Recently I’ve been hearing a lot of talk about an impending police state or martial law, about “the socialists” and what they’ve got planned, and so on. And it made me think of something.
You know those toy cards, the ones where you can look at it one way and see something, like Spider-man doing a kick, and then turn it slightly and look at it the other way and he’s in a different pose? That’s what all this stuff about gun control made me think of.
The gun control issue has deep roots in the age-long battle between the so-called right and left. And since it involves the Constitution, many people dig their heels in deep. There’s no real good argument as to why assault rifles are necessary, or even guns are necessary – a hand gun in the home is 12 times more likely to kill a friend or family member than an intruder. And there’s no real good reason to make it a “the government can’t tell me what to do” issue, because nobody really balks at there being a speed limit, or that heroin is illegal, or that you can’t marry more than one person legally. These we feel are reasonable restrictions on our lives. But when it comes to guns, it becomes a power struggle. It’s a chance to start talking about the evil empire trying to overtake and enslave us.
But I turn the card, just ever so slightly, and that’s what I already see. I see socialism in the elite hegemony which controls the government through the banking industry. I see a herd of automatons going to Wal-Mart, a country homogenized by Ford dealerships, strip malls and McDonalds. I don’t see this mythical system of free-thinking people working the free-enterprise system for the benefit of all. I see wage slaves throwing their crumbs into the mouth of the ever-inflating deficit beast.
The thing is, once you really start to think through an issue, the partisanship disappears. An ultimate corporatocracy of bankers and private industry juggernauts are the results of capitalism run amok, and yet their existence resembles fascism, an oligarchy, or even a polygarchy. Our economic system produces more traits in common with communism – the vast and growing global middle class acting as wage-slaves for the deficit looks like something from out of I, Robot, or what Ayn Rand was railing against in Anthem.
We all want to preserve the independent spirit of mankind, and maintain our freedoms. But, for most of us, our use of freedom, whether we know it or not, is little more than an attempt to be comfortable and buy what we want, go where we want, and be left alone.
Real freedom, freedom from commercialism, from advertising, from debt, from the banks, from essentially economic enslavement, that’s different. That requires a whole new paradigm to examine and to dismantle. And I think people feel this – everyone feels something is pulling at them, and we react in this polarized fashion, with the pro-gun people gloming together over here, and the no-gun people globbing up over there. We’re all feeling the same thing, but for whatever reason these people over here turn the 3D card just so and say it’s Obama and the “socialists” and the other group says it’s Republican rednecks and big business to blame.
It’s not either side. It’s not about sides. We are not a capitalist society or a socialist society. They crisscross and interweave. Both “sides” have lost sight of essential truths, or wisdom, and instead more and more radicalism is growing so that people can feel heard in the din. And in the midst of it, we lose logic and common sense.
Missing from the debate over gun control is whether or not the average person even really has a sense of what it is to own a gun and use it on another human being. Lost in the argument is the simple and obvious truth that the majority of us have no real idea and are not emotionally or physically prepared to handle such a scenario. Probably only the men and women who have been in the military understand the gravity of it. And then you have Prince Harry, who was recently reported as comparing flying an Apache helicopter and firing on live targets with playing his Xbox back home. You have a kid in New Mexico who just shot up his entire family (using a .22) who was said to spend an exorbitant amount of time playing Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto.
We have these video games and these movies where we have become completely desensitized to what it actually means to shoot someone. And the reality of shooting someone or getting involved in a shooting is far different than we may imagine. (The one person in recent history who tried to stave off a mass murderer by returning fire was shot five times.)
I’m not saying we don’t defend ourselves. I have a family and will do anything to protect them. But I don’t own a gun. Who would I be shooting? Some storm trooper who comes to my house to take my family away from me and send them off to internment camps? I’d probably end up shooting someone by mistake. In a world of guns, I’m more worried about my trigger-happy neighbor mistaking me for an intruder while I’m out having a smoke one night then some government police coming to my house to take me away.
But these G-Men – they DO sometimes come, don’t they? Don’t men in Bowler hats or Fedoras wearing trenchcoats sometimes come and take people away?
They do. But guess what. They work for Monsanto. Or Halliburton. And they come because you threaten their profit margin. You’re trying to do something on your own, be who you are, and they don’t like it.
Doesn’t that sound like the Gestapo? It does to me. It sounds like a powerful, private corporation. It sounds like the government. Thing is, they are virtually one in the same. So it’s not a matter of a bloviated government fixating on reducing civil liberties just for kicks. And it’s not about big business just being the bad guy because they have a gimmick that won the game for them and made them rich. It’s the two in collusion. It’s when the government is completely controlled by the corporations who are controlled by money. That’s the nightmare scenario.
That’s what’s happening. All of this strident debate over gun control is gas on the fire. It’s making the people prone to keeping guns and worrying about the impending martial law even more paranoid. And it’s making the people who don’t have guns tend to be more concerned than ever, worrying that these shootings and murders are only going to get worse.
Let’s stop worrying each other so much about guns, and start coming together about the things we can work on.
I recently sat down in my son’s room with a book called “How Things Work.” It was a fascinating read, about how electricity works, magnetism, car engines, generators, and all sorts of stuff. He and I started talking about the flow of electrons through conductors and how batteries work with zinc on one side and copper on the other. My baby daughter played around us as we talked, babbling and grabbing at things. These two people are the future.
I want them to grow up in a world where what we’re talking about is becoming energy independent and sustainable so we don’t have bloated companies fabricating scarcity and product obsolescence in order to get us to keep buying, keep buying. Our discourse should be about shifting our personal focuses towards resource conservation and away from the acquiring of money and power.
Once again, the issue of the day is symptomatic of a more systemic, underlying disease. Let there be no mistake – the NRA takes in a ton of money. It’s all about money. We’re easily fooled by the rhetoric about rights and the Constitution because we want to badly to have something to believe in, something that protects what is our misguided sense of freedom. We deserve to be free. We deserve to have rights. We deserve to form democratic groups and use our innovations to make life good, make life fun. But once again we are rallying around an issue that obscures the real problem. Our system is broken. We don’t answer that by either disarming everyone or stockpiling guns in our basement.
One final word: There’s a lot of religion-bashing going on lately, too. Yet the biggest belief-system in an invisible god that exists on our planet is the faith in the money-market scheme. Any human being alive who believes that the way our economy operates and the way we are exporting that system to nearly every other country on Earth is a participant in the hugest religion on the planet. The myths of capitalism, free enterprise – they’re all just beliefs. And today we live in a time where the man behind the curtain has been exposed, for those brave enough to look.
We don’t need to shoot that man in order to change.