Do you listen?
March 11, 2009

Just what the hell is going on anyway?

A preacher was shot Sunday in the next state over. Late yesterday at least 10 people were killed in Alabama. This morning at least nine have been killed in a town just north of Stuttgart, Germany.

Are these events happening more frequently or is the media reporting them more frequently? I can see the pieces of a perfect storm gathering ... and I wonder.

When I was in high school, the "R" word had been thrown around (recession). Times were supposedly hard, but being from an oil-rich state, we didn't really notice. Most of the families I knew were white collar ... and above it all. But I had several friends from junior high on whose families were not white collar, whose families were struggling. And, because my parents were so incredibly tight with money, I assumed we were struggling as well. After all, why else would my mother decide to make my clothes as I started junior high? And learn to cut hair using my sister's head? (And thank all you hold dear I was not the guinea pig for that little experiment. I had enough problems socializing in school without that burden to bear as well. In fact, one of my "nicknames" in high school was Supercuts as it was. *sigh*)

At any rate, I began wondering in high school about the difference between the very rich and the very poor. I paid attention in history classes, you see, and I tended to be more of a "big picture" thinker than paying attention to the tiny detail of exact dates.

Historically, as the numbers of the poorest rise and the wealth levels of the richest increase, the more likely there is to be bloodshed. The poor overthrow the rich (or attempt to) and try to either even things out, or just snag the riches for themselves.

We are rather greedy by nature it seems.

There's not been a serious length of history with the kind of middle class we have in the industrial/digital world now. There's no historical analog that I know of ... and of course, I only had history as a minor in college, so I could be missing something.

But I am beginning to wonder if these isolated violent rebellions are the consequence of a middle-class which now feels downtrodden. So many people have heard and internalized that "you can do anything, you can be anything" and they've taken it to heart. But what hasn't been internalized is that you have to work for these things, that they are not handed to you. And when these "entitlement folk" see someone born to a wealthier family or a celebrity and assume that "that person is lucky," that they just had it handed to them, that they don't deserve it ... the anger builds.

How many times have I heard, "she doesn't deserve what she has" ... "I worked hard all my life and life has shit on me. What did I do to deserve this when he has it so easy?

And if there is no release, if things worsen instead ... that anger has to erupt somehow.

Now, while everyone is tense about the economy, people are getting more and more angry. Some of it is well directed at jackasses like Madoff. Some of it has no focus.

And I'm afraid that there will be more and more of these tiny eruptions of violence, not just because of the economy, but because so many people feel that they are not heard. Their anger is not heard. Their fear is not heard. No one helps them.

From Columbine to Virginia Tech, that seems to be the clarion call. Someone hear me, pay attention to me, make me feel that you are listening and caring.

It chills me.

I remember having to sit next to Chris Caverns every six weeks in homeroom one year. He was a bit of a creepy kid and no one seemed to like him. After the third six weeks ... half way through the year, I finally decided to ask my teacher why in the bloody hell she kept putting me next to this creep. Particularly after he talked of blowing up a tree at the school with a couple of D cell batteries and some spare wires. (I told him that's not how bombs worked and the circuit wasn't really going anywhere. I think I even checked out a book on electricity to show him.)

"Because you listen to him. That's all he really wants, is someone to listen to him."

I often wonder what became of him. Did my listening in homeroom class help him enough to avoid his becoming one of these desperate shooters? Did he find other people to hear him?

Why aren't we listening more to each other? How do we slow down these bursts of violence?

I don't have the answers.

But I'm still willing to listen.

Posted by Red Monkey at March 11, 2009 6:44 AM | Struggles | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |

 

Tara R. said:

The Alabama shootings happened very close to where I live. It shocked everyone. It was so random, so savage. It's scary that these sorts of violent outbursts are becoming more and more common.

March 12, 2009 10:41 PM

 

Alan said:

It does seem as though random awful violence is on the rise and certainly I think that economics has something to do with it. And Lord knows you are right about it being very hard to Feel listened to these days. Most of our good customer service people, who used to be paid to listen to and help consumers have been laid off and their jobs off-shored. Sometimes it seems as though we are each of us regarded merely as a case number, a file, something to be handled and disposed of.

Moving down from "middle class" to just plain Poor can be a very disturbing experience (believe me, I know from personal current experience) and I can certainly see how this "trickling down" (sorry couldn't resist) could make a body angry and alienated enough to go around shooting people.

March 14, 2009 10:21 AM
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