We are so naive. Have we yet had the courage to step back and just see how our country looks to wiser eyes? Do we see our national projections? No, and that is why we are naive. Consider this recent conflagration concerning gun control and the NRA. There are many things going on here, but I have to draw a parallel to 9/11.
We as a country have not reconciled ourselves with our own violent nature. In broad strokes, we have two sides to us. A side that is more than willing to be violent and in fact has often been caught being far more violent than necessary (Korea, Vietnam, South America [not to mention slavery, the civil war, Mexico, and our Native American debacle, the Drug War, and many others]). And we have another side that abhors violence and resents the backlash of our violent lurching.
You would then think that these two sides would be phobic of one another, but in fact they often work together. The side that abhors violence, in America, doesn’t believe in non-violence. They are not Gandhi’s and King’s. They don’t oppose defense spending. They believe in quarantined violence. And quarantining violence, when you get down to it, is overwhelming violence with violence.
The reality is, however, the gun control people want to do just that, “control the guns”. What bothers gun rights people isn’t that no one would have AR style rifles, it’s that only some people would. And in my opinion, in full consideration of history, not only American, but Human, that is a VERY REASONABLE ARGUMENT. Reason doesn’t only take place in a vacuum with “democratic ideals” divorced from the psychological, social and institutional history in which the individual is embedded within (isn’t that Capitalism’s common indictment of Communism?). Reason is a conjunction of ALL salient facts. Of course, ALL salient facts is a rather tall order. And too, only some people have tomahawk missiles, and nobody’s debating being allowed to have one of those mounted to the top of their Humvee.
In essence, I see it as a confrontation of two tendencies: one side wants to eliminate violence through state sanctioned violence; the other side is afraid of state sanctioned violence. It don’t get much simpler than that (because in fact most individuals probably lean to both sides in this or that scenario). I can complicate it by adding that often those afraid of state sanctioned violence help to nourish or directly create the conditions which blossom into the violence that prompts the state to develop overwhelming violence. Yoda, you wise green creature:
Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.
And if that is the essential confrontation, then the solution will have to address it directly. But one thing I’m sure about is that our country is not ready for that debate. Our people are too immature (Europe’s people are too immature for that debate, for other reasons, same with China [not that I am qualified to say much about China other than that I know of a place named “China”]). Our founders may have been able to address the evolution of the state’s war making machinery in relation to assurances about civil rights, but people of today don’t seem prepared for that kind of long haul through an open dialogue in the intellectual wilds.
If I can skip a few debates, I’ll get to what I think of as the essence:
Moderator: “Gun Rights Activist (GRA) are you ready to trust the government of the united states of america, its constitution, and the collective institutions in place for preventing the application of inappropriate violence to your person and your property? Are you willing to demonstrate this trust by giving up your murderous arms?”
GRA: “In light of recent history and its continuity with all of human history and my reflections concerning the maturity of the human spirit in our day and age, no.”
Gun Control Activitist (GCA): “But GRA, don’t you see that you are anchoring the human spirit in this state of immaturity? That a succession of several generations grown up in an environment that does not emphasize or condone violence will bring about in mankind a blossoming of spirit across the entire spectrum of social classes.”
GRA: “The danger is too great for an individual to give up guarding the nest in which the treasure of the freedom of the spirit of man lies. Two generations is enough to let the flame go out.”
GCA: “But in order for the social organism that is Mankind to fully form, it’s immune system must quit attacking itself!”
GRA: “That should not be achieved by destroying the immune system. The immune system must be strengthened and made more intelligent.”
I know you capable of all evil — therefore from you I want the good.
Indeed, I often laughed at the weaklings who believe themselves good because their paws are lame!
~Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, On the Sublime Ones, Adrian Del Caro Translation