Like every other decent human being in the world who has heard of it, I am appalled and saddened by the Charleston shootings.
As an American, I'm frustrated as well--frustrated that somehow, our society seems to foster an environment where evil like this grows, grotesquely flourishes, and continues unabated. The acceleration of these incidents seems indicative of a major moral problem, if not at the heart of our society, then certainly gnawing closer to it each day.
I'm frustrated by racism and all sources of irrational hate.
Like many of you, I'm also deeply frustrated that it doesn't seem, often, as though anything we common folks do can change this place. But I think it would be wrong to succumb to such hopelessness and despair.
I'm no politician, and the complexities of our legal system are beyond my purview. I'm not in law enforcement, so in a similar sense, I have no ability to work towards better systems of defense on a practical level. I'm not an educator, so any innovative ways of determining which young people stand out as potential time bombs, or new ways to teach such children are likewise beyond my influence.
What I am is a musician and a father, and I do know quite a bit about the arts, their importance, and parenting in this society. And as a society I think we need to start, seriously, rejecting art that promotes violent, hate-filled fantasy lives. In some cases, this includes books that my kids can check out of their school library, but it's not limited to children's literature (which is becoming haunted with evil fantasy). And before I go any further, I'm not talking about book burnings or censorship, but concerted societal rejection, built person by person, parent by parent, artist by artist--a rejection so all encompassing that degrading, violent fantasy-inspiring art loses the vast market it now possesses.
The imagination is no insubstantial or unimportant thing, and the exercise of it in many ways determines our character.
Let's think seriously about the music in our homes, the video games, the books, the movies. Let's raise our children with good things. As artists, let's produce music, dance, films, that delve into the deepest truths of human experience, which are ultimately soaringly beautiful rather than hellishly violent.
The artistic culture of our nation is increasingly synthetic, superficial, disposable, pornographic, and dark. Any type of progress towards a healthier environment must involve artists and parents providing and teaching art which is both profound and uplifting.
I hope and pray that our politicians, law enforcement, teachers, and everyone else find new solutions to eradicate the obvious problems with our society. As a musician and parent, I challenge other musicians and parents to stop accepting and consuming the dark, violent fantasy world that has such a grip on our market, our children, and our culture.