The Plagued Parent

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The Crossfire of Vanity

imagesThe current gun control discussion is like a whirlpool made of quicksand — we are trapped, immobilized and being drawn closer and closer to a darkened vortex of an uncertain swirling center that threatens to swallow us whole. I feel this each time I read or see reports of some type of mass casualty shooting or an act of violence that takes place at a school or “safe zone”.

A week following the shooting at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon an altercation at another college in Arizona resulted in a gun being drawn and individuals being shot. I work at a community college and both incidents left many faculty and staff I spoke with concerned for their safety. Some joked, some grew pensive when thinking about disgruntled students they’d recently encountered, and just about all had security questions wondering  why it was we voted last year not to arm our campus police.

When events such as these occur we often default to the same stale arguments either for or against. We should be mindful when discussing guns, gun violence and the recent spate of mass shootings. This is a complex topic with multiple moving parts. To fully and coherently examine the inter-relationship between all of the factors that intersect with respect to these numerous incidents — guns, violence, media, mental health — we need to foster productive dialogues rather than propping up stale rhetoric.

The solution may not be more restrictions and fewer guns, or more guns and fewer restrictions, or addressing the role of mental illness, or discouraging media coverage that sensationalizes these violent tragedies.

I don’t know what the solution might be. What I do know is that since the Columbine shooting we have done little as a society aside from sit horrified and dumbstruck each time these things occur. In fact, we consistently return to the Columbine shooting as a point of reference whenever we have a mass casualty shooting in a “safe zone” and the discussion revolves without evolving.

Unless our public discourse makes a sharper turn towards civility and away from venom laced posturing we will never begin to come minutely close to any recognizable apprehension of the issue. And without apprehending the complexity of the circumstances which breed these incidents of gun violence we can never fully address their actual causes. It’s like prescribing an inappropriate treatment for an illness — sure the anti-biotic will lessen our symptoms, but without appropriately treating the underlying disease we will never be “cured”.

America must grapple with our  legacy of violence, a violence we’ve embraced since the beginning of our establishment. We must also acknowledge that our tendency to fetishize the gun reveals our insecurities revolving around power, authority and property — someone might take our stuff, threaten our lives, or curtail our liberty. This insecurity, in my opinion, is the psychological result of a nation built through the mechanisms of genocide, enslavement and pillaging — we took the lives, liberty and property of others as we built this place and that has left a deep and searing mark. As a people, we are loath to acknowledge these darker historical aspects and as such we default instead to a unrealistic and patriotically fueled identity rooted in American mythology. Myths, at their heart, are nothing more than self-indulgent reflections of cultural vanity.

I believe that these insecurities have rendered us culturally incapable of addressing the complex web of issues which lead to some of these mass shooting incidents. For us to continually bluster and posture can’t possibly work out for us in the long run.

We must collectively decide that too many children, young adults and adults have lost their lives needlessly.

We must decide that this is unacceptable in any form.

We must take a roll call of the dead as a result of gun violence — all of them, everywhere — and honor them.

Otherwise we are expressing nothing more than our own cultural vanity. By doing nothing we are demonstrating what matters most to us– some blurred, nostalgic cultural self-image.

How we see ourselves may not truly express who we are as a people. It’s time for us to re-consider that because I for one am tired of this pattern. We are beginning to sound like a scratched and broken record skipping during the chorus of our favorite song. And that gets real old, real fast.

We can do better. We have to do better.EndGunViolence

Updated: October 21, 2015 — 6:19 am

27 Comments

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    1. plaguedparent@gmail.com

      Thanks Gretchen. If only my linguistic brilliance can ooze into the other areas of my life… Thanks again…

  1. I’m with Gretchen. This is brilliantly written and I am 100% with you on this. Behind all the posturing and cultural vanity, there’s a heart that has the solution to this crazy mess. Now, if we can only start seeing each other as people… that might help us get there.
    Thank you, with all my heart, for writing this post.

    1. plaguedparent@gmail.com

      You are welcome Laurie. Appreciate the opportunity to contribute as well as your taking the time to comment.

  2. “America must grapple with our legacy of violence, a violence we’ve embraced since the beginning of our establishment. We must also acknowledge that our tendency to fetishize the gun reveals our insecurities revolving around power, authority and property”

    That seems SO spot on. But I think the whole of humankind needs to address this, not just Murica.

    1. plaguedparent@gmail.com

      I agree, this is a species wide problem and not just a nationalistic one.

  3. As a newer democracy than America, we Indians tend to look to America for the way things should be. But the total hold that the NRA has over people, and how the notion of freedom at all costs, is confusing to say the least.

  4. So well articulated.
    As a newer democracy than America, we Indians tend to look to America for the way things should be. But the total hold that the NRA has over people, and how the notion of freedom at all costs, is confusing to say the least.

    1. plaguedparent@gmail.com

      Thanks Corrine. We aren’t bad at this democracy thing but we still have a ways to go…

  5. Wow. This so well written. Thank you for so eloquently stating a rational observation. So many of us want to do something and we just don’t know how to find that sweet spot of justice, balance and preservation. So much work to be done on such a polarizing issue.

    1. plaguedparent@gmail.com

      Thank you Bryce, for taking the time to read and comment.

  6. It is amazing to me that we seem to forget each time and then, when another happens, the same broken records play. Ridiculous!

    1. plaguedparent@gmail.com

      Yes Carol it is ridiculous and frustrating to watch it as a citizen and not think everything is going to crap at the hands of lobbyists and special interests. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  7. I hate to say it, just from one Canadian’s perspective, but it really does begin and end with a culture of violence. As you say though, at the heart of it, there are good people who only want security and safety. Glad we could come together here to talk about these things.

    1. plaguedparent@gmail.com

      I know Kerry. When are we gonna wake up down here. You guys up north actually have more guns per capita and far less violence. He congrats on your new Prime Minister.

  8. We so have to do better. You did a great job with this.

    1. plaguedparent@gmail.com

      Thanks Kristi. Appreciate the support.

  9. AMEN. It’s time… It’s been time for too long actually.

    “We must collectively decide that too many children, young adults and adults have lost their lives needlessly.

    We must decide that this is unacceptable in any form.

    We must take a roll call of the dead as a result of gun violence — all of them, everywhere — and honor them.” <—- YES!

    1. plaguedparent@gmail.com

      Glad you liked the post Chris. Thanks so much for adding to the thread. You views are appreciated.

  10. Unfortunately, too much money is rolled into keeping things the way they are. After the Newtown massacre of first graders, CT and NY both enacted laws against semi-automatic weapons and large capacity magazines. The Federal courts just this month upheld those laws, but next up, the gun groups are pushing it to the Supreme Court. I’m not one who says guns need to go away (because that will never happen in this country,) but why aren’t we treating guns as seriously as we do cars? You have to take driving lessons, meet a minimum number of driving hours with an adult, take a driving test and get licensed and insured to drive a car. You also get your license revoked if you drive drunk, drive recklessly, get into accidents, etc. Where is this kind of care and concern around guns? Death by guns (whether mass murders, street crimes or accidental) has gone up each year, while death from car accidents has gone down. This year, gun deaths look to surpass car deaths….when will we do more about this?

    1. plaguedparent@gmail.com

      Thanks Jennifer. I saw that regarding the Supreme Court case. What a crock! I agree make it as serious as a driver licensing and force people to take insurance too. Maybe this could shift a few things. Enough is enough.

  11. I’m just wordless that we have huge debates over women’s health issues but nothing is done to try to stop this from happening.

    1. plaguedparent@gmail.com

      Thanks Liv. Yes, this is an astounding situation. Sometimes my mouth just hangs open and I get that headache in my eye as if I’m about to have a seizure.

  12. I agree with Gretchen brilliant! It’s time we start asking the presidential candidates some tough questions!

    1. plaguedparent@gmail.com

      Thanks Rena.

  13. The most important commonality in all these horrific events is how many are “gun free zones.” Persons given to criminal activity, by definition of “criminal,” ignore laws. What makes anyone think a person intent on inflicting harm on others will stop at the door of a school and say, “Oh, I’m not supposed to go in there…”? I work at a community college, too. I am also a veteran, trained in the use of firearms. I am not, however, a police officer, trained in the tactics necessary to clear a building or pursue a suspect in that environment. I would, however, carry a firearm if it were allowed.

    1. plaguedparent@gmail.com

      Thanks Brian some valid points very worthy of consideration. This is without doubt a complex issue and we can’t lose sight of the complexity otherwise our “solutions” will be simplistic and most likely fail to address any “problem” we face.

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