The ego’s culture of violence
The ego was established by an attack on the Self that the ego is actually a manifestation of. This attack was the belief that it is separate, which is a denial of its integral connection with the Self. This act was grounded in fear and identification with the body and reinforced in the collective. This attack was then projected inwardly in self doubt, self condemnation and guilt. It was manifest outwardly through judgement of others and the world and through an endeavor to control one’s circumstances and be superior. It is then easy to justify violence against others if one’s vulnerable ego or one’s survival seem threatened. This violence may be emotional or intellectual attacks or manipulations, or it may be physical violence, either directly or through state apparatus. These state apparatus institutionalize the violence that individually we may not consciously admit that we have. These include the laws, the police and military, the prison system, the inbuilt unfairness and oppression of the system, etc. The legitimization of violence is then reinforced in society through education, popular culture, and government. It pervades mores and values.
A related issue in the news recently, is gun violence, which is unfortunately common in large swaths of America. I have never been shown guns or talked about the guns owned by the people I have known in my life. But there are more guns than people in the US so many people have guns and own multiple guns. Although there are many sportsmen and hunters, most guns are purchased for protection. So it is ironic that most gun deaths are actually by people known to the victim - family and ‘friends’. I’ve read recently that there have been more people killed by guns in the US just since 1968 - 1.5 million - than in all of America’s wars combined. Of course the corruption in government makes the problem of gun control more difficult. The National Gun Association bribes and threatens congressman to keep them from voting for reasonable gun laws that most people want. Even after the latest horrific mass killing by a man who had amassed an arsenal and who had modified his semi automatic rifles to make them into machine guns by an add on device, the Democrats in Congress think they will have a hard time getting the Republicans to vote for legislation to outlaw these devices that are now legal.
Of course it’s appalling to anyone with any common sense, but it is a symptom of of a culture that legitimizes violence against ‘bad’ people. I’m sure that most of the movies and video games enjoyed by young people in the US contain violence. People are indoctrinated early into the need to protect oneself against all the ‘bad’ people in the world. When I was a child I received toy guns at Christmas, which is shocking to think of now, but seemed quite natural and good fun then. Unfortunately the US is now the bad person on the world stage, and the biggest terrorist if one looks at the actual destruction, death and devastation committed by the US since WWII. In the wars in the Mideast, the US and it’s allies have killed more people than the terrorists have. And yet the complicit media continues to provide cover by promoting the official ideology that the US only acts for democracy, freedom and human rights - which is as absurd as that killer in Las Vegas needing his arsenal for self defense. Unfortunately, although the symptoms of the underlying problem are getting more obvious - endless war on ‘terror’;more horrible mass killings; increased police state oppression; increased World armament sales; renewed threats of nuclear war; etc. - the corrupt nature of the political situation (control of government by money) in the US is making solutions difficult.
‘Bad’ means anyone or any nation who actively defies the laws and the rule of the global system oppressing the world. ‘Bad’ is also a convenient projection. Just as the white settlers in America felt they had to protect themselves from the natives who threatened control of ‘their’ land that they had taken from the natives, so imperialists have to protect their foreign interests that they have overpowered native populations to establish and that they are paying local oligarchs to maintain. Bad is really the violent action for power, privilege and control that we exhibit. We fear others are like us and have similar drives, when often they just demand equal rights to the necessities of life. However once we set up the laws that establish and legitimize our system of control, anyone who defies these ‘fair, democratic’ laws is by definition, ‘bad’.
I feel this is related to the increased violent sensationalism in modern culture. The images are more graphically violent, rapid, sexual and offensive. The music is louder and more vulgar. The content often exults at defying traditional mores and being shocking. Personal tastes and styles, such as tattoos, obscenity use, rude behavior, display nihilism, anger, and aggression. I believe these are signs of spiritual malaise, of a society and culture that has lost its mooring. So the increased sensationalism is almost a sign of addiction to a culture of materialism. The 60’s offered hope, but the global capitalist system has not changed and now repudiates that hope and people despair.
The answer is ultimately to reclaim our connection to our Self and a more spiritual, loving and holistic values, beliefs, institutions and society that express this.