Senator Chris Murphy On The Violence Inside Us
Thank you so much for joining us. You start out your book by talking about a fistfight that you got into in first grade and I think one of the most striking things you write about that you felt like you were just hardwired to fight. Can you tell me and my listeners that story and what you meant by that? You know this is the introduction by the way. Let's the thanks for having me on. Again this is a topic that both you and I are obviously deeply committed to in this book is really about my study of the issue gun over the last seventy. Years Changed in twenty twelve of the shooting in Connecticut and I think what I wanted to communicate at the beginning of this book is a recognition that there is violence that sits inside all of us that as a species, we are hardwired for violence and well, ninety nine point, nine percent of Americans had never taken a life very few of us have never had a moment in which we didn't at least contemplate putting our hands on someone else. That's because our species is actually more violent, much more violent historically then almost any other and so it's important for us to recognize that so. That we can make changes in the way that we associate with ourselves, the rules that govern us to try to tamp down that instinct, and that's what this book is really about it's about the long human has Rian violence and how we've been pretty effective in controlling it but then America's unique history of violence and how we've been very ineffective in this country at controlling it. It's interesting because you say that we're hardwired for violence and it makes me think of fight flight or freeze, which is our natural response to any kind of danger that response to sits at the bottom of our. Brain stem, which is like the most primitive part of our entire body. It has not evolved at all, and so that is there for survival mechanisms. Right is there for survival mechanisms, but our body has actually sent a message that it doesn't like to use that mechanism. So this stories in the book as well when you experience that fight or flight moment, right when you're presented with such a danger that you either run or you fight back, your body releases a hormone cortisol, and at the moment that hormone is really helpful because it helps you make quick decisions and it gives you a little. Bit more courage and strength. But in the long run cortisol breaks your brain, it breaks your brain and so if you have these fighter flight moments every day or every week, then you literally can't learn you can't relate to other human beings and so why we call the epidemic of violence in this nation of public health epidemic is because kids who live in violent neighborhoods fear for their life every time they walk to the Corner Bodega or their school in the morning, their brains are broken by this hormone that gets released over and over and over again, and so it's no coincidence that. The underperforming schools are all in the highly neighborhoods, kids whether their shot at or not. They simply are different or bodies respond differently because of this constant exposure trauma, and then you add just food vulnerability and how hard it is to find fresh produce and all of those things that helped to restore the brain, restore the body, and then it becomes a whole other issue nourishment makes it very difficult for a child to learn and for a brain to grow. I. Want to ask you how do you think violence in America is different than violence in the rest of the world the first part Of this book is really a story of the trajectory of American violence and what's interesting is that America is actually not a wildly violent place until about the middle of the eighteen hundreds and three things happen there that separate us from the rest of the world and we never returned back to Earth we became a more violent nation and we still are more validation and quickly the three things are in their interesting I. It's the expansion of the slave population in the south. After the invention of the cotton gin more slaves means more violence in the country kind of becomes anesthetize to violence. Numb to it because it's what is necessary in order to just keep our economy together second, you've got all these waves of immigrants coming to the United States in what history tells us is that the more groups in one space at one time the more risk there is for conflicts and violence but then lastly, it's the invention of handgun and the decision of the United States to not regulate that weapon it gets sold in every corner of the United States and all of a sudden common arguments on the street become deadly because you've got this little weapon that you can hide in your pocket.