- Journalists from 20th Century Literature
Why is Violence Increasing in the 21st Century?
Read The Winchendon School students' pieces on the 21st century. Enjoy their student journalist spotlight!
What is being done to address racial inequality? What steps have been taken to reduce the violence in our streets? Unanswered prayers of those less fortunate to walk around peacefully cause violence. The ongoing police brutality against minorities has sparked this inexplicable rage in society. Peaceful protests are the polar opposite of the peaceful pursuit of justice. Because people are indifferent to the victims, verbally fighting for equality frequently devolves into violence. Unheard citizens feel silenced, ignored, and betrayed by those in power who are supposed to protect them. Ignoring the silence fuels rage. Anger is directed at individuals who are unaware or aware but do not act on it and contribute to the grievance. Words are more accessible to ignore than a jab to the face, a gun in a school, or fear in a place you call home. Who truly feels secure in their community? My appearance is Caucasian, but my brother has dark skin. I am frightened of the violence, not for myself, but for my blood. We share the same heritage and bleed red, but my brother is viewed differently than I am. If I could change one thing to improve my community, it would be to raise awareness about violence in my environment and try to limit it.
Observed by all, America appears superior. America, a compilation of unified states, serves as an indicator of modern civilization. Boasting a history of status as a world power, Americans view their nation through the lens of wealth and technology, an illusion enjoyed by those who flourish in its systems and privilege. The reality of the United States is division. Cleaved in half during the Civil war, America has morphed into a patchwork quilt. The unsustainable lifestyle of Americans leaves us splitting at the seams. Nonviolent tactics, once observed by leaders such as MLK, do not work in modern times.
Isolated in their homes across the land, each American is lost in their individuality. Each one has a needle and thread, some with scissors, and all seek to alter the fabric of America to fit their individual vision. Obscured by bright new stitches of hope, the threads that hold the oldest patches together are steeped in the country's violent past.
In The Piano Lesson, August Wilson reveals the experience of violence and racism woven into American society through the perspective of an African American family. The memory of slavery creates an underlying theme of violence and desperation throughout the play and in our society. Toni Morrison stated in the forward of The Piano Lesson “it is very much like living in a war zone where alertness is all, where fear is simply one element of the breathable air. That is the tension that roils under the humor, the storytelling, the ferocity with which the characters hold their positions, the efforts at reconciliation.” (p. xvii) Berniece spends the duration of the play desperately holding onto a priceless piano carved by her ancestor. Her character represents the hope of assimilating into White society. Boy Willie represents Malcolm X during the Civil Rights Movement, implied by Boy Willie murdering Sutter. Boy Willie was willing to commit acts of violence to gain retribution and a place in White society. Malcolm X advocated for self-defense “by any means necessary”, and Boy Willie exemplifies the extreme end of that spectrum. Boy Willie’s character, although more willing to use violence to achieve equality, also has a warped idea of what he would like his place in society to be. He desperately wants to own the plantation that his ancestors were enslaved on, and he is willing to sell the physical manifestation of the history of his family. “If you got a piece of land you’ll find everything else fall right into place. You can stand right up next to the white man and talk about the price of cotton”(p. 92) This obsession with money and material wealth is a huge part of male-centric White society.
What Boy Willie does not realize is that his desire to be equal to White men and respected by White men in the same way that White men respect each other is also assimilation. Doaker is somewhere in the middle trying to mediate and reason with both Boy Willie and Berniece, but there is no middle ground to stand on. During the Civil rights movement, MLK led America with nonviolent tactics of inciting change. The difference between racist society during the 1950s and today was that racism was much more overt. There is still overt racism in America, but bigotry is an evolving problem, hiding behind every door in the shadows. Bigotry and racism in America today are much the same as the undercurrent underlying threat of violence in the book. In The Piano Lesson, any violence, or threat of violence is never stated aloud. There are accusations between Berniece and Boy Willie, but there is never a concrete confirmation of this in the play. Racism in America today is similar to the concealed gun that Berniece carried at the end of the play. America’s racism is a wily creature, lurking in shadows, appearing and disappearing like Sutter’s ghost. People who don’t believe that racism is a problem cannot see or understand the strife of others. Racism is at once concrete and intangible. America’s division can no longer be solved by simply marching. Each American bears the individual responsibility to deconstruct their personal values and take accountability to understand the messages they have passively accepted. Perpetually, we seem doomed to fight an ever-changing evil. The march goes on.
There is a website called adl.org, which includes all documented and reported anti-semitic acts in the United States of America. On November 27, 2022, A man with a machete demanded "Where is the nearest synagogue?" On December 2, 2022, Another man shouted antisemitic slurs and threats at parents and children outside of a synagogue's preschool. On the same day, a father and son who were both wearing yarmulkes were shot at with a BB gun by yet another man. Such occurrences happen multiple times a day, and these are only the publicly known attacks. Concomitantly, history books indicate that humans have left bigotry in the 20th century with the advent of Martin Luther King jr. and Gandhi. A contradiction can be found: why does so much violence still exist, when such prejudice was meant to have been abolished at the end of the last millennium?
Racism is hereditary. A young child’s mind is blank; their parents mold the mind into that of their own footprints. Every child grows up in their parents’ care, innately viewing them as the correct way to function as a human being. Now, if the parents are chauvinists, the child will not only believe in chauvinism, the influence is so strong that the child will genuinely believe his views are the natural and correct values to follow as a human being. History has come to prove that such built-in structures of hate in the minds of the misled are nearly impossible to modify.
Take World War II as an example. Thousands of Nazi soldiers gunned down innocent men, women, and children. While hereditary racism definitely played a part in their motivation, Hitler also played a massive role in manipulating the public. Hitler fear-mongered, saying that Jews were the cause of everything wrong in the world. Another part in play was their uniforms. All the soldiers looked alike, especially in their military uniforms. Mob mentality came into play. Mob mentality is when one does not reflect on their own actions, since they believe they are part of a group, a hive, and what they do is not their actions but the group’s actions as a whole. Mob mentality is just one example of manipulation; the main aspect that can be recognized is how powerful manipulation is, powerful enough for an entire nation to become so hateful and racist. The spread of racism still exists in the 21st century due to hereditary traits and corruptive manipulation of one’s beliefs and emotions.
Throughout the 20th century there were many conflict crimes faced up until the 21st century. Martin Luther King's article “Pilgrimage to Nonviolence”;we never escaped history leading us to Black & White violence, police brutality, and the background history of the 20th century. Nothing has changed in the 21st century.
Knowing our history, we know why we will never escape our past. Once people have seen violence for several years, generation after generation is going to go by what they've seen or sometimes been taught. In the MLK passage “Pilgrimage to Nonviolence”, MLK could not pretend that there was no evil: “The more I observed the tragedies of history and man’s shameful inclination to choose the low road, the more I came to see the depths and strength of sin”. The world is motivated by negative emotions causing some to do violent things. Following MLK’s teachings of becoming closer to GOD, trusting His work, and believing everything will improve (faith) have yet to be realized. Segregation is not as obvious as it was in the 20th century, but knowing Blacks and Whites were segregated from each other for decades. The world was brutal in many ways. Nonviolently fighting for rights, MLK wanted to change social systems. In the 20th century violence with weapons and beatings were not only about segregation but also not having rights and not being able to do what Whites could do. “I saw how the system of segregation exploited both the Negro and the poor Whites. These early experiences made me deeply conscious of the varieties of injustice in our society”, MLK goes on to write. Non-violence does not always have to do with violence. Fighting for Black lives, we have to love our enemies and not take revenge.
We can take many actions forward towards the solution of violence in the 21st century. We can either consider a change, fighting for what's right, or allow lack of opportunity to be the way it was during the 20th century. It is our choice.
Vigorously, Dr. Martin Luther King fought for the future generations of African American children to be accepted in the United States of America. The civil rights activist attempted to develop the United States into a country that loves one another and does not face myopic racial prejudice. Sadly, the nation still complies with its habit of racism. Dr. King was a pacifist. He was one of the most influential leaders of the Civil Rights movement, dealing with the struggles of being a Black American citizen firsthand because of the color of his skin. Still, despite the negligent treatment and consistent slander, he decided to respond with peace and love.
In Dr. King’s Strength to Love, Dr. Martin Luther King wrote, “Old systems of exploitation and oppression are passing away; new systems of justice and equality are being born. In a real sense this is a great time to be alive.” (King 153-154). Sadly, nearly seventy years after MLK’s preachings, the United States of America continues to struggle to end the oppression of the Black community.
Sophia Rosing, a twenty-two-year-old student at the University of Kentucky, assaulted a Black student with demeaning racial slurs on November 6th, 2022. Regrettably, in the 21st century, the United States is still dealing with White supremacist tendencies. Sadly, another student recorded the incident rather than stepping in to assist the student being harassed. The unnamed student posted the video to social media, where one can see Sophia Rosing not only calling the student the n-word but that Ms. Rosing was repeatedly attempting to punch the Black student. Looking at a destroyed reputation, Ms. Rosing not only faced assault charges but also alcohol intoxication, disorderly conduct, and assaulting a police officer, which is a Class D felony. Would the charges be different if she had dark skin? The justice of Sophia Rosing facing charges does not alter the reality that a White student thought she was justified to belittle a Black student over a disagreement due to her skin color. Saddened by the lack of change in America, Martin Luther King would be ashamed of our progress in 2022. Unfortunately, White citizens continue to believe they hold power over their Black brothers and sisters. Living in a time of change, how depressing that White supremacist culture still has a home in the United States; after all that MLK preached, one would think that there would be more change in our social norms rather than only in our written laws.
In the United States of America, the First Amendment prohibits the government from impeding the freedom of religion or making any laws respecting the establishment of religion. But, in the 21st century, Jewish Americans are still experiencing hate for being Jewish. Antisemitic violence hit a high in 2021. Celebrities are making Antisemitic comments and there appears to be no end to the verbal violence. Additionally, Martin Luther King Jr. attempted to mitigate all the violence against minorities here in the United States. Even with all the work he and other activists did over seventy years ago, violence against Jewish Americans still continues on a daily basis today.
On top of everyday issues and the pandemic, Jewish Americans had extra challenges they faced, especially in 2021. According to PBS, Antisemitic hate reached an all-time high with there being 2,717 incidents which is a 34% increase from the year before. This data is based on physical attacks here in America. Due to the technology in today’s world, there are also thousands of verbal attacks. In 2022, many of these attacks came from Kanye West who is an American rapper. The majority of his negative remarks contained ideas about money, which is a common stereotype associated with Jewish people. Day after day, more and more Antisemitic comments are posted on various and assorted social media platforms. The platform that holds the most antisemitic comments is Facebook. Violence against Jewish Americans comes in all forms and based on the trends, unfortunately, there appears to be no end in sight.
Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the most famous civil rights activists in the United States. While giving his speeches and fighting for civil rights, he was attempting to mitigate violence against minorities in America. Jewish people were a minority during the mid 1900s so, Martin Luther King Jr. was fighting for them as well. He was one of the most powerful men known to mankind and many people appreciated what he was able to do in his short time here on Earth.
As time goes on, the amount of violence increases, especially against certain groups in the United States. Yet, many individuals and groups are attempting to reduce violence and create a safer place for everyone to live. One day, no one will have to deal with hate or violence for being themself.
- “5 Of Kanye West's Antisemitic Remarks, Explained.” AJC, 22 Dec. 2022, https://www.ajc.org/news/5-of-kanye-wests-antisemitic-remarks-explained.
Brangham, William, and Rachel Wellford. “Antisemitic Incidents Hit a Record High in 2021. What's behind the Rise in Hate?” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 29 Apr. 2022, https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/antisemitic-incidents-hit-a-record-high-in-2021-whats-behind-the-rise-in-hate
Human beings were born with violence festering in their hearts; brutality is written all throughout history as seen in Sodom and Gomorrah, the American Revolution, Columbine, the Civil Rights movement and many more. Looking at the philosophy that human beings are ultimately good, their actions beg to differ; time and time again every good action taken we use to justify the bad. We watch true adaptions of violent acts and enjoy the entertainment, then say to ourselves “Those poor families”, “What a tragedy!” Then we go back to watching Too Hot to Handle and treating these things as miniscule.
Our hearts are not protected the way they should be, and they haven’t been since Adam and Eve took a bite of the forbidden fruit. Now, we know there is more to life than green pastures. While violence is born, we also create it. When we hear our sons watch pornography, we disregard it as “boys being boys” or “a part of growing up”, but these are the films that deteriorate the brain, create sexual violence, and take away the meaning of sex. Yet it's normal. Watching porn is just a part of life we’ve rationalized.
We create worlds where “kill or be killed” becomes the mindset of 16-year-old boys. Instead of your driver's license and your sweet 16, you’re at your brother's funeral who just turned eighteen. FC Fighters draw blood from each other's bodies, and we watch to bet on them. Football players like Damar Hamlin can suffer cardiac arrest on the field, and we will post our condolences, but not before purchasing tickets to the next Bills game. Violence isn’t this unfortunate thing that can never be accounted for.
We as human beings love chaos and barbarous events. We marvel at an event like Tulsa, not because we truly care, but because it is so enticing. We watch people suffer not because it isn't painful, but because watching and not being the one in pain is a relief. We hunt, assault, and injure each other, on the ice, on the field, on the court, in our homes, emotionally and not just physically. We love murder mysteries and true crimes, school fights and street brawls. We love to watch, sometimes even feel. The heart of violence is very much alive and beating because we, as human beings, don’t want it to stop. Innate to mankind, we seek violence, and violence is loved as much as it is hated.
- For this essay, I intend to write about homophobia as it pertains to the LGBTQ+ community in the United States. I will specifically discuss the recent “Club Q'' nightclub shooting in Colorado, as well as other relevant aggressions and discrimination against people with different sexualities. For love, we must fight with love in our hearts and pure intentions in mind.
People often scoff at the genre of romance and its ostentatious sentimentality, but there is a reason why Romeo’s intense adoration of Juliet has been able to win over the hearts of even the most cynical for centuries upon end. Arguably the most striking and influential force known to man is love. Joy is derived at its most basic level from the activities and relationships we engage in that please us, but the love we share with others is more profound than merely this feeling. The most intimate type of human relationship we can share is that which is characterized by love. Sincere and unshakeable, love is an all-encompassing form of affection bestowed upon the people and things we consider to be utterly inimitable in our lives. To love is to be human. And yet for some, to love is to become a target.
Inherent through our stature as American citizens, and as citizens of the world, is our right to love. The principles of our early society were laden with contradictions; the very foundation of our nation is riddled with hypocrisy,. The ideals of our country that were conceived out of a desire for democracy and inclusivity, with the prospect of providing unmitigated opportunity for each citizen, were written with a faulty pen, for the same pen used to provide our country with such beautiful freedoms limited them only to the White, educated, economically affluent men who helped write them. Immense progress has been made since the origin of our nation in the pursuit of truly establishing the idea, ¨…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,” (U.S. Constitution). Sparked by the dedicated struggle of daring, progressive individuals, we have begun to dismantle a system of policies erected from the ambiguous, controversial writings of a religion. We have indeed made significant strides towards developing a nation that provides its citizens with a civic-based collection of laws anticipated to be both equitable and just. That being said, until we can overcome the destructive seeds of implicit discrimination planted at the very beginning of our country, we will remain a country afflicted by the burden of ignorance-borne hatred.
Friday, November 19th, 2022. An ordinary day for Daniel Aston, Raymond Green Vance, Kelly Loving, Ashley Paugh, and Derrick Rump. Unbeknownst to them, it would also be their last. Each of these individuals attended Club Q in Colorado Springs that night, a nightclub heralded as an accepting, safe spot for members of the LGBTQ+ community to enjoy a bit of revelry. Anderson Lee Aldrich, a non-binary individual from the city, also attended Club Q that night. However, they entered the club armed not with giddy enthusiasm and a credit card to rack up a bill, but instead, with a bulletproof vest, a handgun, and a loaded AR-style assault rifle. Aldrich opened fire on the patrons of the nightclub, callously ending the lives of the five customers mentioned above, injuring at least 17 more, and reaffirming in the eyes of the nation the egregious hostility with which the LGBTQ+ community has been at the mercy of. Such an event is only one of a myriad of cases demonstrating, and frankly, further provoking, the unsubstantiated hatred those who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ continue to endure.
Historically, the LGBTQ+ community has found itself at the very forefront of societal dissension, merely because they have deviated from the cultural norms of identity and who they are expected to love. But why? Why does there exist the antipathy our society has beset individuals with different identities? According to an article by the New York Times, “the greatest portion of anti-homosexual bias, psychologists now say, arises from a combination of fear and self-righteousness in which homosexuals are perceived as contemptible threats to the moral universe,” (New York Times). Deeply and firmly rooted in our lives remains the tacit understanding that the exhibition of homosexual tendencies is immoral. As children, we are brought up with an unspoken acknowledgment of derogatory attitudes towards the concept of romantic relationships existing between anyone but a man and a woman. Similarly, we are innately discomfited by anyone who strays from the binary norms of identity. We acknowledge that these biased, preconceived notions are morally unsound, based on the conservative tenets of religions whose antiquated writings have lost their significance in the diversified, innovative society we have become today. And yet, they remain, similar to an uninvited guest; sequestered, but not inaccessible, in the back of our minds. Gandhi once relayed, “Constant development is the law of life, and a man who always tries to maintain his dogmas in order to appear consistent drives himself into a false position.” Sempiternal is this sentiment of Gandhi’s. In a world where the only constant in our lives, ironically, is change, we must sacrifice our egotism and become more comfortable with being wrong by accepting we too must grow with our evolving world.
Living in the 21st century, we have had the privilege of learning from the teachings of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela, and the impact they imparted on our society through means of non-violence. Embodied in our generation by the likes of Malala Yousafzai, Greta Thunberg, and Amanda Gorman, the success of activism has continued through the brilliant and bold voices of these young people who strive to elicit change using the power of their words and ideas. Instilled in our society, time and time again has been the notion of peaceful benevolence and coexistence among men.
Yet, in spite of it all, we continue to witness, in horror, tragedy upon tragedy, as the lives of innocent people are undoubtedly stolen by the senseless acts of violence we have attempted to eliminate. In an ingenious article about homophobia from the New York Times, the author relays “The affirmation of one's own values through anti-gay sentiment, his [Dr. Herek’s] research has found, is the most common motive,” (Goleman). This concept is precisely why violence has remained repugnantly prevalent, not only towards the LGTBQ+ community, but towards groups of various identities and cultures throughout the 21st century.
At its core, discrimination arises when one feels threatened regarding the vindication of their morals and their way of life. Our beliefs are critical to who we are, and when they are challenged, we have a difficult time coming to terms with the fact that the values by which we are living our lives may be misguided. Stubborn and self-interested, humans view the world with an obscured perspective, limiting the development of empathy, acceptance, and understanding to instead attain self-satisfaction and individual success. In other words, we are prone to be opposed to anything deemed “different” or something catalyzing change because it questions our character and insults our shamefully consequential feelings of pride. As Herek’s work demonstrated, violent behavior is seen as a method by which the individual can denounce the idea to which they are so vehemently opposed. Thus, violence is derived from our fragile senses of hubris and is motivated by the desire to justify our purpose as individuals.
Perhaps Gandhi’s greatest expression of wisdom came when he said, “I have no message to give except this that there is no deliverance for any people on this earth or for all the people of this earth except through truth and nonviolence in every walk of life without any exceptions.'' When we, as individuals, are capable of living by and adhering to Gandhi's words, we will have the opportunity to celebrate the diversity in our world and coexist peacefully with one another.
- Elassar, Alaa. “Club Q Shooting Suspect Anderson Aldrich Appears in Court, Charged with 12 New Counts.” CNN, Cable News Network, 13 Jan. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/13/us/club-q-shooting-suspect-court/index.html
- “Club Q Shooting: Colorado Suspect Faces 305 Criminal Counts.” BBC News, BBC, 6 Dec. 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-63879488
- Debbie Kelley. “5 Victims in Club Q Mass Shooting Identified, as Mourning Continues around Colorado Springs.” Colorado Springs Gazette, 22 Nov. 2022, https://gazette.com/special-coverage/continuing/club-q-shooting/5-victims-in-club-q-mass-shooting-identified-as-mourning-continues-around-colorado-springs/article_2ef3071e-69ce-11ed-bc92-bf8667b52b96.html
- Goleman, Daniel. “Homophobia: Scientists Find Clues to Its Roots.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 10 July 1990, https://www.nytimes.com/1990/07/10/science/homophobia-scientists-find-clues-to-its-roots.html
- “Seven Fundamental Teachings That Gandhi Gave Us.” Faena, Faena, 2023, https://www.faena.com/aleph/seven-fundamental-teachings-that-gandhi-gave-us
- “Articles : Peace, Nonviolence, Conflict Resolution.” Gandhi's Philosophy of Nonviolence, GANDHI SEVAGRAM ASHRAM, 2023, https://www.gandhiashramsevagram.org/gandhi-articles/gandhi-philosophy-of-nonviolence.php#:~:text=Gandhi%20understood%20nonviolence%20from%20its,Gandhi%20translates%20Ahimsa%20as%20love
Throughout the 21st Century, there have been many conflicts and violence, but the Ukraine War is one of the most violent people have recently seen. With Russia invading Ukraine, the Western World has realized Russia is creating a holocaust. Hoping to become a modern-day Empire, Russia is conquering Ukraine entirely.
Despite Nine-Eleven, the Somalian War, and the Yemeni Civil War, the Ukraine War is the cruelest. Russian General Milley spoke to the press about the deaths and destruction caused during the war. “‘You’re looking at well over 100,000 Russian soldiers killed and wounded’…General Milley said. Russia’s invasion had also killed about 40,000 Ukrainian civilians and displaced 15 million to 30 million.” https://www.nytimes.com/live/2023/01/05/world/russia-ukraine-news General Milley described that over 100,000 Russian soldiers were killed. The soldiers’ deaths outnumber the Ukrainian’s deaths by about 2 to 1. Meanwhile, 15 to 30 million people in Ukraine are now homeless and displaced.
The Ukraine War is a re-birth of the Holocaust, with Russia in the driver’s seat. Tara Bahrampour published an article, interviewing Holocaust survivors who also escaped Ukraine. “I feel very connected to the people I see suffering,” Irene Weiss, 91, said. “It’s so familiar…to see families having to leave their home and leave everything behind and run for their lives, and bombs falling around them.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2022/03/16/ukraine-holocaust-survivors-recall-past/ Irene Weiss was a survivor of the Holocaust and now the Ukraine War. Irene touched on the actions she experienced during both tragedies.
As a modern-day empire is being formed, Russia invaded Ukraine planning on taking the country out completely. Putin was plotting to demilitarize Ukraine and take out the government. Putin expressed the invasion as a “special military operation” compared to a full-scale war that has left millions of Ukrainian people homeless and displaced. “He told the Russian people his goal was to ‘demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine’”. Russia’s leader had more tactics up his sleeve.“High on the agenda was toppling the government of Ukraine's elected president.” https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-56720589 Putin was aiming towards taking over the Ukraine government, land, and destroying its culture and people.?
Violence has been very prominent in the 21st Century, with the Ukraine War being one of the most violent contentious? people have seen in recent times. Invading Ukraine, Putin has put innocent Ukrainian lives at stake. Putin’s actions have left thousands dead and millions of people displaced. Taking over the Ukraine government and demilitarizing Ukraine leads Putin to complete control of Ukraine as he continues to try to make Russia a First World Empire.
In 1917, the Russian Revolutionaries successfully overthrew the Tzar and ended the monarchy of the Russian Empire. What followed was the creation of a socialist, turn-communist, state known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In 1924, under Joseph Stalin, the Soviet Union quickly became a highly oppressive dictatorship. He reinforced the already oppressive doctrines of the Soviet Union: forbidding the practice of religion, denying free speech to the people, and exiling anyone he believed was working against him or the Soviet State to prison camps in Siberia known as gulags. The oppression of the Soviet people would carry on past Stalin’s rule. It would not be until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 that people and their countries would be liberated from that oppression. However, the Stalinist ideals of the Soviet Union did not die with the country. Those same ideals can be seen today in Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin. With Putin’s recent invasion of Ukraine, the violence and oppression which were thought to have died with the Soviet Union, have re-emerged.
Vladimir Putin is a former KGB agent who served for 16 years under the Soviet banner. Putin reached the rank of lieutenant colonel before retiring in 1991 to begin his political career. Serving under a country’s military instills the values of the country onto that person, the same can be said for Putin and his time serving the Soviet Union. Putin has openly claimed his reason for the attack on Ukraine was that it used to be under Russian, Soviet, control and that it rightfully belongs to Russia. However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was met with fierce opposition and resistance. Now known that the people of Ukraine would not willingly resubmit to an oppressive Russian rule, Putin has set his sights on ridding the country of its people so that it cannot resist and will fall to Russia. This closely resembles what the Stalinist answer to the resistance of either committing mass genocide or sending the people into exile. We can see this happening because the target of Russian bombings in cities includes hospitals, schools, orphanages, and civilian households. Putin hopes to annihilate the morale of the Ukrainian people, if not the people themselves.
We are seeing the signs of Soviet ideals of oppression reforming in Russia under Vladimir Putin, this so-called modern president. He is not only oppressing the people of Ukraine but also the people of Russia. Citizens protesting against the war have been jailed and punished for standing for what they believe in. Ukraine is not the only country in threat either, Russia responded to Lithuania blocking supply movement and trade between Kaliningrad and mainland Russia by promising that action would be taken soon against Lithuania. This action, to quote a secretary of Putin Nikolai Patrushev, “... will have a serious negative impact on the population of Lithuania.” Is Putin trying to reform the Soviet Union? While Putin has claimed he is not interested in reviving the USSR, he is taking strides in Russia and in foreign affairs to move the country in that direction. The real question, however, is what will the rest of the world do to stop him from recreating the nation that died in 1991?
Today, in 2023, there is still so much daily violence from city to city. Because some individuals do not achieve what they want or life doesn’t go their way, they break out in riots. People’s opinions are becoming more potent today, making them believe fighting is the answer. Violence is prevalent from family-friendly places like professional sports games to gangs in big cities. Reasons why people brutalize others lead to the same result or effect, injury or worse.
For example, someone’s beliefs are a strong reason for a brawl to occur because humans have opposing opinions. Because society cannot yet accept that there are so many different views in the world, this issue becomes a bigger problem if racism, sexism, and politics are discussed in conversation. People tend to cause an outbreak because of someone’s skin color or their viewpoint on the political spectrum. These examples are just a sliver of reasons violence is often dominant in this country.
A disgusting sample of a hate crime that occurred in Pennsylvania is with two former employees at a care facility for people with disabilities. The residents at this in-patient home have a variety of “severe physical, intellectual, and emotional disabilities, and require assistance with all activities of daily life, including bathing, using the bathroom, oral hygiene, feeding, and dressing.” These patients needed a lot of help to make it through the day, which was the expectation for these two caretakers. These tasks are why they were receiving pay. But instead, for over a year, these two workers decided to abuse the disabled, people who cannot help their differences. They were texting how they were going to attack with videos and photos of them implementing these nasty assaults. They did anything from “punching and kicking residents, jumping on residents, rubbing liquid irritants in their eyes, and by spraying liquid irritants in their eyes and mouths.” I cannot even imagine these events playing out because it is horrifying for something like this to occur. Unfortunately, aggression happens daily all over the country and on a much bigger scale than this one example. Violence is not the answer.
Recently the violence in Iran has made global news headlines, as protests run rampant throughout the country. These protests began after a 22-year-old woman died. Passing away in an Iranian hospital days after being detained by the regime’s morality police for allegedly not complying with the country’s hijab regulations, which have been in effect since 1983, witnesses to her arrest reported she was beaten in the police van. Her name was Mahsa Amini. Since her death, her name has become a household name for women and men not only throughout Iran but around the world. Her death was the wake up call which led Iran into being the cradle of a women-led movement demanding gender equality, the protest becoming the largest Iranian protest movement since at least 2009.
Women, however, resisted, they refused to be hidden away, and silenced, at every turn they questioned the regime and became the stimulants needed for change to occur. Amini’s death was the catalyst which ignited the flame of revolution. Revolution roared to life as women all over the country fought for inclusion. Women took to the streets and fought for the right to be seen, to be heard, to have a say in their own lives, and to be treated equally as citizens. Refusing to be forgotten, having made national news, the protests are aiming for the highest and strongest ceilings, national leadership, and they are on their way to breaking through.
The protests however, have not had smooth sailing. Force and violence from the government have plagued the protests, resulting in the deaths of 448 people, in the attempt to gain back control of the country. The question is, why is the government using violence to try and quiet the people? Why not learn from those in history who have proven the effectiveness of peaceful protest like Ghandi or MLK? Why fight fire with fire when the risk is being burned? The reason is fear. Fear of change looms over the Iranian government.
Using their religion, Ja'afari (Twelver) Shiism, the government elite continue to impose discrimination against women, terrified the segregated way of life they know and are used to will disappear if the protests succeed. They continue to try and hold women into their traditional roles because they are afraid of what a woman would do if she had the same power and rights as men: afraid to give them a voice in government and afraid giving women the same power as a man will have consequences bringing a tidal wave of change over the nation. They are using violence and intimidation to try and gain back power and silence the protesters back into submission.
- Askew, J. (2022, December 20). 'threshold of revolution': Why Iran's protests are different this time. euronews. Retrieved January 13, 2023, from https://www.euronews.com/2022/12/20/iran-protests-what-caused-them-who-is-generation-z-will-the-unrest-lead-to-revolution
- BBC. (2022, December 6). Iran protests: BBC identifies many more people killed in demonstrations after Mahsa Amini's death. BBC News. Retrieved January 13, 2023, from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-63836921
- Guardian News and Media. (2022, September 16). Iranian woman dies 'after being beaten by Morality Police' over hijab law. The Guardian. Retrieved January 13, 2023, from https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2022/sep/16/iranian-woman-dies-after-being-beaten-by-morality-police-over-hijab-law
- Iran - 2009-2017.state.gov. (n.d.). Retrieved January 13, 2023, from https://2009-2017.state.gov/documents/organization/171734.pdf
- Milani, F. (2023, January 5). How misogyny imperiled Iran's regime. Foreign Policy. Retrieved January 13, 2023, from https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/10/14/iran-women-protests-hijab-misogyny-imperiled-regime/
With the continued war and violence in the world, most of earth’s civilization would assume that the best answer to world peace is non-violence. As easy as the solutions to peace sound, the perception at which people see things will almost never become a reality. The human population stands by these notions such as “to protect one another” or “to help others thrive”. While the statements given do not seem too complex, they stem off into what later becomes the epitome of the violence we want to dissolve. The idea of protection and safety has been corrupted long ago into other ideas such as power and domination. MLK and Gandhi taught us non-violence; nevertheless, their teachings are a mere concept that most grasp in a false manner and may not even practically apply.
Let us scrutinize racism for example. In the dictionary, it says, “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism by an individual, community, or institution against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.” (Oxford Languages). Applying this to society, minorities are persecuted and segregated while simply living their lives. Look at George Floyd. He was harmless (no weapon on him), on the concrete floor, with a knee to his throat, by a white policeman, saying “I can’t breathe.” He needed air but the policemen denied him even that. His death materialized because a store clerk accused him of using a fake $20 bill. There is no reason whatsoever that a man should have to lose his life because of a small accusation. Through Chauvin’s eyes (George Floyd’s murderer), he was merely protecting the community. At what cost? The price Dereck Chauvin paid in order to achieve this so-called peace and protection for others was self-annihilating.
There were many problems and approaches that transpired due to what Chauvin did. The three biggest responses were Black Lives Matter (1), Blue Lives Matter (2), and All Lives Matter. To start, BLM (1) has been around since 2013, but the movement only just resurfaced after George Floyd died. This movement was one that stood up for a minority race. People of color wanted to be heard and BLM (1) was a platform for them to do so. But this led to disagreement. To be straightforward, White people took this as an attack and that’s where Blue Lives and All Lives Matter came into play. What exactly is a blue life? To be frank, they don’t exist. Because one cop killed a black man and was punished, people began to say “Cops matter too!”. For what reason does that need to be said? Black people were being persecuted and White people began to say “What about cops?” Also, the whole idea of All Lives Matter is a joke. That movement has never been brought up until people all around America began to stand with Black lives. Do all lives matter? Absolutely. The idea is good but the standpoint from which people held it was corrupt. ALM was used against BLM (1) in fear that Black people were taking a stand against their problems. Minorities aren’t superior, they have lives as well.
Why did these riots, rallies, petitions, and movements all happen? The answer was and still is evident. Violence and sometimes wrong doing stems from protection. Chauvin murdered George Floyd. For that, his idea of safety turned the entire Country into a ground for violence over change.