February 25, 2018
I’m trying to put a finger on my relationship with animals. There is some connection there that I can quite convert into words. I just went for a walk, it’s windy, and there were crows having some fun in the wind. One of them hovered above and in front of me, just above a light pole, tweaking its wings to stay vertically aligned with its landing pad as it slowly descended and plopped down gracefully on the top of the light.
“You’re so cool, crow” I found myself saying, out loud, and felt something — not quite love, but something like that — for this crow, and all crows, and indeed all animals.
Why is that? How is it that I can look at a dog or a cat or a crow and smile uncontrollably, but look at a baby and just want to kick it?
That’s something for me to think about.
There is of course one human that I can’t think of without smiling. I think you know who you are.
And if you don’t, it’s you, Erica.
I went to my local coffee shop a few days ago, “can I have a large cap, one sugar”. The girl grimaced, showing three rows of shiny braces. I don’t know how there were three rows, when by all rights there should only be two, but I looked away in horror so quickly that I’m afraid I can’t offer any more information over and above the row count.
Anyway, brace-face proceeded to tell me that no, I couldn’t have a large cap with one sugar, or indeed any number of sugars, or indeed any type of coffee — for they were out of beans.
For the second time.
For fuck’s sake people, you had one job. Running out of beans once is a funny catastrophe, but twice?
I think the owner has missed his calling. The calling — to be specific — is to be anything but a coffee shop owner.
A seed is beginning to form in my head about the connection between being offended and school shootings. It is well known that America is an outlier when it comes to violence. The rest of the democratic world has slowly declined in their rate of killing to around 1 person per 100,000 per year. Japan is 0.3 per 100,000 per year, Germany is 0.8, the UK is 0.9, Australia is 0.98, Canada is 1.68.
Then the US is 4.88. More than Niger, Cuba, Iran, Egypt, Turkey.
And that number is for the whole country. There is a band across the top of the country that is quite civilised. If you head south you’ll find Louisiana at 12, Missouri at 9, Alabama at 8.
There’s a theory behind this, and it goes like this: as civilisations advanced and a state was put in place to punish bad deeds, the need for one to ‘settle one’s own score’ diminished.
So today, countries where The Law can be relied upon to justly punish those who do wrong, murder rates tend to be lower. The responsibility of dolling out justice is essentially outsourced to the state.
In countries where this is not the case, people tend to take the law into their own hands, and the concept of honour, leftover from many decades ago, lives on.
I’ve been reading about this and wondering, if people in the Southern US are killing each other at 10 times the rate of civilised countries, what is it that’s different here. It’s not just guns because the Northern US is not that much worse than a lot of Europe.
Looking at one-on-one murders, ‘honour’ is a common theme. Righting wrongs is a repeating pattern, hinted at by the fact that most murders are between people that knew each other. So let’s call it an established fact that murders happen when one person is upset by another person and in their own mind, they are doing the right thing — they are providing justice in a world that won’t do it for them.
The more a sensitive sissy you are, the more likely you are to murder someone.
In truly civilised countries, this feeling of ‘honour’ is not as strong. Certainly not something worth killing over.
So I’m wondering if this idea of ‘honour’ is mixed in with the idea of being ‘offended’ at every little thing. Perhaps the more normalised being offended is, the more normal it is to ‘defend one’s honour’ via the use of violence.
It’s seems to be that going on about how offended you are by something or other is a speciality of Americans — although I have no data for this (mental note, do some analysis of Tweets looking for prevalence of taking offence by region and map this against murder rates).
Could it be that school shootings come from a mix of feeling offended, feeling that your honour has been attacked, that justice needs to be served, that if you don’t serve it no one will, that mass shootings are on the news every few months — it’s not such a weird thing to consider, and that a machine gun is a few hundred bucks at your local supermarket.
So just as ‘honour’ is more and more seen as something old fashioned and a little bit silly, perhaps ‘being offended’ needs to be seen in the same light. Really it’s a sign of weakness and it’s quite interesting that it’s often announced with such pride.
So I’ll be doing my part by mocking anyone that I see getting offended about anything for the rest of my life.