Re: Opium [was: Re: freelance sysadmining -- superlong -- [WAS: "Red Hat recommends Windows for consumers"]]
On Sat, 15 Nov 2003 16:03:44 -0600
Ron Johnson <email@example.com> wrote:
> Inherently violent society? No, can't be, because the US didn't
> used to be violent. Maybe there was a "latently violent tendency"
> (that's not present in many other societies) just waiting for soci-
> etal breakdown to manifest itself?
that's an interesting idea, the latent tendency to violence. i was
talking with some friends just recently about the phenomenon of soccer
hooligans, those whose reason to live appears to be inflicting havoc and
violence on others, and about the fact that hooligans are not, or at
least only very rarely, an aspect of non-european soccer or other sports
events. in fact, i remember that the father-son assault of a baseball
umpire somewhere in the midwest made the nightly news because it was
quite uncharacteristic of sports fans in the u.s.
i tend to think that both that exertion of violence--the soccer
hooligans--and the sort that occurs in urban u.s.a. are a response to a
sense of helplessness in the face of percieved stress, i.e., that those
who respond so believe that 1) they have no other means at hand to
relieve their sense of frustration, and 2) that there's a sense of shame
or profound indignity associated with the frustration that prevents them
from admitting that and searching out other means of resolution.
a couple of weeks ago, a 16 year old in san francisco was shot dead on a
bus by a bullet gone astray, when one of two others who had been arguing
pulled a pistol and started shooting. i'm pretty sure that, were
handguns as available here in europe as they are in the u.s., there
would be more such incidents here. over here, there simply aren't so
many to go around, and most of those that are here and in the hands of
various fashions of criminals tend to be regarded as tools of the trade,
to be used with extreme prejudice and precision, rather than, as in the
u.s., as a means employed by frustrated juveniles to enhance their
standing among their peers.
the willingness to inflict violence does seem to be a factor of the
narrative of damn near every movie that has come out of hollywood over
the last few years, whether by the antagonist or protagonist (whole lot
of agonisin' goin' on), no matter that the "good guys" win in the end.
that suggests to me that the fear of death, as opposed to acceptance of
its inevitability, is a big factor within the larger culture of
that poor teen in san francisco was, by all accounts, an excellent
person who spent much of his free time engaged in helping others move
beyond the culture of violence that surrounded him in his own community;
which explodes the notion that the good are relieved of the threat of
violent death, no matter what they do. in a certain ironic sense, the
event of violence in that situation is likely that factor by which the
other teen, the one with the gun, justifies his need of the gun, as if
he had long since embraced life by the sword/bullet and saw no other
possible mode of existence.
with that in mind, and taking ron's previous point about the breakdown
of the family structure, it seems to me that the schools are the only
point at which the social damage could possibly be--and pardon the pun--
headed off at the pass. given the columbine situation, in that that
particular school and neighborhood wasn't lacking for cash, it's not
simply a matter of monetary resources--although that is definitely a
factor that requires attention in many communities over there--but one
of common mutual respect. the kids in columbine saw themselves as
outsiders among their peers, and that they could come to regard
themselves as such and eventually behaved as they did does tend to imply
that the notion of common mutual respect was wholly absent at that
school--not that that school is the only one, as evidence by the
recurrence of similar events elsewhere. the same thing happened here in
germany, in erfurt, which tends to support my point that if more guns
were available here, there would be more of the same happening here.
in a sub-thread to this one, somebody mentioned a tribe that got stoned
while waiting for the right fish to happen along--and it's not that i
want to take any stand on pot, here--but the story appealed to me in
that some tribe combines taking care of business with a demeanour that
mitigates the stress of taking care of business. in other words, they
take their time to do what they have to do. a lucky culture, that they
can take their time. kids in the western world these days don't have to
suffer hunger and disease to the extent experienced by those who live in
the less developed parts of the world, but the price of that, these
days, is that they are largely left to their own devices too often,
because, in order to acquire the benefits of our developed societies,
both parents have to bust their asses often in excess of 40 hours each
per week. at the same time, these kids are tasked with learning more and
more, and often in subjects--computer science, applied math--where their
parents, had they the time to be supportive, are not at all versed in.
on top of that, most governments in our developed societies tend to view
education as a privilege and not as a right, and consequently regard
provision for eduacation as a lesser obligation. i cannot understand
in the simplest terms, i have some potted plants, which require water to
survive. if i don't water them, they will quickly become a bunch of dead
leaves. it behooves me, if i value their existence as something other
than potentially dead leaves, to provide them with whatever i can to
maintain that prior existence, given that they cannot do it for
themselves. in the case of the plants, their requirement is simple. in
the case of human children, it's much more complicated, deserving of
much more care and attention, but the question is equally one of whether
or not their existence matters to me.
personally, i find all the reasons ever proposed by anyone anywhere to
justify a denial of common mutual respect to be not merely bogus but
also ridiculously defensive of untenable propositions.
for instance, there is hardly a day goes by where i am not challenged to
accept and acknowledge that any one or another idea that i have in my
head has not yet achieved its full consequence and meaning in my mind;
i.e., there's always more. among us here on the list, is there anyone
who would ever claim to be done with learning? dialogue matters simply
because there are no set rules and no perfect product, regardless of
what anybody tries to sell you. learning is organic. life is organic.
thus, there can be no set plan to surely guarantee a fruitful outcome.
the farmers of the world will always talk of one year and another, in
terms of harvest anticipated, compared to achieved.
we're all just guessing here. our only hope, given that possible latent
tendency to violence, is that we continue to talk amongst ourselves,
wherever we are or come from, and keep in mind that there is no greater
priority or benevolence or achievement than the practice of respect for