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Thinking Out Loud: Are We Witnessing The Decadence in U.S. Society That Makes Disintegration Inevitable?

October 23, 2015 by Herbert Daughtry

Part Thirty-Four

One Newspaper’s Report On Violence

It was my intention to move on from violence to the next factor which I believe gives us information that helps us to understand the content of a society and the direction in which it is moving, but I could not resist recording the different kinds of violence reported in one newspaper – the New York Daily News. October 20, 2015: The paper carried a number of articles dealing with various forms of violence.

I. Domestic Violence

A. “Beaten Cult Kid Will Testify”

“A 17-year-old boy who was brutally beaten inside an upstate church in New Hartford, NY, alongside his older brother, was released from the hospital…”

The 17-year-old and 19-year-old brothers were beaten with fists and kicked by their parents, their sister, and other members of their small church. They tried to force the brothers to confess their sins and seek forgiveness.

B. “Rich Dad’s Killer Son ‘Needs Help'”

“The mom of a Princeton graduate accused of gunning down hedge-fund manager dad says her son desperately needs mental help… The father, Thomas Gilbert, Sr., was allegedly killed by his 31-year-old son, Thomas Gilbert, Jr.”

In the editorial, even Mayor Bill de Blasio made a plea in “Better Late Than Never.” “Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray addressed a wave of infanticide by new mothers who had become deeply disturbed. They called on New Yorkers to seek help for loved ones in crises. In urging the public to come forward, De Blasio and McCray could have been speaking of Tenisha Fearon’s sister, who heard the killer mom’s ravings about demonic possession before acting fatally on her hallucination.” Or, de Blasio and McCray heard of the husband of Rashida Chowdhury, who might have noticed something awry with the mother of three before she killed one of them.

II. Random/Accidental Violence

Other acts of violence are random or accidental shootings and killings.

A. “Girl, 8, Is Killed as Dropped Gun Fires”

“The bullet from a handgun that fell to the floor in a Georgia home wounded a woman, but it killed her eight-year-old daughter. The authorities have said that the mom was doing her daughter’s hair at the time. The girl was sitting between her mother’s legs when the gun went off.”

III. Intimate Partner/Acquaintance Violence

A. “Flat Iron Slay Charge”

“A Bronx man who allegedly murdered a female acquaintance outside a Flat Iron District nightclub has been indicted for the fatal shooting… Jamison, 26, who is being held without bail is accused of fatally shooting Walique Faussett and wounding two other women. He maintains his innocence.”

IV.Common Occurrence of Violence

Then, there is the common occurrence of violence.

A. “Ex-Bronx Gal Brutally Killed in Pa. Home”

“A 27-year-old former Bronx woman, who had just earned a Master’s Degree, was found beaten and strangled in her Philadelphia apartment.” Her apartment showed no signs of forced entry or robbery. Ms. Wright graduated last month from Drexel University.”

V. Desensitization of Human Pain and Death

A. To round out the violence, an article was headlined, “Corpse Found in East River”: “‘A 44-year-old man was found dead in the East River off a Bronx park on Monday,’ police said.” It is unclear how the man got there.

I included this death story to underscore how life has become devalued. It sounds so matter-of-factly, so normal – a “corpse found in East River, but who was he? Where did he come from? Did he have any relatives? What happened to him?

Death seems to lurk in every corner, nook, and cranny of American society. Nowhere is safe. Children, playing in the park, sleeping in their homes, and getting their hair done, are shot and killed. Not only children, but adults are suffering from the same fate of deliberate and accidental deaths. There’s no hiding place.

The danger and further potential for disintegration of a society is to become desensitized to the pain and suffering, dehumanization, oppression, and misery of members of the human family. In some sense, oddly enough, it can be a survival mechanism. We cannot see violence day after day in every shape and form without becoming adjusted to it, or desensitized; or, wilt beneath the pressure and become psychotic, neurotic, or, in some way, off balance.

These abnormal states are prevalent among those who have to deal with persons of anti-social behavior or even various kinds of sicknesses. Police and prison guards are among others who suffer from the abovementioned maladies. I spend considerable time ministering in penal institutions. I can almost pick out the officers who have spent the least time on the job. They have not yet become desensitized. Of course, this is a general statement. There are guards, as well as police officers and others, who have been on the job for a long time, and have not yet lost their bearing or sense of decency, fairness, and compassion.

After doing one of my “involuntary vacations” over 60 years ago, I had a parole officer. We engaged in conversation on one of the days that I made my mandatory periodic visit. He wanted to engage me in a rather vulgar conversation about church members. I said to him, “I find your conversation very disrespectful. Don’t you ever talk to me that way again.”

I will never forget what he said to me: “I am very sorry, but I wanted to treat you as a peer – a professional to a professional. I sit here all day, and I have to deal with ex-offenders who are trying to deceive or manipulate me, or lying about this, that, or the other. But, you are different. I wanted a little professional relief. Rest assured, it will never happen again.”And, it never happened again.


Years later, I understood what he meant about relief. When I was contemplating marriage, it so happened that my father-in-law knew him. My father-in-law asked the parole officer about me. He said, “Herb is a good man. Your daughter couldn’t marry a finer person.” He terminated my parole years before the due date.

While I will deal with suicide in the next article, I think it’s important to relate the following story. Many of us have seen the photo of a baby dying of hunger, and a vulture about 3-5 yards away, stalking the baby. It became a famous photo with worldwide circulation. It happened in South Sudan during a 25-year war between North and South Sudan. The person who took the photo committed suicide!

There is another way to deal with the misery of the human family- fight hard, work hard, pray hard, or do something to alleviate the situation. Even then, there is no guarantee that those who put forth maximum effort to make a difference may not escape the desensitization or the disintegration of their own personality.

We have seen many forms of violence – police, community, adult/youth, racist, domestic, random/accidental, and mass killings. We have made reference to a number of various kinds of violence in the Daily News. As I have mentioned, I will deal with suicide, substance abuse, and road rage in the next article.

When we consider the proliferation and the multiplication of all these forms of violence and the other negatives (sex, greed, etc.) happening at the same time across America, we are driven to the conclusion, “Something is deeply, pervasively wrong with America.”

… to be continued.