Violence ends with vigilance
Watching the evening news or scanning newspaper headlines reveals increasing reports of violence. Each week, violent crimes is becoming more prevalent and turning more horrific. Even the manner in which the crimes are committed reeks of audacity and a total lack of respect for human life.
Local and national news outlets last week reported the stabbing death of 39-year-old Tina Davila, who was killed as she stood in front of a Houston-area cell phone store last Wednesday. Last week, The Houston Chronicle reported gang members in San Antonio were involved in a car chase and fired machine guns during a chase, which ended near a high school where a machine-gun armed suspect fired rounds into the head of the man being chased.
Even as I wrote this, CNN-online reported a pregnant bank teller in Indianapolis was shot in the belly during a robbery attempt.
When do these tirades of violence end? Unfortunately, they probably never will. To seek refuge from such violence, one has to retreat to, a lightly populated island or just head for the hills of someplace like North Dakota or Montana. Isolation seems to be the key – if no one else is around but you, no one will commit a violent act.
However, if everyone looked for a solitary residence there would hardly be enough space to accommodate all those seeking to shelter themselves in a private setting free from violence.
Perhaps arming oneself is the answer. Yes, we should all carry firearms to protect ourselves from violent acts. Exchanging gunfire with violent offenders on city streets seems to be the most direct route in fighting crime. Police officers will welcome the help, and crime scene units will work tirelessly collecting all fired rounds and spent shell casings in an effort to present evidence in court that a citizen who opened fire at an armed criminal followed the letter of the law.
While this sarcastic argument for carrying a gun may not be the ideal way to fight widespread violence, there really is no other way to combat the horrific acts reported on a daily basis. If some street punk walks up to you waving a knife, pulling out a gun and sticking the barrel in his face seems optimal in getting him to back down.
What other way is there to reach someone who has no respect for the law or human life?
Kids are now videotaping beatings they perform on fellow students and broadcasting the footage online, so trying to teach children at an early age the ills of violence does not seem to be the way to go.
Plastering mug shots of offenders on the evening news with details of their deeds and the outcomes – does little in curtailing horrific crime from occurring on an almost daily basis.
When kids see beating a fellow student as entertainment and criminals tuck tail and head for Mexico in the hopes of avoiding the death penalty, it is time to say society at-large has failed its members.
Where is the breakdown? Who is to blame? Parents have to work longer hours and more jobs in order to sustain families in this time of economic uncertainty, leaving children unsupervised for more hours of the day; thereby giving kids free time to commiserate with similar youths and develop a lawless mentality.
School children have to fear attack while walking to school, and even if they make it there safely, can be preyed upon by classmates.
Law enforcement can only act after a crime has been committed. Police departments can only search for criminals after the fact, and court systems can sentence in the hope offenders rehabilitate themselves.
Hope. What a word – it brings about expectation, optimism, anticipation and possibility. When he came to this country in 1630, John Winthrop had hoped to establish a model society for all others to look to. Winthrop’s notion of "a city upon a hill" is still the ideal that presidential candidates promise to make America.
Our country is far from being ideal, but this does not mean all is lost and it is time to expatriate. Ernest Hemingway once said, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." It is not fine, in fact, but it could be.
We cannot just hope anymore, and the answer does not lie within the Oval Office or one elected official. We as a society have to band together and work toward eradicating violence. Whether it involves phoning, writing or e-mailing all elected officials into enacting harsher sentences for violent offenders, explaining to a child the difference between Hollywood-style violence and the real thing or getting involved when we witness first-hand a vicious attack – the catalyst for change rests on the shoulders of each and every one of us.
Changing the channel will not make violence obsolete. Only through action can true change be affected.
Lopez, a post-baccalaureate English student, can be reached via [email protected]