An American Band … more violence

Early this morning, I drove home in the dark from Eau Claire, where I taught last night. After listening to more than an hour of reportage and commentary on the Shady Hook shootings, gun control possibilities, and mental illness connections, I turned to the local Classic Rock station for respite. The familiar thump-thump of my teen years came out in the form of Grand Funk Railroad’s “American Band.” I listened. Though never much of a GFR fan, especially after sitting behind a pillar in the rafter seats at the old Chicago Stadium during their “Locomotive” tour. Still, I listened. For a while.

The boys of this American Band are in town to party it down. Lots of booze. Getting it on with the, ur, “ladies.” Tearing the hotel down. How many times have I heard these words and hummed along with the tune? Listened uncritically? Consumed ignorantly?

Regarding the Shady Hook killings and other massacres, along with the day in and day out murder and violence in America and militarism abroad and at home, I’ve been asserting that one of the root causes is our celebration and worship of violence. We are a violence loving culture — just look at our entertainments and behavior. To lessen the killing requires change in this bloody culture. And here I was listening to a small piece of it, though there was no mention of guns and killing.

In the wake of Sandy Hook, this puerile glorification of debauchery and destruction — violence — was no longer palatable, nostalgic, or entertaining. Maybe I’m finally outgrowing teenage macho pretense.

In any case, I turned off the radio.

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One Response to An American Band … more violence

  1. mmswedish says:

    I’ve been turning off the radio a lot these days, and the TV most of all, at least what passes for news coverage or political responses to what happened in Newtown. It all feels, sounds, rather pathetic. At the same time, I, too, have become much more aware of how almost unconsciously pervasive the culture and language of violence, rage, and of tearing-things-up as forms of protest or youthful expression are in our society. And then that culture and language has been commodified into highly profitable businesses and corporate practices, into video games and violent sports.

    What would happen if we turned it all off? Would we be able to hear our own hearts again? Would we collapse into puddles of our own grieving for the world we have made? Might we feel a bit of regret for all the ways we have aided and abetted the culture from which a Sandy Hook massacre could arise?

    Once we start paying attention, the noise becomes almost unbearable, doesn’t it? I turn it off so that I can hear my own pulse again, and the pulse at the heart of the world.

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