There is no life to be found in violence. Every act of violence brings us closer to death. Whether it’s the mundane violence we do to our bodies by overeating toxic food or drink or the extreme violence of child abuse, domestic warfare, life-threatening poverty, addiction, or state terrorism.
Lately our government, at least at the national level, seems to have forgotten who it works for. Congress recently passed a tax bill into law despite it being in great disfavor with a significant number of voters. A slight majority of Congress appears to be pandering to its wealthy donors and other wealthy citizens to the detriment of the rest of the country.
Violence remains a significant problem in our country although it has not shown an overall increase in recent years. Yet our communities across the country are rife with violence. We have too many mass killings, sexual assaults, suicides, drug overdoses and incidents of family violence.
In the past few articles, I have addressed what violence is and what causes it, what individuals can do, what families can do and what communities can do to reduce violence. Governments at all levels have approached the problem of violence mainly by looking for ways to punish perpetrators. Yet many violent people are motivated by anger, fear and pain. Punishing people for any of these only compounds the problem.
So what can government officials, citizen representatives at various levels, elected bodies and agencies created by them do other than punish people?
Here are some goals our representatives can address on our behalf:
- Set up and fund programs in our communities to understand why people feel angry, powerless, fearful and in pain.
- Establish community programs to address these concerns.
- Do what it takes to help people rise above poverty.
- Help neighborhoods find ways for their residents to live in safety.
- Help citizens learn that skin color, national origin, religious affiliation, gender identity, sexual orientation and personal wealth have nothing to do with the value on anyone’s life.
- Make sure that all citizens have adequate health care.
- Help every citizen find a way to be a productive member of society.
- Find a responsible way for citizens to own guns.
How do we get elected representatives to adopt such an agenda? Remember that all of them at every level are elected by those who they represent. They work for you. You will be bombarded by political advertising in every election cycle. Rather that listening to the onslaught, we need to start listening to each other person to person and in community forums. Once we understand what we all need we can elect people to act in our best interest who are willing to listen to each other and to us. It sounds daunting, but it can be done if we set our minds to it. Start doing your part today to build a more responsive government.