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Turn off anything that portrays or supports gun violence on television, in the movies, or on the Internet.

4 January 2010 2 Comments

Level: Community — Pillar: Conflict Transformation

This week’s featured story came in from Washington, DC:

During my freshman year of college, I enrolled in a self-defense class. Every Tuesday night, together with 20 other eager young women, I descended into a dark, dank gymnasium basement where we enacted a series of physical attacks and learned corresponding – hopefully life-saving – defense techniques. When an attacker reaches for your arms, aim for his legs. If his hands are wrapped around your throat, strike at his inner elbows. I was comforted by the knowledge that a woman’s strength is in her hips and thighs, therefore being on the ground could sometimes actually work to my advantage. I embraced the opportunity to practice screaming – only after realizing that a lifetime of learning to be a girl had left me feeling physically incapable of mustering much more than a weak whisper.

January is Self-Defense Awareness Month. The focus is on educating individuals to take control of their personal safety. The objective is to replace fear with skills, knowledge, and confidence.

Luckily I have not confronted a situation where I have needed to use my self-defense skills (and I do consider this to be pure luck, especially given the fact that I live in a city with a higher homicide rate than most US cities – 23.33 murders per 100,000 people). However, I have no doubt that knowing how to avoid potentially harmful situations, how to outsmart an attacker, and how to effectively defend myself in the face of a physical assault is important. Even more important is the fact that my persistent sense of helplessness and powerlessness has dissipated as a result of this knowledge.

With that said, ten years after taking a self-defense class there is one aspect of the experience that continues to unnerve me. The memory of a plastic gun thrust in my face still momentarily paralyzes me to this day. There is no denying that the line between life and death is thin when a gun is involved. The strength of my hips are no help, a key poised between my fingers stands little chance, and a confident demeanor is worthless.

Worldwide, 1,000 people die every day as a result of gun violence; many because of the illegal global trade in small arms, which is estimated at $1 billion per year. A person dies from gun violence every 17 minutes in America. Individuals around the world are exposed to gun violence each day, sometimes without even noticing.

I think one of the most effective self-defense techniques we can all do as a global society is to prevent gun violence. We need to change our attitudes toward guns and violence. And it is critical that we imagine a future free from gun violence. That is self-defense!

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2 Comments to “Turn off anything that portrays or supports gun violence on television, in the movies, or on the Internet.”
  1. Susan Giesecke says:

    Thank you for a timely reminder. I will do this.

    The media is a powerful source of influence in our American society. The excitement often comes from violence.

    Studying and adopting peaceful actions in the face of violence is a worthy use of our time.

  2. I support the campaign says:

    I support the campaign to switch off the tv over violence on tv.


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