Transforming Violence, Transforming Culture

When a child comprehends something new and interesting, they are opened to wonder, excitement, and awe. Novel experiences encourage creativity, expand awareness, and diversify interests, and when we are young, the whole world is exciting and new. As we grow older though, our hearts often become hardened to the discovery of mystery and we can become oblivious to our innate spiritual nature. When the skeptical, rational mind emerges in the teen years and persists through adulthood, we are made completely impervious to the emotional vibrations that keep us in touch with our true selves. We learn to restrict our emotions, and often we just concede that the world is a threatening, brutal place that we cannot change or control in any way.

Add to all of this the continuous exposure to violence on every front, from sensationalized media reporting of murderous acts to explicit popular music and vicious video games, to the daily reality of domestic violence that many children are subject to, and it is easy to see why we eventually become desensitized. And it is not just that we become desensitized to witnessing or even experiencing violence, but we are also anesthetized by it, and eventually many of us end up being simply apathetic toward just about everything. We are also increasingly becoming disconnected from our social structures and the processes by which we elect officials and representatives to hopefully move our society forward, reconfigure our laws, and address our social issues; and the prevalence of violence in our culture is one of the main culprits. We attempt to solve our domestic political issues with police force, we try to settle international disputes with military action, and even our most popular sports are centered around violence.

This constant exposure to cruelty, fighting, and and destructiveness often causes us to become fragmented and disenchanted, disillusioned and disengaged. This can turn into depression, hopelessness, anger and rage, which we will most likely take out on ourselves in acts of self-deprecation. But too often we take it out on each other, which is most likely why we have so many mass shootings nowadays, and also why we have such a problem with police brutality as well. The general public has become so skeptical and distrustful of authority and their media messages, that our encounters with police officers are tense to say the least. Our interactions with politicians are almost non-existent, even on the local level, where citizens should be most actively engaged. However, the average American’s’ political life is a tenuous situation, where distrust and distaste for the corrupted political process has lead many to give up their rights and responsibilities by eschewing the voting process altogether.

Consequently, we are now living in a time and place where many things are changing at an astounding pace. Technology advances more quickly than the average person can even hope to keep up with and the socio-political landscape is also beginning to take a different shape as well. Though it’s hard to tell, if you rely on television news or newspapers for information still, but change is coming from the bottom up, with or without any political leadership. For many years now, possibly even since the inception of widespread news media sources, it has been painfully obvious that our media outlets are all bought and sold by lobbyists and pressure groups that represent specific social and political interests. Essentially every major news source in our country has an agenda to uphold and is more representative of some sort of political propaganda machine than any source of unbiased information. More and more, Americans are finding this to be true and it is evident in movements such as #BlackLivesMatter, #SayHerName, #MarriageEquality, #Occupy, and in #Legalization efforts for decriminalizing marijuana for recreational use and creating medical marijuana programs in states that don’t already have one in place. People are realizing that our political institutions are broken and the corporate-owned media aren’t telling the whole story, and they’re taking to the streets and social media to protest and let everyone know that we must demand change and take up the challenge to create it ourselves.

Amidst all of these issues and changes happening right now, the common thread that can tie it all together is the decriminalization of cannabis. Often, police interactions begin with the suspicion that a person is in possession of drugs. And of all the substances that could lead to incarceration, cannabis is most often the one that causes the problem. But the thing is, cannabis is a plant. It grows from a seed (which is also edible and highly nutritious), and becomes a beautiful green aromatic plant that is pleasant just to smell and to see. How did we ever become so afraid of such a wonderful green growing thing? Propaganda, mostly. The whole “Reefer Madness” exploitation film phenomenon of the 30’s and 40’s really set the tone for marijuana misinformation during the last century. And of all the false accusations against the plant, one of the claims it made was that it causes people to be violent, of all things. If we would just get over these distorted notions that cannabis is somehow evil and stop perpetrating violence on people just for possessing the plant, we’d be well on our way to a much more equitable and peaceful society.

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About Evan Farmer (81 Articles)
Father of four beautiful boys, the first two of which are twins...husband, artist, writer, barista, and a reluctant entrepreneur; my wife Koren and I own Cuppa - Handcrafted Coffee and Espresso Creations, which is located in downtown Jackson, MI. I'm also a freelance writer and WordPress web developer, a bicycle enthusiast and an avid gardener.
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