I’ve owned one gun in my life. I bought it after my wife passed away. I bought it from a self-proclaimed friend of mine who really should have known better. I bought it with the intention of killing myself.
Before I go too deep into this, I just want to affirm that I’m not some extreme bleeding-heart idealist with no real world experience, I’m just a dude. Just a dude trying to do my best, trying to navigate my way through life in modern America. Just a dude with many views on many subjects, but none of those views define who I am. Rather, who I am informs and influences how I view the world. I just want to be happy, ultimately. To me happy means two things: my children having all of their needs met, some of their wants addressed, and them having the knowledge and skills necessary to carry on and do the same for their own children someday; and my own knowledge that I have done my personal best everyday.
Anyway, I’ll get in to my own convoluted past and sometimes disparate views later, right now I’ve got to get these thoughts off my chest.
Guns can be fun.I don’t own any and have never felt the need to keep them in my house, but there is nothing wrong with people who do. I used to spend hours cleaning my rifle, practicing breathing and sight picture, and pretending I was John Wayne. I like the smell of CLP and mineral spirits. I like shooting targets, its exhilarating and can be a good bonding experience between friends or family. I like hunting, though I think bow-hunting is way better than hunting with a fine-tuned, nearly idiot-proof machine that requires minimal training for a person to become proficient in the operation of. Certain gun owners scare me though.
The type of gun owner that thinks they are constantly in danger. The type of gun owner who claims they are always in a state of heightened awareness. The type of gun owner that says height with a “TH” on the end. The type of gun owner who spends inordinate amounts of time fantasizing about “Active Shooter” situations and about “When THEY come.” The type of gun owner who removes their self from the real world and plugs in to an inflated narrative of fear and danger. The type of gun owner who really believes it is only for defense and doesn’t recognize the pathology. Those gun owners terrify me.
I have legitimately been in situations where I had to have that heightened state of awareness for extended periods of time. It is exhausting. It is not normal. It is not possible to live that way and peacefully co-exist with society at large. I appreciate caution, I am always aware of my surroundings – blame it on my rough childhood or blame it on the military training or blame it on my spectrum-tastic way of thinking, doesn’t matter. There is a difference between diligent awareness and outright paranoia though. We have evolved beyond the days when everyone was out for themselves alone. The society that values family and love and joy and recreation, and the society that values violence and fear are mutually exclusive. We, collectively, claim to value these good things, but all we ever talk about and all we ever spend tax dollars on and all our leaders soapbox about is these bad things. Are we counter-intuitive or just dishonest with ourselves?
I agree that the world is a scary place. I’ve seen a lot of things that I don’t like to think about, a lot of things that people should never go through or do to each other, a lot of things that are horrible and vile and absolutely disgusting in real life, then people turn around and make million dollar movies about them. The world is scary because a lot of people do scary things to one another, and a lot of other people do nothing to help each other out.
I recently had a loved one take her own life. She spent the last few months of her life terrified. When I think about it, a couple weeks after the fact, I can see it clear as can be, and honestly it turns my stomach. She retreated from the world, she rarely left her house and when she did so she was hyper-alert, to the point of impaired social function. She was convinced that people were watching her house and waiting for the right time to strike, she was convinced that “THEY” were going to come any day now and take away her ridiculous number of weapons. She spent the vast majority of her time online, watching scary conspiracy “alternative” videos and reading sensational headlines.
Don’t get me wrong, I love YouTube. I’ve got a Vice documentary on in the background right now. I use it to listen to podcasts and watch the movies I buy on the Play store. I listen to music on it all the time. I also understand that I need to spend time away from YouTube, that if all I do all day long is just sit and watch videos of people talking about things that I agree with, eventually I’ll lose touch with reality and be unable to distinguish fact from fiction.
I realize that I have started to ramble, so in the interest of successfully posting something this week I’ll cut this short.
I agree that the world is dangerous. It scares me that a large number of people are so easily seduced by the allure of firearms. It disturbs me that so many people become sedentary and fall into traps that we set for ourselves by magnifying and sensationalizing our fears, to the point of being unable to continue living in some cases. It makes me angry that people get so defensive and are unwilling to see that we should treat the cause of these issues, rather than react to the symptoms.
People don’t, for the most part, do bad things for their own sake, they do them because they have no options, or feel like they have no options. I have seen it throughout my entire life. Our society is sick, our system is broken. Yes, we all face some risks everyday, more risk than we should have to face, but instead of pulling back and circling the wagons and being afraid of one another, we really need to come together and CARE about each other. That’s what is wrong today. That is what is keeping us from being happy, we are unable to care about things that are actually important. We are unable to invest the proper amount of time into what actually matters. We are all afraid and malcontent, and we are all forced to trade in the majority of our time in order to just scrape by.
We need to care more. Make a conscious effort everyday to do something good for somebody important to you. Catch yourself in the moment and instead of saying something mean or simply ignoring that person, think about the situation and address it how you would if there were no constraints and you were free to spend unbounded love on your loved ones. Stop being afraid. Stop falling for the BS. Give in to love and joy and fight back against fear and anger.
Geez, I really intended to write something meaningful, and here I am with something almost cogent. Thank you for taking the time and effort to get to the end of this one. Next week I’ll do better.