This Sandy Hook thing has brought out the mini-tyrant in all sorts of do-gooders, most of which who want a ban on guns to make themselves feel better. Take, for example, the quite rational and calm Piers Morgan:
Is this debate going to take place in the realm of facts or the realm of emotional ego? Does any debate in this country ever occur in the former realm?
A few other things to consider:
- This handy go-to guide on guns.
- A good friend found this link (thanks CM!), which poses a great question about reporters, talking heads, politicians, and others who wish to ban guns: “Just as when talking equity trades in the news and having to disclose that you are invested in what you are talking about, shouldn’t those who are armed or have bodyguards disclose their use of firearms when they are calling to ban them?“
- Cars kill more people than guns every year. 40,000 or more, to be exact. Should they be banned, or are we again in the land where intent is all that matters?
- Mace Windu notes that there is something else about our culture, other than video games and guns, that is causing violence. He is a Jedi, so of course you must listen, but the most notable thing about what he says is that he believes we lack respect for life in America. With abortion now banal, war the new normal, torture ignored or even dramafied, and the state continually robbing all of us, of course that is true. It is nice to hear someone in Hollywood with half a brain.
- Remember how the Obama Admin is stocking up on weapons and ammo? Why the double standard here?
- A story:
- Anonymous responds:
- A comment by a GU student on FB:
Ever since Friday’s tragic massacre, I have felt compelled to weigh in with thoughts of my own, but I intentionally chose to wait at least a couple of days to contemplate those thoughts and shape them very carefully. This will be long, but I hope you find, well worth reading and possibly even sharing with others.
In observing society’s reactions, it seems we can summarize them into several camps: those who want restrictions on guns, those who want better mental health care, those who want more guns and/or security in our schools, and those who believe prayer in schools is the answer.
For those who want more restrictions, I can see your point. Had this shooter had a more difficult time obtaining weapons in the heat of the moment, perhaps it could have been avoided, but that’s presuming he acted in the heat of the moment. My guess is that, since he was wearing body armor, this was a deliberately and carefully premeditated act, and all the gun control in the world is not going to keep a gun out of the hands of a determined killer, especially considering the nearly 300 million guns in private ownership. Enact all the laws you want, and it won’t make those 300 million guns magically disappear. Outlaw those guns in existence and you’re looking at another civil war.
For those who want better mental health care, I can see your point. Had someone recognized this man’s issues and sent him to a specialist to be treated accordingly, perhaps the entire tragedy would have been avoided. This also makes a presumption, though. This presumes someone close to him would have noticed and cared enough to send him to treatment. Create all the access to health care you want and it won’t magically change the stigma associated with psychiatric care, nor will it instantly create more mindful parents and family members.
For those who want more guns and/or security, I can see your point. An armed society truly is a more polite society, but that also presumes a stable level of sanity and rationality. Human beings are unpredictable. This shooter obtained weapons from a legal gun owner, and I cannot see how arming a teacher and expecting that teacher to become Rambo at the first sign of gunfire is a realistic expectation. That only seems to work in the movies. In the Portland incident, people thought balloons were popping. Most people wouldn’t even be able to recognize gunfire when confronted with it. Also, more security? Do we want our schools to resemble maximum security prisons, because at what point do we stop, once we start adding more and more measures? Also, why are we adding this security? Children are already a collectively protected resource in any society, which is why this tragedy is made all the more heinous. Children are off-limits, whether in crime or in war, and when that unspoken truth is violated, we should not be questioning how to lock up our children, but why this truth has been violated to begin with.
For those who want prayer in schools, I can see why you might say such a thing, but I would challenge you to critically examine your belief systems. Do you really think God refuses to protect six year-old children because the government does not allow sanctioned (i.e., forced) prayer in its schools? How is this belief any different than those held by the wackos of Westboro, who contend that these acts are due to the fact that we, as a society, have angered God? Do you really believe that the gunman wouldn’t have committed this act if someone had just forced all those kids to pray every day? As food for thought, take a look at where prayer is most prevalent: churches. Nothing bad ever happens to children in churches, right? Personally, I can think of an atrocious number of heinous acts committed against children within the context of a prayer-rich environment. This argument is not about prayer or religion; it’s simply to state that efforts to reinstated prayer in schools are sadly misdirected energy that could better be spent elsewhere.
Finally, weighing in with my thoughts…
Gun control, security, prayer, health care – these are all policy changes. They involve legislation that would not necessarily be easy to enact, but could potentially be done. The problem is, none of them fix what created the problem to begin with, a problem conveniently ignored because we are too afraid to face it. That problem is us – each and every last one of us.
We have created and bought into a culture that says it’s okay to push the limits for the sake of entertainment. Compare media violence from thirty years ago to media violence of today. The envelope has been pushed repeatedly for the sake of shock value to the point where we fail to experience shock anymore. We have become numb. We have bought into it as a society and have allowed it to continue unfettered. We have become so entertainment-driven that we drown ourselves in media from wake up to slumber.
Also, in our relentless quest for individualism, we have forgotten that everything we do affects those around us. We have essentially forgotten that we belong to one another, not solely to ourselves. Yes, our children need us, but so do our neighbors, our coworkers, our bosses, our veterans, our homeless, our diseased, and yes, even our enemies. We, as a society, have become so self-absorbed, that we no longer see the intricate web of connections that exists and will continue to exist, regardless of our attitude about it. To borrow a quote from the 2004 movie, Crash, “It’s the sense of touch. In any real city, you walk, you know? You brush past people, people bump into you. In L.A., nobody touches you. We’re always behind this metal and glass. I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.”
In 2006, when the Amish experienced a similar tragedy, they recognized the problem immediately, and reached out to those affected, including the gunman’s widow, and sought forgiveness as a vehicle for healing before their children were even buried. They used dialogue to repair damaged connections in this web and came together as a community. They didn’t stock up on guns, put bars on their windows, or seek someone to blame; they sought a way to heal, collectively.
How can we prevent another tragedy like this from occurring? We need to change our culture, and that, unfortunately, is not easy. There is no legislation or policy that will do it. We have to do it, together, each and every one of us, and that is what nobody wants to admit. We all want an easy solution, for someone else to do it, and as Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka’s story would say, we want it now. That won’t happen. We need to begin healing, one person at a time. Start with your family. Ask your children what they did today and then stick around to listen as though it was the most important thing you’ve ever heard. Call your parents and remind them that you still love them just as much as you did when you were little. Invite your neighbor over for dinner and turn the TV off so that you all can talk and listen. Take your coworker or boss out to lunch or drinks without motive. Go find a stranger who looks like he or she could use some help and offer assistance without expectation. Find someone who disagrees with you on politics or religion and ask them to explain their position, but then, simply listen and do it without judgment. I have a feeling you will begin to see why they feel the way they do and that they are not as evil or misguided as you once judged them to be.
The 16 six year-olds, 4 seven year-olds, and six adults who were gunned down on December 14th were not just victims; they were martyrs for a society gone awry. Let’s honor them by changing course deliberately, intentionally, and with raw determination.
- Another FB comment worth the thought:
There were four mass killing attempts this week. Only one made the news because it helped the agreed upon media narrative.
Oregon. NOT a gun free zone. Shooter confronted by permit holder. Shooter commits suicide. Only a few casualties.
Texas. NOT a gun free zone. Shooter killed immediately by off duty cop. Only a few casualties.
Connecticut. GUN FREE ZONE. Shooters kills until the police arrive. Suicide. 26 dead.
China. GUN FREE COUNTRY. A guy with a KNIFE stabs 22 children.
And here is the nail in the coffin for Gun Free Zones. Over the last fifty years, with only one single exception (Gabby Giffords), every single mass shooting event with more than four casualties has taken place in a place where guns were supposedly not allowed.”
- And finally, an article I found the other day that I thought applied to a completely different scenario may be more applicable to the puzzle as to why Americans love violence. An excerpt:
God died. The seas of metaphysics were limitless again. A new horizon of possibility opened for all beliefs and ideals. Values were re-evaluated, re-molded, re-constructed – and each new value was made in the image of its creator: the individual self.
We were “freed” to think whatever we want, say whatever we want and believe whatever we want – more or less, that is. What we got: apparent freedom, inalienable “individual” rights and in America, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Later came the prevalent I-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude – with all its cool and edgy indifference. But I-don’t-give-a-fuck really means I-don’t-give-a-fuck-because-it-doesn’t-affect-me – this is the prevalent attitude of non-judgmentalism meets moral relativism. Sociologist Charles Smith found, after interviewing 230 young Americans, that the common response to standard moral questions (about rape, murder, theft) was one of bafflement. Young people lacked anything substantial to say about even extremely generic ethical questions. The default attitude was that moral choices are a matter of individual taste, where one’s morality is just a small piece of a carefully crafted individual self that one fashions at whim. “It’s personal,” many interviewees responded: “It’s up to the individual. Who am I to say? Who am I to judge?”
When beliefs, aesthetic preferences and moral proclivities are all left to personal style, we have the hipster mentality, where nonchalant nihilism is cool. Indeed, the word “moral” itself is a dirty word amongst anyone outside the realm of conservatism. But the cult of individualism transcends politics: we are all in the cult. We’ve all had its invisible lens pulled over our eyes such that we perceive the world through a warped and myopic tunnel vision. Aiming to find and remove this lens is as futile as trying to bite your own teeth – for it is built into us.
. . .
We were all inculcated into the cult of individualism – by our families, who tell us we are special; by the vision of the American Dream; by schools, who demand that we specify fields; by advertising which compels us to carve out who we are by consuming certain commodities; by capitalism which teaches us that to succeed is to win in a competition of yourself against all others; and by the ever-growing new-age and pop psychology œuvre which tells us to create our own realities…
But if everyone were to believe themselves as the center of their own universe in which they create their own world, values and all meaning – civilization would quickly deteriorate into solipsism, narcissism, megalomania and/or collective insanity. So it comes as no surprise that “we” are in decline – for what is really wrong with the united “us”? There is no “we,” no “us,” just me, myself and I. This nation is not a unified whole but a cacophony of atoms, each spinning alone to their own idiosyncratic rhythm – and frequently colliding. The Declaration’s axioms are relinquishing their sacred aura, for the glue that holds us together is… well, it isn’t there.
The marriage of this egoism to rationality – the hubris that comes with our self-awarded status as the sole “rational animal” – this may be the fatal flaw of Western civilization, we just don’t know it yet… or do we?
. . .
Our concept of the individual self was born in the context of the 18th Century, at least, and it is reaching the end of its course. What is the new paradigm of human nature that is emerging in response to the world as it is in 2012 and 2013? Should we continue to carry the curse of unchecked individualism, it will be our undoing.