Apathy Towards Violence

Today, as my family and I were driving home, we witnessed a woman break a bottle on the back of another woman’s head.  There were four of them.  My husband’s reaction was to pull over and make sure no one was going to kill anybody.  My reaction was total annoyance, as the ladies were fighting in the middle of road, and I wanted to go home.  I felt nothing.  I barely even acknowledged what had happened.

From further away, we could see that an intense cat fight had been started (by whom I could care less).  They were slapping and yelling and backing into the road as we got closer.   Hello?!  We are driving here!  Then, one lady literally breaks a glass bottle on the back of the other lady’s head.  Two of the women held bottle lady back while the woman who got hit had a satisfied expression of “Thank you for giving me a reason to press charges, buddy.” on her face as she dialed what I assume was 911 into her cell phone.  I talked Rick into continuing home as things appeared to have calmed down.  Honestly, though-Unless it was three against one, I am pretty positive I would have begged Rick not to stop.  We had Jack and whatever these losers did to get themselves into this embarrassingly childish situation was not worth risking harm to me or my husband and especially not my child.

I’ve had time to reflect on my feelings during that situation and realized that annoyance wasn’t exactly my emotion.  It was anger.  I just can’t imagine a reason these two women who are significantly older than me would start beating on each other like animals.  Perhaps not both of them, but at least one of them was angry enough to hit the other one in the head with a blunt object.  She was so irrationally angry, that she basically tried to kill another person.  I don’t think either one of them planned on killing each other, but even a glass bottle in the right spot with the right amount of force could potentially cause someone’s death.  The reason I didn’t want to stop is because I was mad at them.  I could not empathize with them even a little bit because even when I’ve been so angry I wanted to scream at someone, the thought of laying my hands on another person is as crazy to me as drop-kicking a kitten.  I would never ever ever under any circumstances do it.  It is something I do not understand, but it is so common that when I come across it, I have not a even an electron-sized amount of shock or fear.

The world has numbed me.  Obviously, a cat fight doesn’t hold a candle to the violence in the rest of the world, but the commonality of it makes America seem like a video game-or a movie.  With ISIS, human trafficking, murders, rapes, domestic violence, and drive-bys on my daily newsfeed, it’s become normal.  The world is violent and it feels like there is nothing I can do about it.  I have grown accustomed to this feeling.  I feel guilty because I can’t seem to get rid of my apathy towards violence.

I remember 9-11.  I was in high school and we were watching the news live, as American men and women lept from skyscrapers to avoid a more painful death.  There were kids in the band room laughing.  LAUGHING.  THOSE CHILDREN WERE LAUGHING at the live suicides of other human beings.  I was so mad at them.  It was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen.  I screamed at them, “THIS IS REAL!  THESE PEOPLE ARE REAL!”  At the time, I just thought they were the worst kids in the world.  I still don’t think they’re the best, but I do at least understand that these high schoolers really didn’t get it.  They were the opposite of delusional.  They saw real things and didn’t believe them.  They had seen so many terrible things in movies and video games and on the news that they couldn’t comprehend that what they were seeing wasn’t special effects.

This is not a post dedicated to telling parents not to let their children watch violent things or force them to quit playing video games.  My child is not old enough for me to self-righteously proclaim the correct way to parent pre-teens, but I do think that we all have to take a step back every once in a while and acknowledge what is happening in the world.

I feel so guilty for my apathy.  I don’t think it helps anyone to wallow in situations out of their control, but I think reminding ourselves and our children that these things are real and attempting to put ourselves in these terrible situations can bring what we I really should be feeling back to the table:  Sympathy.  Sympathy breeds love and love conquers all.  As far as those idiotic women today?  I’m working on it, but I’m not there yet.  😉

 

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