Monday, December 17, 2012

What's wrong with us?

This is what I'm going to say about this and this is all I'm going to say. We have a lot of firearms in the USA. We always have had. For a few, hunting for food or furs or hides and protection from wild animals makes them necessary. For many, protecting the hen house, the livestock, the crops, might require a firearm.  For some a firearm is something you shoot at paper targets or clay pigeons with at the country club. For others, it puts meat on the table and for some, they can be relics of history prized for craftsmanship or beauty or historical value. For many, living in a violent and dangerous area, people who have to transport valuables, people who are a target for criminals for many reasons;  having a gun is peace of mind.  For such people, being associated with psychotics and terrorists and hit-men and bandits and deranged murderers is offensive and worthy of scornful denunciation. And don't we hear a lot of it?

We have a lot of people in this country who cannot conceive that any of the above will own one for any justifiable reason or that firearms exist for any other reason but to kill someone, and so these horrifying and otherwise useless pieces of metal must be made to disappear and right now and at all cost. If you don't agree with that, words will be placed in your mouth that prove how deranged you are so don't even try to explain. Many of those people, and  they are in the minority, refuse to discuss what needs to be done to protect us all from crime and the grotesque results of a madman with a gun or a bomb unless and only unless there's a prior agreement to reduce or eliminate or severely curtail the right to own one. For them it's guns and guns alone that explain the needless death of innocents and the notion that the murderer is more guilty than his weapon is offensive and well worthy of scorn and mockery. It's all about guns, guns, guns and guns alone and don't we hear a lot about it?

Welcome to American fear, American extremism and American intransigence. Neither side will talk to the other with the intent to understand, just as with so many things America concerns itself with. Neither side will brook any discussion of the complexity of human behavior and motivation, the cost of reducing risk, the efficacy of anything that has already been tried or proposed, the "other side" certainly being so far into a delusional state or simply so committed to brutality and mayhem that there is no middle ground between "we must trust the people" and "it's too dangerous ever to trust the people" and no point to looking for it.

What will never be discussed is the very reason discussion is futile. That reason is us.  What we don't want to talk about and what we cover up and distract from with epithets like Libtard or gun nut, with shibboleths like the NRA or the Brady Bunch or the Gungrabbers or the Gun Culture or even made up discussions is that it just may be that the enemy is not some piece of metal and explosive, some nefarious group of bogeymen, but something to do with who and what we Americans are and why we seem to be different, so angry, so afraid, so filled with self pity and lack of compassion.  It just may have something to do with the reason Switzerland with a widespread love of shooting and hunting; Switzerland where there are 46 guns per hundred residents has virtually no gun crime, nobody shooting up the schools and movie theaters -- and the US with about twice as many has vastly more than twice as much. What causes that difference is something we need to talk about.  Without doing that, all we will hear are rationalizations of prejudice and peremptory proclamations of belief  --  but that's up to you the people, because I'm too disgusted to give a damn any more.


Shared Humanity said...

The source of all violence is fear and weakness.

Those who are weak and fearful will use violence to control the frightening world around them. They perceive a threat and seek to eliminate the threat through the preparation for and perpetration of violent acts. The inevitable result will be a violent response as those perceived threats, in turn, out of fear and weakness resort to violence. The violence will escalate to achieve control. If the perpetrator is successful in gaining and maintaining control, it is not evidence of strength but a manifestation of fear and weakness. This perceived control, the projection of power through violence, is temporary and an illusion. The violence has the potential and most often results in damage to or the destruction of the perpetrator and the target.

Fear and weakness is the source of violence wherever it occurs; domestic, crime, road rage, wars, institutional arguments and destruction. In wars a nation will marshal its resources to attack and overwhelm an enemy. The successful execution of a war is provided as evidence of courage and strength but they are, in fact, an expression of fear and weakness. In order to wage a war, leaders must first nurture a climate of fear and vulnerability in its citizens. Only then can they gain the support for violent acts against the perceived threat.

All violence (individual, institutional, national, international) has, as its source, the biology of the human species; it is encoded in our genes and an evolutionary advantage. All of humanity is thus capable of violent acts when consumed by fear and weakness. The perceived threat and source of fear is, ultimately, existential.

If violence is not evidence of courage and strength, but a manifestation of fear and weakness, what is peace? Peace is clearly an expression of courage and strength, particularly when confronted by violence. Who can look at the lives of Gandhi, King or Jesus and not see clear evidence of courage and strength? The existential threat was present in every case and ultimately realized. Courage is not the absence of fear; it exists in the presence of fear. Strength is not the ability to present an existential threat to others but the ability to display courage when personally confronted by this threat. The principal at Sandy Hook displayed courage. The firemen and policemen who raced up the stairs of the twin towers showed courage.

Anyone who is selling fear is expressing their weakness.

Achieve peace; be strong; display courage.

Capt. Fogg said...

Well, I think good old fashioned greed is a factor too, but I won't argue.

You know freedom - and especially someone elses freedom is a scary thing as better writers than I am have said.

Some would cite me for weakness for wanting to include as many factors as possible in the quest for school security - and they're doing it, but if you're saying violence isn't going to go away so easily and not just by taking away the tools, than I do agree.

timr said...

no one mentions the fact that mental health care in this country does not really exist. We warehouse our mentally ill in jails and prisons and never give them any treatment.
Every single mass killer in the US has had mental problems that other people knew about but did nothing.
Instea we once more rush to putting up a new version of the old assult weapons ban, but this time with 900 exemptions. It will, once again ban some long guns because they "look" dangerous. Once again we will debate about banning guns because of their cosmetic appearance rather than what they can do.
Once again we will ignore the reality of our closing of mental hospitals back in 83 and instead offer up a bandage about guns that will do nothing to fix the problem of crazy people shooting up people in job lots.
There are already over 300 million guns in the US. Until we come to understand the fact that in fly over country people use guns all the time, people in the country carry guns for reasons that people on the east and west coasts do not seem even willing to understand, rather they lump us all together under the term "gunnut". OTOH, the people in fly over country do not understand the POV of the big city people. We are 2 groups of people who are talking past rather than talking to each other.

Capt. Fogg said...

Well said and thank you.