces are at work simultaneously, so that both self-serving and altruistic behaviors are constantly competing at the individual and at the group level. As he explains, “Members of the same group compete with one another in a manner that leads to self-serving behavior …. At the higher level, groups compete with groups, favoring cooperative social traits among members of the same group.” In other words, individuals with self-serving behaviors beat altruistic individuals, while groups of altruists beat groups of individuals with self-serving behaviors.
Extending this evolutionary theory, two competing forces are at work within the political organism: the “Republican genotype,” which favors individualistic behaviors, and the “Democratic genotype,” which favors altruism. Both forces are simultaneously at work at the individual and group levels. Different individuals — and different groups — will respond more or less to each of these forces depending upon the political and economic environment. The physiological differences between Democrats and Republicans in fear response, anxiety, etc., are simply symptoms of these competing genetic influences, and not the root cause of their divergent political beliefs.
If this theory is correct, it should be applicable not simply to Democrats and Republicans but to political parties around the world — that is, the general political structure of nations should split roughly into the “individualistic” versus “altruistic” models. In fact, most liberal democracies (i.e., where the voting is actually free and fair) have either a two-party system or a multi-party system having a dominant and a minority coalition, the two sides of which tend to split along those themes. In Britain, the Conservative Party argues for “putting more power in people’s hands” while the Labour Party highlights “social justice and strong community.” In France, the right-wing UMP (Nicolas Sarkozy’s party) puts individual “liberty and responsibility” front and center, while the Socialist Party (of François Hollande) believes that social equality requires the “redistribution of resources and wealth.” In Japan, the right-wing Democratic Party “values people’s individuality and vitality,” while the left-wing Liberal Democratic Party begins its constitution with a call for the “prosperity of mankind.”
Wilson’s theory of group and individual selection also accounts for the fact that political parties wax and wane in strength and influence, but that neither faction ever achieves total dominance. As he states, “The victory can never be complete; the balance of selection pressure cannot move to either extreme. If individual selection were to dominate, societies would dissolve. If group selection were to dominate, human groups would come to resemble ant colonies.”
In other words, Democrats and Republicans are not two sides of the same coin, but rather different parts of the same genome. One cannot dominate the other, nor can either live without the other. Like it or not, the two parties are condemned to coexist with one another.
By: Larrie D. Ferreiro, The Atlantic, June 11, 2012