Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Some Disparate Notes on 230908

Some notes on the events of 230908:

1) It's interesting how the comments on Kauhajoki shootings seem to be like an exact re-run of those related to the Jokela massacre last November. Like now, tabloids were having a field day, politicians were paying a lot of lip service; there were claims of tightening the gun laws, readers' letters to newspapers expressing a concern of the well-being of children and teenagers, taking care of your neighbours, and so on, but how much had eventually changed, after the media furore and the flames of candle vigils had vanished? Judging by Tuesday's outcome, not much.

2) At the Net café that I frequent I witness daily 10-year olds playing shoot-'em-up games and planning together strategies for virtual massacres. It would be pretty horrifying to listen to these kids casually negotiate a cold-blooded murder when having a rampage through the pixellated killing fields -- how to blow this guy's head with a shotgun, or maybe just use an assault rifle there -- if I didn't know it was just a game. Boys will be boys, you know. But I just wonder. What sort of values will these kids suck up when playing these harmless(?) games; what will become of them when they grow up? If things go well, when they grow up they will properly go through the whole process of socialization and will become responsible citizens, loving husbands and fathers, who understand the distinction between a game and reality. But what if things just don't go well?

3) Finland is a cold and bleak country. So it is with Finnish society. It's a national virtue to survive alone without any outside help and just bite the bullet (just talking metaphorically), and when you are on your own, you are on your own. We don't complain, we just suffer and die alone. (On the other hand and maybe paradoxically, individualism is traditionally frowned upon here: Jante's Law is our great Scandinavian tradition.) Totalitarian societies ever since Sparta of antiquity have always admired hardness and looked down on weakness. With today's societies always boasting such things as democracy and human rights (especially in comparison to their political and economic rivals), this "might is right" ethos has found new and refined forms. Bullying is alive and well at all stages of society, from school to workplaces to reality-TV. Even some of our greatest Presidents have gone down to history as bullies. A bullied person has no other options except to submit or to fight back. It's no use waiting to get some sympathy or an intervention, because none might be coming. Both shooters of 071107 and 230908, Pekka-Eric Auvinen and Matti Saari respectively, were reportedly victims of bullying. So were their Stateside predecessors of Columbine High and Virginia Tech, Finns always being great admirers and copycats of all things 'Merkin.


Todd Mason said...

Sadly, the bullies you cite in the US decided they'd pay back that bullying multifold. The Finns, too, I gather.

Within a week of each other, a few years back, we had two harried men wander into schools, take teenaged girls hostage, and aspire to set up their own little temporary rape dungeons. One succeeded in raping a few of his hostages before being shot...the other, who planned a bit less "well," started shooting his Amish hostages in the head before getting around to anything genital.

One can sympathize with those men's pain only so much, when they in turn became that much worse than anything, as far as we know, which shaped them.

But the cowardice of most people, in the face of witnessing bullying of others and doing nothing to stop it, has certainly led to entirely Too Much Fun throughout the human experience.

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