Since the holidays got in the way of my posting last Friday, today's Fast 5 includes stories and topics that have caught my attention in the past two weeks. And what a couple of weeks it's been! Since my previous survey, the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass murder has led the national news, along with the fiscal cliff, the non-apocalypse and the holidays. (On a personal note, my family suffered a loss on the eve of Christmas Eve - a cousin whose death at 48 came far too soon.) In short: a whiplash of emotions.
Among the best pieces I've read in this regard, one came from the left, another from the right, another from a libertarian's perspective (see next week's cover story in Creative Loafing), and yet another from the perspective of someone trying to understand the shooter. That was the one that moved me the most. It wasn't about the politics of guns; it was about the spirituality of compassion and understanding.
Personally, I'm for reasonable gun control. But if gun-control legislation already in place is not keeping random mass shootings from happening, we can't look to gun control alone to solve this problem. We have to look at how we have created conditions that are conducive to mass killings. Are we in the media partly to blame? Is the constant stream of blame-gaming on social media a factor? Is the problem a lack of god in classrooms or too much god in classrooms? I don't have any answers, but in all the noise I've heard and read, one piece keeps resonating for me, and it's my No. 1 link in today's Fast Five.
1) Tikkun Daily's Miki Kashtan sees Adam Lanza in all of us.
From the story:
The very first thing I wish for is honesty about the role of violence in our lives. At every turn we learn, again and again, that violence is an acceptable solution to conflicts and issues. The media, video games, our foreign policy, and our criminal justice system all demonstrate the same logic. Whatever the personal traits of a single individual, and whatever else we want to say about access to guns, Adam Lanza didn't invent the option of a violent response. Blaming specific individuals and calling them monsters when so much violence is a daily presence will not create any real shift. If we are serious about reducing or eliminating violence, I believe it would take a fundamental and deeper examination of the very premises and foundations of how we live our lives, from the metaphors we use to the role models we look up to."Class Is in Session": Racist Facebook posts hide fear
3) Will The Avett Brothers' popularity overshadow N.C.'s roots music past and sterling present?
An excellent piece from Raleigh's always-perspicacious Indy Weekly from Creative Loafing contributor Corbie Hill on the Avett Brothers, and how the Concord group's popularity has swayed perceptions (and perhaps misperceptions) of traditional N.C. and southern folk music.
From the story:
Stereotypes make the South digestible; rather quickly, the music of The Avett Brothers is shaping its own stereotype, its own emblem of what the South can sound like. Bands like Mipso are preordained to Avett comparisons - no matter if they like it, no matter if it's warranted, and no matter if it hurts or helps their career.
We are surrounded by the message that alcohol is fun, sexy, desirable and harmless. We get this message many times a day. We get it from ads and, far more insidiously, we get it from the media, which depend upon alcohol advertising for a large share of their profits. Thanks to this connection, alcohol use tends to be glorified throughout the media and alcohol-related problems are routinely dismissed.Phil Ochs for my cousin Roger Newby, who died Dec. 23 after suffering some hard times over the years. My heart is with his mother, my aunt Carolyn, who loved him very much. I'm satisfied, however, that Roger is now at peace. Only a coin toss separates him from me. Nascentes morimur.
"Show me the whiskey stains on the floor- Phil Ochs
Show me a drunk as he stumbles out the door
And I'll show you a young man
With many reasons why
And there but for fortune, go you or I..."