"Evil visited this community today," is how Governor Molloy described the awful events that occurred at a Newtown Connecticut Elementary school. Whenever a "terrorist" attacks and innocents are slaughtered, we begin referencing religious concepts and asking the inevitable questions. Why do they hate us? Why would someone commit such an atrocity? Why was a flawed, obviously insane individual allowed access to weapons? The 24 hour cable "news" networks voyeuristically "report" firsthand accounts and "talking head experts" speculate regarding motive and intent. But yet we ignore the obvious, and refuse to look at who we are, better, what we've become, as a nation, a people, that makes such awful events not an aberration, but an all too common occurrence of slaughter and mayhem. We live in a culture where violent video games replaced Mr. Rogers as entertainment for our children; where the youngest and most impressionable among us cyber kill virtual human beings for amusement, to occupy their time, and to prepare them to become weapons in perpetual war that goes unquestioned; where violence has replaced diplomacy; where torture is condoned; where truth telling ("whistle blowing") is a crime warranting imprisonment and solitary confinement; where murder is celebrated as a positive achievement of leadership and as evidence for a candidate's qualification for four more years as president; where drones summarily execute human beings without trial, accusation, and with little outrage; where the adoration of the weapons and technology of killing and destruction ("Memorial Day Air Shows") serve to honor the wasted in war and to ritualize the changing of seasons. We are a culture of hate, greed, and violence, killing our own as we kill others. We have lost our moral compass and have become the pariah of the human community. So Governor, I fear that evil is not merely an unwelcome visitor but lives among us and if I may quote the Bhagavad Gita, we "have become death the destroyer of worlds."
Camillo "Mac" Bica, PhD, is a professor of philosophy at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He is a former Marine Corps officer, Vietnam veteran, longtime activist for peace and social justice, and the coordinator of the Long Island Chapter of Veterans for Peace.