Talking about violence as if it's the problem is like talking about diarrhea as if it were a disease, instead of just a symptom of a disease. The actual disease is cholera, the cause of cholera is unsanitary conditions which provide a fertile breeding ground for the bacteria that causes cholera.
A good friend of mine is working on a project with one of Chicago's aldermen to bring attention to the scourge of violence on the city's streets. Reading over some of their campaign literature, it seems like they're talking about violence in a vacuum, as if it existed all by itself and for its own sake, only. I don't believe that's the case.
Violence is never the problem, always a manifestation of underlying conditions. There's violence in Somalia, Egypt, Syria, Gaza, Greece and Harlem and there are different underlying conditions in each of those places. Poverty, lack of opportunity and oppression are some of the factors that many share.
Availability of guns exacerbates the problem here and in other population-dense urban centers. Stemming the flow of guns and drugs are formidable, if not impossible tasks. Getting illegal guns off the streets is much more difficult that it might seem to the casual onlooker. The only real power we, as a society have is to eliminate one of the main sources of armed conflict on the streets of America; drugs.
Take the black market trade of illegal drugs away from the gangs and they won't have any reason to shoot each other. Fewer reasons, anyway. Tax on the sale of those drugs, once legalized would go to cash-strapped towns all over the country. Billions of dollars wasted on ineffective anti-drug wars and prosecution could go toward programs to provide educational and vocational opportunities to those who need them most. Do that and you're making a difference. Anything else and you're just howling at the Moon.
As Emily Litella said at the end of her editorial on SNL's Weekend Update about the fuss over "Violins on TV", "Nevermind" . See Gilda Radner's Emily Litella here.
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