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Our Culture of Violence is a Result of Americans (So Far) Not Having to Face Reality

Here's something to grouse about

Now Saudi Arabia is deliberately bombing schools and hospitals in Yemen, using jets and ordnance supplied by the US, and has created the world’s biggest cholera epidemic, which is killing innumerable children and old people, while also using cluster bomb weapons manufactured and sold to its military by the US -- weapon known to primarily kill children and other civilians. There have been some Al Qaeda people operating in Yemen, so we have to destroy the country, we’re told. And so we turn away and watch our football game, complaining that some of the players are disrespecting the flag to protest police brutality against black people.

There is no end to this kind of self-justifying murder and mayhem on the part of our government, or to the lusty support of most US citizens, for whom the words “bomb the shit out of them,” or “bomb them back into the stone age” are on the tip of the tongue, ready to be uttered at the slightest provocation. No thought is given to what that sentiment really means in human terms.

Thinking back to my own childhood, I remember when I was 11 wanting nothing more than to own a gun. I have no idea why I wanted one. I was brought up loving animals and was not an aggressive kid or a bully. We had a dog, three cats, a Shetland pony, a goat and several chickens, and for a while several pet young raccoons and a pet bluejay that I had raised from a fallen nestling. I loved them all, and I loved wildlife in general.

But I wanted a gun, and when I was 12, my parents agreed to let me buy one — a beautiful Remington single-shot .22 rifle. I had to save up for it and pay for it myself. Then I used to ride my bicycle two miles to the local hardware store to buy a box of bullets for it. Back then in the 1950s, there was no age limit in Connecticut for owning a gun or for buying the ammo for it. Initially I bought the cheapest short shells that had hardly any power. Then I started buying long-rifle shells that had substantially more power and range. Finally I discovered hollow-points, where the lead projectile had a little hole drilled in the nose that caused the bullet to expand upon impact, increasing significantly the destructiveness of the little projectile.

My friends and I used to love to go out into the woods with our guns and try to use our hollow-points to shoot down small trees. The trick was to stand back 20 feet or so from some tree that had a trunk diameter of maybe four inches, and then to accurately shoot holes into it in as close to a horizontal line as possible until the tree tumbled over. Exciting destructive stuff for a kid.

I’m not sure when the temptation came to actually kill something, but it eventually happened. If I remember right it was when I was out shooting randomly at selected inanimate targets with one of my best friends and we spied a bird perched on the top branches of a very distant tree. The bird was so small as to be unidentifiable to us. We decided to see who was the best shot. My friend fired and missed. I took a bead on the bird, fired, and watched in smug satisfaction as it fell to the ground.

We rushed off to find it, but the tree was so far off that by the time we got there, my victim was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps I had wounded it, and it had managed to flutter off into the underbrush to die, or maybe some small predator had carried its body off before we got there. In any event, I didn’t have to witness the reality of what I had done, so I felt nothing but pride at my superb marksmanship.

story | by Dr. Radut