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Rant #77
(published Early, 2002)
An Argument from the Nonviolent Liberal
by Amy Barbour

I admit I am naive; it is my first and most distinguishing characteristic. So, when I was, like the rest of the country, watching tv and weeping in the middle of September, I thought that was the end of the world. Then it was the next day, and the next, and I thought, well, obviously, the world hadn't quit, but it was the end of violence, the end of high scale, high stakes, killing people. . .

And then the whole Israel thing happened, continues to happen, and I'll admit I was wrong.

I never expected, like I realize some did, that the sheer amount of sudden deaths in New York would spell the end of violence in the movies or on tv. My tastes have not changed, though as I'm growing older, my eyes are more likely to be covered when there's blood on the screen. And I still can think of nothing more romantic than the man from the future with the sawed-off shotgun beneath his overcoat. In my worst moments, I dream I have the same. But I know enough to realize that romance does not belong in the real world. And that death, like sickness, is never actually poetic.

But I sit on the couch and I watch the news. And I sit on the bus and at work, and I read the news, I listen to NPR. . . And I never used to do this. I used to read the New York Times (well, the online version), looking for articles on astronomy, where reporters try to explain physics to lay people, or, more usually, I just clicked over to the movie reviews. In the present, when I have a spare moment I read all the headlines. The republicans don't fail to make me angry, the national news just makes me sad. But I'm not sure if it's been getting worse, or if it's just me paying more attention.

It seems like as a species we are doing nothing better with our time than constructing new and more horrifying ways of murdering each other. I guess there is no "new" in the game. And maybe it just looks like the killers are younger, or the victims more random. And maybe it's just an illusion, that more people are trying violence for the thrill.

I have never felt the curiosity about death that brings people to torment animals and children. I'm a boxed up bleeding heart, I cry for the hurt feeling of people in movies. I cry for the death of tiny creatures. And I'm the luckiest of the impossibly lucky, I've never lost anyone I love.

And as much as I think we would all benefit from increasing AIDS research, reducing global warming, and feeding the starving people of the world, I think most important of all, we should stop intentionally killing each other.

I'm totally serious.

I cannot imagine that even the surliest member of humanity is deserving of being slashed to death, the last moments of his or her life torn between fear and incredulity and pain. (I know we can all make exceptions for the mass murders and the genocidists, but I mean the more typical citizens. . .) I can't imagine that there are people out there who equate the end-products of millions of years of evolution as their own private game reserve, who think that a man's life is worth the contents of his wallet. A man is so much more than a piece of plastic.

But maybe those who think that money isn't everything, already have it. The money, that is. And when my stormy heart was breaking over the wreckage in New York, I was wondering if the thieves, the men who work with their knives and their guns and fast hands, if they felt the same outrage and swelling patriotism as us much more law-abiding citizens.

There are people still out there being eaten by wolves. But these aren't the same wolves our great-grandparents would have warned us about. Or maybe, they are.

Of course I don't have any great ideas on how change the whole fabric of our society. I just had the revelation that it might be worth looking into. For starters, we could make guns harder to come by. But that's an old idea, I know.

And then we can turn our eyes to less gruesome topics, without feeling so frivolous. Like whether Meg Ryan's newest hairstyle is attractive or atrocious. And why the same people who were big box office draws fifteen years ago are still big box office draws, and still playing characters in their thirties. . .

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