George Wolfe: Reject our Culture of Violence
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, IN - The sound from George Wolfe's saxophone was as strong as his words about peaceful coexistence amid a culture of violence.
And that message, having the courage to reject the culture of violence rang out during a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. memorial concert Thursday presented by the Ball State University School of Music.
Wolf, a music professor and director of the peace and conflict studies center, offered some thoughts about the recent gun control debate besides reminding the crowd about King's mission to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to it.
Much has been said about the massacre of elementary school children in Newtown, CN. besides other mass killings like Virginia Tech or Aurora, CO. said Wolfe. A recent study in the Washington Post reported the country's gun murder rate is 20 times the average of all other developed countries.
That should be no surprise, Wolfe said, with a culture of violence in movies, television and video games. Even professional sports have become more violent, reinforced by the cheers of raved fans. Wolfe said the huge surge in guns sales after the proposed assault weapons ban proposed by President Barack Obama attests to the misguided fears of many Americans.
"We have a paranoid citizenry who mistakenly fall into the delusion that arming more people with guns is the answer," he said. And the paranoia comes when the county celebrates the teaching of King who used the force of nonviolent resistance to end segregation in America.
"It is his voice we must listen t in this time of increasing violence in our culture," Wolfe said. Using King's speech accepting the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, Wolfe reminded the crowd what King believed in that man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. And King believed that violence only leads to new and more complex social problems when Malcolm X was assassinated.
Recent remarks by leaders of the National Rifle Association also offer false or misleading information, Wolfe said, counter to what NRA members or police say.
NRA President David Keene recently rejected the limits on high capacity ammunition magazines besides universal registration and background checks. But a recent New York Times poll found 85 percent of households with NRA members are in favor of universal background checks. Wayne LaPierre, NRA vice president, also made a remark that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. In fact, Wolfe said, there are countless times police, counselors, and family members have disarmed criminals and ended confrontations with words and not guns.
Wolfe closed with saying Obama recognizes he stands on the shoulders of King and to fulfill King's dream, people must have the courage to reject our culture of violence. Those words gave way to "Amazing Grace" by America's Hometown Band and other African American spirituals celebrating King's legacy.