On Violence and Education in America


By Matt Halvorson

Another summer is already winding toward its sunset. The Trapper Keepers are flying off the shelves yet again. It’s officially “back-to-school” time.

In Seattle, we start later than most places — the Wednesday after Labor Day this year — and even still, my kids’ days of sunshiney freedom are numbered.

Of course, going back to school in this day and age has taken on a quietly terrifying aspect that I don’t recall as a kid growing up in Fargo: the question of where and whether the next mass shooter will strike.

No place and nobody seems to be off limits, although the religious right and the Trump regime have emboldened fear-based violence that targets people of color, immigrants, specific religious groups, women, LGBTQA folks, journalists, and basically anybody. So, it’s a pretty strange, scary time. Let’s just be honest.

“Education,” said Gilbert K. Chesterton, “is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.”

What values are we truly passing on right now? What does our system of education say about our soul?

We need change, and we need healing. Below are a couple thoughts I borrowed (with permission) from folks in our interweb community. What thoughts come to mind for you when we talk about violence in our schools and in our country?

“If you support people who support Trump, you are putting my son in danger. Period.”

By Jefflin Breuer

I just want to say this: if you support people who support Trump, you are putting my son in danger. Period. I don't give a shit if you like them or if they are otherwise nice people. They are voting for a racist, xenophobic, fascist. You are complicit.

My child goes to school in a mostly Black, mostly Muslim, mostly immigrant public school, and frankly, I'm afraid for the lives of the children that go there. If you have friends who support this administration, you are putting these children in danger. This has been proven in the written manifestos of the recent mass shooters.

“Maybe it’s not just a gun problem.”

By Zach Scheet

A semi-automatic AK-47 typically costs just less than $1000 in modern America.

I bring this up because that is also how much Timothy McVeigh spent on the Oklahoma City bomb. He killed 168, and it could have been much worse. He tried to limit civilian casualties — his grievances were with the government.

There is a reason mass shootings tend to only happen in America. In the rest of the world, when someone wants to kill as many people as possible, they use a bomb. Don't believe me? Then why is it the London bombing, the Bali bombings, the Madrid bombing, etc., and not the... shootings?

It was every week in the mid-90s that the tiny “World” section of the local paper had a story about another bomb going off in a cafe or on a bus in Israel. It won't stop — the killing I mean — as long as people look at it as a "gun issue" without looking hard at the real issues: mental health, poverty, a lack of empathy, and the fact that as a nation we are indoctrinated not to value human life.

Before you disagree with that last statement, just remember: it's really hard for your government to wage war across the planet if it indoctrinates its citizens to value all life. There's a reason why Tibet doesn't have an army.