Since part two was short, I'll talk about something completely different. A while back a couple of overseas bloggers sent emails to me wondering why there is so much violence in this country right now (about 3 times more than any other western country.) They also thought that abortions were totally illegal in the USA. My blog is not a political or religious blog and I don't often talk on these subjects but since they asked me I'll try to answer them with what I learned and observed since coming into the US in the 1960s. From my various readings it seems that violence has deep roots in this country from way back, not just in our time. Trying to learn about the holiday of Thanksgiving, the fourth Thursday of November, I realized that most of it is myth and propaganda. On a site I read "The first day of thanksgiving took place in 1637 amidst the war against the Pequot (branch of the Mohawk people.) 700 men, women, and children of the Pequot tribe were gathered for their annual green corn dance on what is now Groton, Connecticut. Dutch and English mercenaries surrounded the camp and proceeded to shoot, stab, butcher and burn alive all 700 people. The next day the Massachusetts Bay Colony held a feast in celebration and the governor declared "a day of Thanksgiving." Now the American Indians celebrate the day as a National Day of Mourning - read about it here.
In several women diaries, from the mid 1840s, who rode on the overland trail in wagons from the east of the USA to Oregon and California, they described how the American settlers were so scared of the American Indians that they would shoot them on sight. After a while of course the Indians fought back, but the American western movies depict also a myth as more Indians were killed by American settlers than settlers were killed by Indians. As the wagons drove on the Indian lands, they also shot the buffaloes, used the grass for their animals leaving the area arid, and also took the Indian land they liked. These were painful books to read. Below is the Oregon Train painted by William Henry Jackson, American 1843-1942.
But the American colonists and missionaries did more to destroy native cultures than gun did. In California the American Indians were forced to go into Catholic missions, where they were held prisoner - in fact the Christian missions were coercive religious, force labor camps. As many as 100,000 Indians perished there from disease, malnutrition, enslavement and murder. A growing number of scholars have come to view this as mass genocide of California Indians.
Not to forget the Trail of Tears - President Andrew Jackson's murderous removal of the Indians to Oklahoma where thousands died along the route. Later there were killing of pro-slavery people against those who wanted to free the slaves. There is a list of violence in the US, from the 1800s till now and it is a long list. If you are interested look here.The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) was founded in 1866 and by 1870 they were in every Southern US state - they are still active today. At its peak in 1920, the Klan had 4 million members. They advocate white supremacy, white nationalism, anti-immigration and are considered a right-wing extremist and Protestant Christian terrorist organization.
As you can see violence has been pervasive in American culture since its colonial past. They love their guns and if you have a firearm you tend to use it. Many people here don't like civilized discussions about politics and religion - it is mostly "hate" of the "other." They do not like to engage in talking about these subjects at all. There is also the problem with fear - I remember several years ago, a couple of Korean tourists were lost, no far from here. They knocked at a door to ask directions and the owner of the house came with his gun and shot them as he was afraid of them. That does not apply to every person here, but still to a large number as you can see from any statistic - gun death is as common as car crashes and there are more guns here than people (357,000,000.) Domestic violence kills an average of three women each day by their husband, partner, etc. Children are also victims. From 1979 to 2013, 119,079 children and teens have been killed by gun violence. That is more child and youth deaths in America than American battle deaths in World War I (53,402) or in Vietnam (47,434) or in the Korean War (33,739) or in the Iraq War (3,517.) It looks like guns are the solution to every problem. But people here do not like to talk about this national penchant for violence. It is fine to watch violent movies on TV or in theatres, or in video games, or to watch someone being shot in the news, but if a singer has a dress malfunction at a Super Bowl game and her breast is exposed - people are outraged. Below Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson before wardrobe malfuntion at Super Bowl 2011 - courtesy USA Today.
Abortion in the USA has been legal since 1973. However a group of white extreme Christian fundamentalists (usually far-right Republicans) would like to change the law and ban all abortions; although a 2012 survey found that 77% of Jewish Republican voters think that abortions should be legal and the percentage of Americans who are "pro-choice" is the highest in the last 7 years. The radical Christian fundamentalists are a small minority - but very vocal, and they vote en masse. The media keeps reporting on them and not on the majority of mainstream Christians (as they are afraid of Christian backlash.) According to a recent Pew data, a majority of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Since 1977 some extreme member of "pro-life" movements have began attacking clinics and personnel. Doctor and staff have been killed with an additional 17 attempted murders, 42 bombings, 186 arson attacks and other illegal acts against abortion clinics. They also try to de-fund Planned Parenthood even though only 3% (out of the nearly 10.6 million total services they provide) has to do with abortion and is not paid by the government. Many citizens are against this gun violence but not much is done - the members of the US Congress are voted in but it looks like they are appointed - voters could chose other congressmen if they so wished. Below is the US Congress, courtesy Wikipedia.
Most mainstream Christians are against this violence, but they rest silent. I remember a co-worker told me that his son worked for a major TV news network (Fox News.) They had been told, at the time, that all newsmen/women in the business should never use the term "Christian terrorist" as it would hurt the networks' ratings. This was during the Balkan wars. In the summer of 1995, from July 11 through 13, 1995, the Christian Orthodox Serbs killed 8,373 Bosnian Muslims. During this war there were over 38,200 civilian Muslim casualties. But the Serbs were always referred to (at least in the USA) as "ethnic" Serbs, never Christian Orthodox. The same happened after the Colorado shooting at a Planned Parenthood office, on 27 November 2015, where a Christian extremist killed 3. Major TV networks made a pact not to call the murderer a Christian extremist (even though his ex-wife said he was a fervent evangelical Christian and admired the Christian terrorist anti-abortion organization "Army of God") but a "deranged" "lone wolf" person. The media also said the American public only believes religious extremists are from other countries - usually Muslim (there has been a record number of anti-Muslim hate attacks this year.) Below is the killing field in Srebrenica - courtesy France 24.
The FBI has reported that most of the terrorists' incidents in the last ten years have been perpetrated by white right-wing extremists, extremist Christians and "pro-life" members. The Justice Dept reported that since 9/11 there has been an average of 377 attacks per year from these groups. Sister Joan Chittister, a Catholic nun, has exposed the hypocrisy of the Republican White Christian extremists - she said "I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion, that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don't? Because you don't want any tax money to go there. That's not pro-life. That's pro-birth ...." When I was in Nice, France, several years ago, I saw a "pro-life" rally. I was surprised because everyone was wearing the same pink tee-shirt - it just did not look like a regular French protest. When digging a bit I found out that it had been organized and paid for, in France, by wealthy US abortion protesters. Why is the public here not stopping these Christian fundamentalist extremists and all the gun violence? I think they are cowed and apathetic - hoping if will go away. They stay silent, just giving their "thoughts and prayers" afterwards to the victims' families. I don't think it will improve in the near future.
Some of my readers might be upset by these observations, but they are intended to my overseas readers who do not understand the political, the violence and the religious climate here. I researched it all and am not making it up. The USA is a great country, but as in other countries, it has its problems. We cannot always look at it through rose colored glasses and refuse to talk about it.
It is more peaceful to look at nature. Several mornings ago, I saw this little yellow flower (a small sunflower?) growing from our roof gutter. I guess it could grow because my husband (unstable on his feet since his Alzheimer disease) has not been able to climb on the roof.
Then two days ago, just about 10 feet from the driveway, we saw this superb hawk. I did not have my camera and went back into the house to get it. The bird had not moved and I was able to take several pictures.
Addendum: After reading some comment I would like to re-emphasize that I was not criticizing the USA - I was answering some friends who asked me why there was so much violence now, social and religious. I researched it and found out that violence has been in the culture for a long time. I am not commenting on what is good, bad, or in between in the USA - that was not my subject - the history of social and religious violence was. Last year, there were 16,000 criminal homicides in the US. This is three times the number of lives lost in the entire Iraq war; 300 each week, more than 40 every day. Facts are facts. Below is a graph showing violence in the US against other rich countries.