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Posted: August 10, 2019

A violent country on the skids to failure and irrelevance

“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner

Op-Ed Commentary

“In God we trust.”

That’s what it says on each and every American coin I’ve ever seen including the lowly Lincoln penny first struck in 1909 and still circulating in the millions to this day. The word “Liberty” is also emblazoned on these coins named after Abraham Lincoln, the man generally considered the greatest U.S. President (if Americans can agree on anything these days) and a God-like figure to most Americans since his tragic assassination in the wake of the civil war.

How ironic would it be if Lincoln, a gun victim, could be brought back to life to view the gun carnage raging in the country today. Carnage that has taken the lives of four US presidents in office including him and the lives of virtually thousands of American citizens ever since more than the number of soldiers killed in all of America’s numerous wars.

How bad is it? No one can say for sure, but even a brief glance at the pages of the American Gun Violence Archive will give you a sickening idea. If you’re having a bad day, you might want to do something else at this point. What follows are the authentic numbers. You can draw your own conclusions

As of Aug. 9, 2019, some 8,972 gun-deaths have been recorded in the U.S., which works out to 41 gun killings-a-day in the most heavily armed nation on Earth. But that’s not the most shocking figure.

The Gun Violence Archive also reports that as of July 31 this year there were 248 mass killings by people wielding guns in the U.S., which works out to 1.2 mass shootings-a-day where at least four or more people were killed. And that’s not even counting the August total of 31 people gunned down in less than 24 hours in Dayton and El Paso, which skews the gun death totals even higher.

Clearly something is dreadfully wrong in the United States of America. And we have no reason to be complacent in Canada because we’ve had more than our share of horrific gun mass killings too.

Theories are all over the map. Mental illness, racism, radical religious beliefs, violent video games, drugs, a sense of futility or anomie felt by many young men who seem to have lost their way in our increasingly complex society where people seem to be losing their moral compass. Probably all these factors are involved to some degree, but some things clearly stand out.

Clearly this is a male malady. I’ve never heard of a female mass shooter though someone will probably prove me wrong. But young men at loose ends, unemployed, unwed, unmotivated and under-educated is a recipe for trouble. Put them in the basements of their stressed out, two-parent working families with little time for them while they surf the Net becoming addicted to a vile stew of hate, pornography, violence, xenophobia, war games and racist web sites and you have an even more dangerous recipe for the next potential shooter.

And he could be the boy next door. The quiet one without many friends who always keeps to himself and is engrossed in social media, his devices and the symbolic killing fields of the Net. The killing may be symbolic, but in the mind of someone who is angry and depressed already, it’s a dark, depraved world that can turn an otherwise normal individual into a soulless killer intent on creating his own twisted view of reality.

As we’ve noted already, it doesn’t just happen in the U.S. It happens world-wide, but much more often in the volatile country to the south of us where politics have become deadly polarized, the middle has fallen out of civil society and grievances weaponized. And with a racist, sociopathic bully for a president and more guns than people within its borders and little firearm regulation, is it any wonder that the U.S. society is unravelling into bunker-like islands of fear and hatred and paranoia threatening to engulf the entire country?

Sorry to be so bleak about a country that I once greatly admired – and still do so at times – but as Trotsky once said is threatening to sink into the “dustbin of history” if they don’t find a cure to the disease destroying them.

– Gerry Warner is a retired journalist who hasn’t given up on the U.S. yet, but is regretfully contemplating it.

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