Walking the dogs today I saw the two flags in the header. The crisp clean one at half mast, and the tattered one hanging by the door of a house with notices on the doors and windows indicating that it will soon be torn down. Blown by the breeze in a synchronized dance.
The flag is not a thing you should worship. It is a symbol. Hopefully a symbol worthy of respect for what it stands for. The symbolism that I see is e pluribus unum (from many one) in the field of 50 stars, and the 13 stripes standing for history. We do not have a perfect history, and much more work is needed, but a history of progress based on two principles: the idea that all humans are created equal and the rule of law applies to us all. There have been many fits and starts in that forward motion, and, to my thinking, we seem to be moving backwards right now. But I believe that we can reverse that. Just as McCarthyism was eventually shown to be malarkey.
For the past week, since learning about the mass shootings, I’ve been sick in my heart. I’ve read various theories and thoughts about our nation’s epidemic of mass shootings. Normally I don’t have anything to add to the conversation, but this time I think I do.
The usual suspects
No question, we need stricter gun laws. The need for guns is not what it once was: we no longer need to hunt for food and very few need to protect their families against threats from bears, wolves, etc. There are no legal activities that you can do with assault rifles. Anyone who wants one is at least somewhat sociopathic and should be watched.
Yes, we need to take better care of the mentally ill. But perpetrators of many of the shootings would not have raised a red flag.
I’m not crazy about the violence of video games. I believe they sanitize violence and make it seem like a fantasy. You can say that about an awful lot of television and movies as well, although they are less of a training type of activity.
My first bit of insight, from a drive in the country
Speaking of training activities:
My family hunted. Yes we had guns, and we learned to use them. We were told to NEVER point a gun at a person. When I was a kid my dad wouldn’t let us even point an imaginary finger gun at another person (I think a childhood friend of his was killed in some type of accident related to gun play, but he never talked about it). By the way, we also ate what was killed. It wasn’t just a sport.
Imagine my shock when we were driving out in the country a couple of years ago and a family (with two grade school age kids) were out shooting at people shaped targets. This is what passes for wholesome family fun???
When did that get to be okay? That was a trick question: it isn’t okay now, just as it wasn’t okay back then.
The real question is : How come people don’t know this?
Paying mind to the values portrayed in video games, and TV and movies may be part of the answer. Not sufficient on its own, but still part of the answer.
My second bit of insight, from Facebook
I rarely go on Facebook anymore, for a variety of reasons. I don’t feel passionately about it, one way or another. But it has its uses, and one is that it is easy to communicate and share with certain people. My dad and I took a nice day trip to the water front in Seattle and I wanted him to have access to some of the photos I took, so I posted them on Facebook. That has the benefit that his friends and family also could see them.
It had been a long while, so I ran my eye over some of the feed to see what folks were up to. For the first time ever I unfriended someone. I can’t go back on and find the exact post they had shared to show it to you, but it went something like this: You’d better support (the current incumbent of the White House) because with a single tweet he can mobilize a bunch of people with guns (numbers were listed but I don’t recall exactly what they were).
When I heard about the shooting in Gilroy, I thought about that post. When I heard about the shooting in El Paso, I thought about that post. When I heard about the shooting in Dayton, I thought about that post.
I wonder how many of the perpetrators of the recent attacks saw that post?
You can blame trolls for many things, and that post was likely written by one. But it didn’t need to be shared…by anyone… ever.
We all get scared, frustrated and angry. But, while self-control and restraint may still be viewed as virtues by some, if you crave attention (which seems to be how people are measured in our society today) then in-your-face acting out is the way to go.
Patriotism is a word that means different things to different people.
We have come to a point where a bunch of folks seem to think that the right to speak freely means that they should use that right to promote hatred of various groups (Jews, Hispanics…). The right to bear arms seems to mean to them that they can go and shoot their neighbors buying groceries, on a night out, or worshiping in a synagogue.
Maybe we need something new and different: Matriotism? the idea that we need to take care of each other and stand up for what is right. It can be as simple as being very careful what you encourage on social media. Think about it before you “like” and “share”. Trolls invented the “anti-fa” movement to try and drum up conflict. Don’t let them have the win.
Yes, we need more restrictive gun laws. We need to find a way to take care of the mentally ill. We should try to find ways to entertain that do not romanticize violence or make it seem like a game. But we also need something else.
To view all people as people, and you don’t point guns at people, ever.