Violence and 2011

I was given a flier explaining that the world is going to end on May 21, 2011.

So far, the year has been rife with violence. At least, for me. On New Years eve, for no reason whatsoever, a fellow I had just met punched me in the back of the head. I had never before been in a fight. This was the best kind to be in: I was not the aggressor and I quickly won. It was not, however, some kind of Fight Club-esque, transcendental revelation. It was just strange. My thanks goes out to the blonde, tuxedoed white knight who pulled us apart while my companions cackled on.

Two other friends got in fights that night. Neither known for his violence.

At the warehouse attached to my mother’s office in upstate New York, three men were shot and a woman pistol-whipped. A motorcycle gang was having an illegal after party. All four of the wounded survived.

All of this before January 2nd.

My taillight was kicked in. While I researched replacements the next day, a few young men shot up a car outside of my house. I had never before heard gunshots intended to kill. Thankfully, none of the three passengers were hurt. Not even grazed. Still, I stopped complaining about my taillight.

On a grander stage, there was Tucson. The deaths of Christina Green, Dorothy Morris, Judge John Roll, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwan Stoddard and Gabriel Zimmerman are deeply sad. But the heroism of the bystanders is inspiring, the resulting conversation on American political rhetoric valuable and the recovery of Congresswoman Giffords remarkable.

Then there are the ongoing world events. The vote in Sudan to divide the nation. The protests in Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt. The concessions of the King of Jordan. So far these events are more notable for their lack of violence. But the line is thin and it may still be crossed.

I feel a bit ridiculous listing all of these occurrences in one blog post. It’s absurd to compare my New Years brawl with Tucson or Egypt. I don’t think of myself as a mystic but this is a mystical way to read the news. Still, I can’t help but feel strange about the contemporaneous occurrence of violent events in my personal life and those on the global stage. I justify myself by observing that nobody seems confident in how to react to the various world-historic events of the past month. I take heart because none of the events I’ve listed, from the shooting outside my house to the vote in Sudan, are as bloody as one would expect. What place does such a subjective, generalized assessment of current events have in political commentary? Probably none. Still, I offer a prediction: 2011 will be one of those years, like 1917 or 1969, that are long-remembered in the history man.

I only hope it’s not because that flier turns out to be right.

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