It is customary to hear gunshots and the rhythmic rapid-fire of bullets ringing in the New Year after sunset every December 31st. Even though all the bullets must find targets, this potentially fatal ritual has become a violent American tradition. Violence, the conscious or subconscious act of physical force or harm towards someone or something, is learned behavior passed on from one generation to the next. This callousness is sanctioned by the violent words and phrases saturated throughout American-English: We ATTACK the problem; BEAT the odds; BEAT the rush; bite the BULLET; take a BREAK; wear a CHOKER (choke her?); CRACK the ice; CUT off the lights; CUT them some slack; meet the DEADline; get DEAD tired or DEAD serious; DIE laughing; love you to DEATH; FALL in love; HANG in there; KILL ‘em with kindness; KILL two birds with one stone; get dressed to KILL; have KILLER looks; KILL time; SHOOT the breeze; take a STAB at it; and TACKLE the problem to become smart as a WHIP.
Slang/language, television, movies, electronic games, contact sports, serial-killer trading cards, and war toys all partner entertainment with violence, adding to its fascination as a national past time. From the first slap across a new-born’s buttocks, throughout childhood, and into adulthood we are programmed to tolerate, glorify, and celebrate violence. Yet we continue to react with shock and awe when children commit suicide and homicides against a backdrop of ever-escalating senseless violence. This violent culture, however, did not evolve in a vacuum. Indeed America was baptized of brutality. Approximately 300 million Indigenous Peoples of the Western Hemisphere and 100 million Africans/Blacks were terrorized, enslaved, and annihilated under the guise of Manifest Destiny. America’s infatuation with aggression, genocide, and weapons has many Americans preferring to own a piece (gun) rather than work for peace. So, how about making a New Year’s resolution to turn this around? In 2014 let’s resolve to curb this popular American DIEt of violence. Happy New!