We have been taught since we were young that murder is a wrong doing, for it ends another life. Even the Declaration of Independence states that all men are given unalienable rights to Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness—which implies that killing another is eradicating their given rights. Then why is that there has been a sharp escalation in the murder rates in the United States? Is it a human tendency to kill one another? Or is it merely a passing phenomenon?
Although there has been a significant decline in the overall murder rates over the past several years, contemporary findings show that the recent murder rates in the United States have drastically increased. As depicted in the figure below, more than 30 cities have reported that there has been a shocking increase of murder rates since last year. In St. Louis, particularly, 136 people have had been killed this year—which is a 60 percent rise compared to the 85 murders they had last year.
Tamiko Holmes, a mother of five children, has lost two of her children over the past eight months; her daughter was shot during a robbery while the second got shot in the head while driving. With devastation and fear rising inside of her, Tamiko attempted to move out from Milwaukee with her three remaining daughters. Yet, one of her daughters was injured—again–by an unexpected shooting.
“The violence was nothing like this before,” said Ms. Holmes, “What’s changed is the streets and the laws and the parents. It’s become a mess and a struggle.”
The rising concerns for the escalating murder rates have triggered the government officials to take action and resolve the cause for this escalating outrage. However, rather than proposing a single direct solution, we were given a plethora of explanations and theories to why this is happening.
One interesting interpretation by rank-and-file officers is the “Ferguson effect”—the idea that the less hostile policing have encouraged citizens to become criminals. To some extent, this notion may be true; without strict regulations, citizens can have the tendency and the freedom to carry out evil unconscious desires. However, Richard Rosenfield, a criminologist from University of Missouri, stated that homicides in St. Louis have already escalated since 2014—which was before the Ferguson incident, where a police officer killed an innocent teenager. This belied the”Ferguson Effect” and made officials further investigate the reason for rise in crime.
Another prominent theory comes from the power of materialism. Today, our society mainly relies on one’s social rank and wealth. Adding on to that, the large social gap gives room for conflict and jealousy.
Despite the negative aspects of murdering, Amy and Beth Purdon—twin sisters who have recently moved to Korea International School from California, gives an interesting opinion. “ I don’t think murdering is justified;because, it hurts not only the victim but also their family. But it is alright if you do it to protect yourself from danger.” This suggests that in some cases, where one is in a desperate situation, murdering or use of violence may be justified for he or she is protecting oneself from eradicating their unalienable rights. On the other hand, Kelley Shim (’18), a freshmen student, suggested in an interview that “murdering is a sin, regardless of the situation, because you forcefully take another person’s life”. These two seemingly contradictory opinions allows us to ponder on what KIS’s teenagers think about an oppressing situation going on in U.S.
Although government officials have stated that they will hold a meeting regarding the soaring notion during late September, the actions to resolve this situation solely depends on the citizens themselves. Allowing this situation to go untouched will only lead to further conflicts and tension among the society. Bethann Maclin’s daughter, for example, stays inside most of the time, fearing the tangible violence that looms outside of her house. If these situations continue to grow, it is not difficult to imagine what the streets of America would look like in the near future.
A possible key to solving this ongoing problem is to elongate the method of teaching our young generations to be generous and to remind them that murdering—or any other violence—is a wrong behavior when performed for unjustifiable reasons. Recent research shows that most of us are not purposely doing wrong doings, but rather unconsciously doing it since we are not reminded. Perhaps with the right guidance and constant reminders of morality, the escalating rates will soon decline.
Even though the answer to whether murdering is justified is unanswered and a single cause is unknown, we should continue to teach our younger generation to respect others and their needs.
– Sarah Oh (‘19)
Featured Image: Chris Urso for The Tampa Tribune