Unarmed Person in a Violent Culture

Unarmed Person in a Violent Culture

Although we don't like to hear it, violence is deeply rooted in American culture. During my trip in Turkey, I saw a news story on TV that is beyond imagination here in the U.S. An unstable young man takes off with the pistol of a bank security guard, and cops corner him by the seashore. The erratic man then starts firing in the air at irregular intervals, and cops simply wait - counting bullets - until he has used up the last bullet. They then walk up to him and arrest him. All I could think of was, if that dude was here in the U.S., he would have had 40 bullet holes in him before he had a chance to raise the gun in the air.

So why is America so violent? No one seems to have a satisfactory answer. Some are blaming the gun culture. Others blame Hollywood or violent video games. According to a Harvard Study by Ichiro Kawachi it's "income inequality" that is the culprit. Whatever it is, we are violent society, but we don't like to admit it.

In the new age of terrorism, most of U.S. media is ranting about how violent Muslim cultures are. But, according to the University of California at Berkeley political scientist Steven Fish, Muslims seem to be less violent than non-Muslims: "Predominantly, Muslim countries average 2.4 murders per annum per 100,000 people, compared to 7.5 in non-Muslim countries. The percentage of the society that is made up of Muslims is an extraordinarily good predictor of a country's murder rate.". Now, that's interesting.

I like the idea of an "unarmed person" who is dangerous only because of what he or she knows. As Gene Sharp summarizes, "By placing confidence in violent means, one has chosen the very type of struggle with which the oppressors nearly always have superiority".
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