The origin of this photograph lies in my own concern about the phenomenal cultural increase in the use of deadly force – whether by knife, baseball bat, gun or automobile – to settle differences that could have been far less than lethal, in and of themselves.
It also concerns friend and associate, Rebecca, a young woman who has experienced the loss of friends through violent suicide.
This is such an important concern for me. Partly because I grew up in a rural area as well as in a time when my classmates had rifles and shotguns in their pickup trucks or trunks of cars for hunting after school. Not once did anyone choose to settle teenaged angst by murdering their classmates. There was bullying. We had fistfights after school. But there were no school shootings I ever heard of. The de-evolution of our society to a place where violence is so prevalent is less about the tools and more about us, as a people. The tools have not changed in the years since my school days; we have.
Our culture has certainly changed. Opinions vary, and it’s beyond me to discern where the solution might lie, but I believe it starts with each of us taking responsibility for our choices, as well as seeking to help people we know who are in distress. Maybe we can remove the stigma of asking for help. Perhaps the extraordinary volume of graphic violence in movies and games needs to be reduced. Hollywood great, director Martin Scorsese, has gone on the record as believing this to be true, and acknowledges his contribution through earlier films. His agreement with psychology professionals that impressionable younger minds are being desensitized to real violence through massive exposure to virtual violence via TV and games has weight, because he is intimately familiar with the issue at its source. Once again, the tools haven’t changed, the people have.