As I stood on the bank of the wide, slowly flowing, Niobrara River in northern Nebraska, just outside the city of Valentine, I practically melted into the ground from the river’s mesmerizing effect as it surged downstream to merge with larger waters. Far from honking traffic and bus exhaust and an unbalanced society, I momentarily forgot about my own issues and felt aligned with all of the energy around me. A few gray clouds floated by in an otherwise bright blue sky – part of the cyclic movement of water with other water – and songbirds flitted amongst the trees along the river’s path.
The only thing missing from this scene were tepees or modest homes and peaceful people frolicking about like any other social creature, focused on living humbly on the earth in life-affirming activities, spiritually in tune with nature’s forces, instead of their gross domestic product and the fears that enveloped them.
The reality of our society, unfortunately, is crushingly depressing, and I am unable to write about balance today, so I guess what I’m about to say places me on the extreme end of the spectrum, far from a balanced approach to controlling guns, but I’ve listened to the other extreme, the gun enthusiasts and the sportsmen and their usual defense of firearms, and I can’t support them.
If the events in Connecticut don’t force us to ask what kind of society we want to live in, and take appropriate actions, then we are beyond hope. Do we want a society focused on happiness and balanced living for all, teaching the concept to the young from early on, or an individualistic fear-based society armed to the teeth in order to feel secure?
We’re all dangerous animals. We’re all capable of mayhem. But when we focus on happiness and balance our true nature shines through: the desire for peace, for love, for joy, which is why most of us get along just fine without stockpiles of weaponry. It’s only the severely unbalanced that commit mass murder. I would hope that a society focused on happiness and balance for all would be better at recognizing those that need preventative help.
So what do we do? Pray to the heavens? Frankly, if I believed in a religious god, I’d be inconsolable and beyond angry at his absence and abject apathy, but that would be me, and that would be a copout. That would be projecting my anger to other powers instead of the real cause: us. If you want to believe a god watches over everything we do and pray to help get you through the day, more power to you. For me, I try to keep an open mind, I just don’t believe any spiritual presence ever acts in mysterious ways. A plane falling out of the sky isn’t mysterious, nor is war or the massacre of children.
It is just us.
Gun enthusiasts will say that, because of our nature to kill, we need more guns to defend ourselves. And people actually buy into this nonsense, into this infantile, selfish, insecure, and irresponsible reasoning that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. And they do, they kill them in massive numbers when they get their hands on guns.
What kind of society do we want? Armed to the teeth because of human nature, or prevented from owning weapons because of human nature?
It’s a simple question. We have speed limits and an armed police force and laws against possessing bombs because of our selfishness – because of what we are – and we are constantly creating new laws to keep us protected, from drunk drivers to wearing seat belts or motorcycle helmets to how fast an elevator door can close. But we are not allowed to protect ourselves from guns except to counteract them with more guns.
Is that really the kind of society you want to raise your kids in?
Being brought up in a small town, I did my share of hunting and still have friends who love their rifles, and up until now I’ve supported their right to own them. Just control handguns and assault weapons, I used to agree, and apply tougher background checks and waiting periods and enforce the laws that exist. But I don’t support this anymore. I don’t care about responsible gun ownership any longer. Be a true hunter and use a bow and arrow, and get rid of your guns. Have them melted down and made into children’s playgrounds, because even legally obtained guns can fall into the wrong hands and here we go again. More mass murder. Sure, only criminals would have them then, up until they don’t. Make the penalty for possession stiff. And get rid of the damn things while focusing on developing a balanced, healthier, happier society. No doubt this is a naïve fantasy, some will say, as much as imagining that beautifully balanced society.
So maybe it is a fantasy, given our violent-obsessed culture, but the choice of what kind of society we want is ours. The status quo doesn’t work. There is no other solution than to get rid of them. Guns don’t belong in a civilized society, and fixing society will always be a work in progress. The imbalanced will forever be with us, continuously needing help, and will get their hands on weapons of mass destruction if they are around to be found. Establish places for hunting, I say, and businesses that lease guns (preferably limited to shotguns), for the day’s use, by those who have the proper license to carry them temporarily into the woods, and then return them to their heavily regulated proper place.
Why would a responsible adult object to such a system? If you want a safe society, that is what is necessary.
We should be embarrassed about the country we have created, and for giving into the NRA. To hell with them. Don’t embarrass yourself with arguments in favor of guns today, and don’t ever again tell me that America is number one in anything, unless you are talking about death.
These children deserved better. Those remaining still do.