Saturday, January 26, 2013

The society of fear

Recently a gun show customer, interviewed by the media, reported his attendance at the show out of solidarity for the Second Amendment to the Constitution. That amendment, he stated, is the centerpiece of the Constitution and without that amendment we wouldn’t have any of the other amendments. It enables us to live out the other amendments.

His conviction was so heartfelt that I immediately ran to locate my copy of the U.S. Constitution to find out just what is in the other amendments. Once I did, I remembered that these amendments are not per see part of the Constitution. These amendments constitute the Bill of Rights. Or rather the first ten of them do. The first amendment protects the free exercise of religion. I wondered, if the second amendment is so important, why does the first one deal with religion? The second is actually a little fuzzy. The actual text reads, “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” That is usually interpreted to mean I personally can keep a gun. It also means I might have to be ready to join the Army.

There are incredibly strong feelings present in many Americans on this issue. But to tell you the truth, gun control doesn’t really concern me. Human control is a greater worry and it seems harder to manage. Yes, ‘guns don’t kill, people do’. But guns need people to pull the trigger. What really worries me though is fear. We live in a society in which, from birth, we are taught to fear everything around us. Hence the need for guns or any weapon that will supposedly protect us.

I would quote Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s famous line that we have nothing to fear but fear itself but I’m not sure many ‘Amurricans’ even know who Franklin Delano Roosevelt was and I’m not sure they would understand why he said it nor why it is meaningful today. Fear is a disease and it eats away at our good judgment and sense. It undermines whatever joy and consolation may exist in our lives. And judging from attitudes in our society, there isn’t much joy or consolation present.

Since the Newtown shootings, there have been more shootings around schools that have made the national news. It is ironic that during an explosion of gun shows in recent weeks that a number of individuals were accidentally injured when guns were misused by them. Isn’t it apparent that the object of owning a gun nowadays is so that we can complete for ourselves the logical end of fear? We must wipe out our neighbors before they wipe us out.

Fear means that no one can be trusted. And if we do not trust our neighbors, what else can we do than pull up our drawbridges, boil the oil, prepare the battlements, and wait for the onslaught? In 2009 the U.S. death rate by firearms was 10.2 people per 100,000. Among developed countries, that’s the highest in the world. The next closest was Finland which in 2008 had 4.47 deaths per 100,000 people from firearms. All that is left is for us to turn on ourselves.

As Pogo said, we have met the enemy and he is us.



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