land of rest

Land of Rest is a blog of Peter Jenks. Poems, quotes and photos are by Peter Jenks (unless otherwise noted or I miss noting an older post's photo) and are copyrighted, you are free to use these if you acknowledge their source.

This is also the site where I will be updating and listing the schedule for my radio show, Words of the Morning, which can be heard on WRFR.org on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 7 am until 8 am.

Friday, December 5, 2014

musings on violence in america


With the rise of American culture in the 20th century we also had the rise of the industrial state of mind. Food became mass produced, cars, tools, entertainment, houses, etc. all became mass produced at the lowest cost for the most people. It was wonderful in many ways. But there were costs and we are now paying them.
Our food became more simple, our language became more simple, our music became more simple our government became more simple.
The recent violence in our racial problems is one of racism that has been festering for centuries and effecting minorities in many direct ways,  and they are now speaking up with a desire to change things. The white community was also effected, but has never addressed their issues,  and are only now having to do such under duress.
In the same way we have seen the rise in sexual awareness that has erupted into our news; from church leaders abusing people to recent revelations of celebrities such as Woody Allen and Bill Cosby’s rampant affairs.  Apparently the 60’s and 70’s were a time when sexual boundaries were thrown out the window. It was not a conservative or liberal thing, but a part of a much more nuanced and complex situation.
One small corner of all these problems is the use of power. We have been simplifying our use of power, more and more. And the militarization of the police force is a result of this.
The example I want to use is a situation in an airport recently. I understand that this is just one example and that there is much more to this than I am proposing. But planes were late, connections tight and passengers were getting anxious. Most of the workers at the airport were amazing in their graciousness. But as we were waiting in the tunnel connecting the plane with the terminal for our bags, the line went near to the gate door. Several people were dashing out to check times and gates where they would have to run towards.  A young man who had some sort of airline connection came and assessed the situation and apparently was sent to keep order. His understanding of power was to yell at everyone, and to rise the level of turmoil higher. He immediately yelled at one man who had checked for his gate to stop and that he could not get his bag, it would be given him when all other bags were given out, because he was at the end of the line and crossed out to see the gate number. The police were brought in to arrest him or detain him and he only got more agitated. It was a simplification of power. When confronted with a problem or turmoil use more force quickly to overwhelm the problem. Like dousing a fire with an overwhelming amount of water. This has its place, but when you are one lone man and a more mature use of coercion might be in order was not imagined. Power is simply used to overwhelm, not be in relationship.
Actually, as I write this, I am thinking that all of this leads down to a lessening of our understanding and experiencing of relationships. We have lost extended family connections, we no longer write letters, or call – we might text. We have closer relations to celebrities, personalities or images than actual people. And this would then roll over onto our policing, and our relationship with authority and government. It is only to be expected.
With the return of the local and organic food movement, we need to also add a movement to return to relationships. Young people are not marrying anymore, well the commitment and understandings of being in relationship have consequences. If not marriage, than what? The baby has been thrown out with the bath water, and no one has gone to get or help the baby or bring in new water.
It is interesting in the problems of family and schools becoming more of a problem, we teach sex through porn, policing through violent movies and video games, relationships through sitcoms, cooking through supermarket displays of prepared items.
Houston we have a problem.
Actually, we need epiphanies of communal understandings toward a larger unity to counter the separating forces of technology.  We have been cursed by our blessings for far too long.
All the issues are connected.  The sexual transformation and revelations and the racial transformation and allegations.  We are in changing times, let us process, think and relate with more maturity and dignity than the voices of those paid large amounts of money to keep the flames burning higher, such as television pundits. 

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