Violence pervasive in American culture, society


Through pure example by action alone, the Bush administration has demonstrated its version of morals during its term and a half in office, and their ethical code can be summarized as follows: Honesty and integrity are not important if they get in the way of what you want to do. Human life is not as valuable as political ideology. Cooperation is a sign of weakness. Power is money, money is everything, and the rich will inherit the Earth. The natural environment is interminable and resources can and should be wasted and exploited.

Perhaps this ties into the scenario that for a developed, first-world country, violence and aggression seem to be big parts of our national culture here in the United States. This observation was clarified pointedly by the experience of my younger brother, who recently returned from a month-long trip to the United Kingdom. While there, he noticed one thing in particular that characterizes Americans and renders them distinct from Europeans is the fixation with guns and second amendment rights. This sort of mentality seemed to him to be largely absent from modern European daily life, so much so that it is something that they mock us for.

The “kill or be killed” frame of mind that seems to perpetuate our national consciousness (and economic structure) is uncivilized and socially unsustainable, ultimately. This is something herds of animals are aware of, but we can’t seem to figure out. Nothing reflects this better than the new federal budget, which more or less takes from the poor and helpless and gives to the bloated war and fear mongers.

While the Pentagon will enjoy a nearly 5 percent increase in funding, which does not even include funding for the Iraq and Afghan wars, funds were cut for the most vulnerable members of our society. Those who can least afford another hit: poor, working women and their children, and the sick and elderly.

This looks bad. OK, it doesn’t look bad. It is bad. Big men with big guns, big bellies and big pockets get more, while little sick kids with single mothers on welfare get less. What does that say about our government? What does it say about our country and our society? Most importantly, how does it translate to the way in which the members of our society behave as individuals and as a whole?

The administration has set a silent example for the rest of us, whether we realize it or not, and maybe this can account for the violence that plagues American life.

Bethania Palma can be reached at