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Our American Fear

There is a minority contingent of Americans who want the ability to own a plethora of weapons, the kind configured to destroy as many humans as possible in the shortest amount of time. They believe owning them is the ultimate act of strength and freedom. Their lives are designed around the idea that as long as they own these devices they are perfectly protected against any and all threats to their personal sovereignty. Their homes, their family, their ability to drive to the store and buy another weapon, is made secure by their possession of said weapons and the unproven confidence that they can use that weapon with perfect accuracy when the moment arrives. Some even picture themselves the savior of others should they witness nearby acts of horrific violence from another member of that same contingent.

We, the non-weaponized majority, are expected to adjust our lives to it, even give our lives up, if necessary, when one of that contingent uses those weapons for their only purpose. “The Tree of Liberty”, the “blood of patriots and tyrants”, and all that glorious nonsense written in a time when it took over a minute to load a rifle with a single lead ball. Except the blood being spilled today, on a daily basis in our homes, in our schools, in our public spaces, is not coming from tyrants. It’s coming from the people who present no threat to our country, nor to that fearful, paranoid, heavily-armed contingent.

I don’t need to post statistics, data points, or trends here; that’s available online and nearly everyone knows of it through the social media slap fights that always happen after each domestic slaughter. No matter what the data reveals, the people who could truly make positive changes in our nation, that minority contingent of weaponized Americans who deliberately misread the Second Amendment, will not budge. No amount of death will sway them because their fear of what could possibly happen to them overrides their sorrow over what is actually happening to others.

What this contingent is missing is the key component of our humanity that will do the most to reduce and potentially end future acts of violence. But using that component requires introspection, and that’s a tough ask for someone whose entire persona is predicated upon being heavily armed and daring someone to change that. This weaponized contingent, bolstered by a political party that blocks any and all efforts at enacting a solution because they are afraid of losing that sweet cash donation, continues to hold the majority of us hostage with their willful dismissal of their part in perpetuating those daily events of violence. Their American brand of smug obstinacy through minority rule is allowing these events to continue at a pace that has the rest of the world shaking their heads.

When I drop my son off at school I watch him walk alone, with his backpack and worn out shoes, up to the front door. Once there he has to press a button and identify himself in order to be let into the school. Some people, too many people, see that as enough. Some people think having a constant police presence is enough. Some people think adding more guns to our already gun-soaked existence is enough. Some completely avoid the issue by demanding the return of compulsory religion in the classroom. None of those ideas are solutions because they do not directly address the problem. They are little more than a capitulation to that weaponized contingent, and to that maliciously intransigent political party and the lobby that pays them to be that way. The notion that we can have a country where these measures are unnecessary never gets considered even though there are generations of us, the heavily-armed included, who grew up at a time in our country where those measures were unnecessary.

All of the actions that ever get put in place to address this type of public violence are based on the notion that ownership of a multitude of assault weapons is part of a larger, unquestionable right that must reign over all other considerations. We must be free to build our arsenal, take it out in public, and be ready to use it to protect ourselves against the people who would build an arsenal, take it out in public, and use it. To pay the ongoing cost of this frightened contingent’s need to feel tough in the face of imagined threats means our kids must press a button to get into a school building, walk through a metal detector and past armed guards, participate in active shooter drills, and still die.

There is a pervasive fear too many people have in our country that not owning a gun means you will be robbed and/or murdered at home, or in a grocery store or other public space. They are incapable of picturing a life where they don’t need a gun; they can’t figure out how to be ok with not having the capacity to quickly kill someone if threatened or the mood strikes them. This fear exists in them despite our ability to see people living happily in all of the rest of the developed countries on our planet; places where these horrors don’t happen daily and guns are extremely rare.

It’s all fear: fear of losing possession of a dangerous and outsized means of self-protection against imagined threats, fear of losing political clout, fear of losing your life due to random, sociopathic violence. The weaponized contingent and their political enablers fear the first two. The majority of Americans, including our children, fear the last one and that’s the one which gets the least consideration because it requires the most change. The people who are in control right now, a minority in our government thanks to a poorly designed system, want to keep things as they are. We can lose the lives but we can’t lose the guns, even though owning those guns is costing us the lives.

It is enough that I have to worry about my kids staying safe as they cross the street, play alone at the park, get terrorized by bullies on the playground, climb trees, avoid contracting COVID, learn to drive, and go out on dates. As an American, I and my family have to face the reality that someone from that weaponized contingent in my own country could end my kids’ lives today, along with the lives of their classmates using a tool that should only be available to soldiers at a military base. In my lifetime it has become a sad and pathetic feature of American existence, perpetrated and encouraged by sad and pathetic Americans in positions of power; politicians who are too weak to do anything to help us, indifferent to the pain.

We are the adults. The kids are looking to us for protection and we are failing them. The social and political theater of the American tough guy, armed against imaginary threats and backed by well-financed politicians, is killing us. It’s killing our kids, it’s killing our families, and it’s killing our ability to make changes to our country that would save us from another horrific slaughter of innocents.

June 3, 2022 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

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