And to quote a certain podcaster, this post "may prove to be a bit controversial".
I listened to the Sticks & String Podcast, Show 179, by David Reidy this morning. He is an "Australian bloke who knits" and Sticks and String is one of my favorite podcasts. Today's podcast contained an essay on a subject that has been much on my mind of late: the recent vicious shooting in Colorado at the "Dark Knight Rises" movie premier.
Mr. Reidy prefaced the podcast in Twitter as "may prove to be a bit controversial".
The dialog in my head on this shooting - and the other shootings that have occurred in the last two decades - is definitely controversial.
It was very interesting to hear a near "everyman" perspective of this shooting from another country.
And some of his comments paralleled some of the thoughts that had been circling in my mind.
I replied to his "Show is uploading" tweet with a Twitter version of "War and Peace" - a four part tweet series:
"(1of4) Well, that is the most well-considered/delivered "rant" I've ever heard. It echoes some of my sorrow & concerns. I was raised
(2of4) in a military, hunting & NRA-loyal family & I went thru a Firearms Safety course at a young age. Guns are not toys, not for
(3of4)power-tripping, &certainly not for murdering movie-goers,schoolchildren or guy who cut you off in traffic. Retaining our"Right
(3of4) to bear arms"loses it's Revolutionary merit when faced with such ignorance, insanity & abuse. Apologies for the mini-rant."
Obviously I struggled but overcame the "short" comment premise of Twitter.
I'm not sure why I felt it was important to reply to his tweet/podcast - and, honestly, the Australian bloke certainly didn't deserve the tweet barrage. Perhaps I'm attempting to verbalize the internal discussion I've been considering for years. And now it appears to be continuing as a blog-post.
The preceding tweets and the following blog-comments are not an answer to the fair questions posed by Mr. Reidy.
It is not even an answer to the questions doing laps in my brain.
So - what is this blog post? I don't know. We'll see.
In my opinion, Americans do seem to have a fascination with guns. Does this relate back to the Revolutionary beginnings of our still relatively young country?
Is it representative of our desire for independence? Is it sourced in a real desire to ensure that if we have to overthrow a corrupt government that we have the weaponry to do that?
Does it have to do with the cultural fascination with the "bad boy"/tough-guy/gang/"cool" image that seems to go with the television/movies/linguistical changes that seem to be gaining ground in the average American mentality?
I stalled here as my brain ranged over a variety of concerns/cultural effects...instant gratification and quick fixes, the road rage that supposedly stems from a lack of control in a person's life, the economy and poor financial practices that have left people world-wide without funds, homes or jobs as well as the fear and additional violence and thievery that these changes have inspired.
The focus on "reality" TV and the pursuit of some for their 15-minutes of fame or extreme wealth.
Then there's the memory of the policeman visiting my vandalism-damaged home years ago and his considered opinion that we are raising generations of sociopaths.
And I have to wonder if the physical distance of our social networks feeds that lack of humanity and consideration of the effects of a person's actions on fellow human beings.
Are people more crazy than decades past? Or do we just get to hear about it more because of our 24x7 media looking for more news to "sell"?
In our efforts to grow and be more accepting of people's foibles, are we overlooking obvious signs of insanity?
Are we becoming too desensitized to violence because of the constant bombardment in media?
Are the same percentage of people crazy but more easily dangerous because of the casual approach to serious weaponry available to the public?
In hindsight, people are asking Why.
Why wasn't there more security?
Why isn't there more gun control?
Why were these types of weapons available to these people?
Why is there so much violence in TV & movies & media?
Why didn't "anyone" notice this person was so obviously a danger to others?
I don't know WHY.
What kind of person plots to go to a movie theater to corner and shoot people? To shoot 6-year olds?
To shoot a congresswoman and other innocent souls at a grocery store?
To enter a school with plans to kill classmates or random children and teachers?
To blow up or fly planes into buildings with absolutely no regard for human life?
Sociopaths? Chemical imbalance? Evil?
And obviously people don't need guns to do profound damage.
And obviously people don't need guns to do profound damage.
Why? There are too many variables to provide a black and white, clear cut answer/solution.
I know that this type of lunatic shooting event does happen in other countries, but they seem to happen more often in my country. It shouldn't happen at all but that it seems to happen more in the United States of America, a "Superpower", the "Land of the Free" would indicate we could be doing some of our freedom a bit better. Where do we draw the line in preserving rights and preserving safety?
I wish I could discuss this with my Dad. He was a man of profound opinions, but he would pleasantly surprise me (I'm ashamed to say) with wisdom, kindness, and acceptance on topics about which I "expected" a certain type of reply. But he passed on decades ago.
So...where else to look for wisdom?
I'm afraid I have little faith in the media and for the most part, very little faith in our elected officials.
I believe many of our decisions are too self-oriented, short-sighted and are rarely truly made for the greater good. And if decisions are made to assist all (and not a particularly group of lobbyists) the selfish hue and cry from the American masses shames me.
I do think President Obama has a good head on his shoulders and comments are being made about reducing gun violence. I will ask some uncomfortable questions of my elected officials and watch the answers carefully. And I will continue to vote and do what I can in my very small corner of the world.
It doesn't seem like much, though.
So what is this blog post?
Just a rant? My worrying written down in a feeble attempt to purge some of the horror and fear collecting in my mind from these terrible attacks?
Acknowledgement that the "right to bear arms" perspective I was raised with simply cannot apply to every person or to every type of "arms".
Further acknowledgement that although there are many many amazing and good things about my country...but that there are improvements to be made and terrible things that must stop.
This is...many things. A blog. A debriefing. Questions - many questions. Wishes. Conscience. Grief. Even a little hope. But not much for answers.