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Daily Connect: Gunsights Galore and REsensitizing Ourselves to Violence
Submitted by Ethan Nichtern on Mon, 1/10/2011, 11:59am
"Hatred is never solved by hatred, but by love alone. This is an eternal law."
-The Historical Buddha
"We never ever, ever intended it to be gun sights. It was simply cross-hairs like you'd see on maps," said Rebecca Mansour on the Tammy Bruce radio show. Moreover, there was "nothing irresponsible" about the image, and to draw a line connecting Palin and Saturday's shooting is "obscene" and "appalling."
I would like to request that any graphic designers or cartographers respond: have you ever seen on any map anywhere, the type of imagery used in the SarahPac map below simply denoting place without any other implications? Do these really look like compass points to you, pointed harmlessly at Gabrielle Giffords metaphorical face?
I truly wish that Sarah Palin would have the decency to just apologize and move on. However, I also think she and her handlers might genuinely believe that there was "nothing irresponsible" about her imagery. Let's face it, we live in the most violent, militarized society the world has ever seen. Even if many US citizens are mostly safe and free of day-to-day events like Saturday's shooting, violent imagery and revenge narratives dominate every aspect of our life and culture. Anybody see True Grit? Fun, funny, but really, just the same old American vengeance, sugar-coated by Jeff Bridges and a precocious 14 year-old girl. I grow tired of the screenplay. We have been desensitized beautifully, and violence has been karmically normalized to the point that some of us may actually be able to believe that these are not gunsights, or that if they are, what's the big deal? The United States spends more on its military than almost the rest of the whole world combined. Our popular culture has to somehow make that seem normal. So I can't really blame Sarah for being so callous and careless in the line of fire. Can you?
The third grade girl who died Saturday, amazingly, was born on September 11, 2001. That should say something about our society, something deep and pervading.
I was in Washington, DC, teaching a Shambhala Training weekend meditation retreat to about 40 lovely people. What were we doing all weekend? We were ABnormalizing violence (both inner and outer) in our minds, and REsensitizing ourselves to our experience. No work feels more important these days, no endeavor more profound.
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