Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Guns and Bombs

Is America United Yet?

             Explosive devices —guns and terrorist bombs—seized the headlines last week, which to astrologers was no surprise but to the rest of us cause for a wide range of emotions. Guns particularly seem to fire people up on both sides, for and against more controls. But I have a funny feeling the Boston Marathon bombs may end up having the most far-flung and potentially damaging effects upon what’s left of our democratic culture.
            First, the astrology, for it reveals all.
            The bombings happened the same week as the U.S. Senate jettisoned even the most tepid rules for managing gun sales. That week the Sun and Mars, both ruled by Fire, conjoined at exactly the same degree in the hot-blooded sign of Aries. That explosive conjunction is the climax of a month of planets crowding the sign of the impetuous warrior, of which Mars is the ruling planet. Among those planets, Venus moved into Taurus on April 15, cooling down tempestuous relationship issues, while Sun and Mars, having done their damage, joined her in Taurus on April 19 and 20 respectively.
            But Mercury, planet of mental formations, remains in Aries, while Uranus, planet of sudden shocks, will be there for several more years. So from the astrological point of view the fireworks are most likely to continue for some time to come.
           But why? What’s behind the emotionalism of the gun issue? What kind of mind would plot to blow up a bomb in a crowd?
            Begin with the understanding that America is now and always has been a violent nation. It’s part of the tradition passed onto us by our parents, our relatives, our society, and our history. In so many ways we’ve yet to catch up with the present. We’re no longer living on a resource-rich frontier where every man—and woman, too—packs a gun. Yet apparently today guns are one of the accessories of the American Dream. The more powerful the gun, the better chance of keeping what you have (or getting what you want).
            That’s discouraging to me. I support stronger gun control laws, not because they will necessarily prevent horrific events but because they define our national interest and intent to curb those events.
            So I wonder what the emotionalism is all about. It seems to go beyond Second Amendment rights. It’s more primal than any law.
            I remember my own fascination with guns when I was a kid in the 1940s and early ‘50s. My father didn’t own one and my mother was anti-gun, so, influenced by the old western movies on television then, I played with cap guns and practiced my fast draw in the mirror. Eventually, it seems, I outgrew that because guns didn’t touch me again until the early 1970s, when I found myself living in a commune with rural hippies who were also avid hunters.
            There I learned about rifles—twenty-twos for beginners, double-barrel shot guns for small game, and thirty-thirties for deer. That was the extent of the average country arsenal back in 1972. For my part I tried hunting a few times but never took to it. Never shot anything, either.
            But I tried to shoot a puppy once. She was having fits, like epilepsy, and my hunter brothers, rightly claiming more experience with country ways, convinced me she had to be shot. Since her mother was my dog, I felt the responsibility. It was during a blizzard. I took the shot gun outside to find the pup. She was nested under the porch. I crawled under on my belly and, not three feet from her, took aim and pulled the trigger.
            Somehow I missed. But that puppy screamed at me in shock and outrage such as I’ve never experienced in this world. And I realized I’d made a terrible mistake. I was no killer. Whatever made me think I could be?
            Someone else had to take over, and he efficiently dispatched the puppy. Later, we all realized, she probably didn’t need to be killed. It was a group freak-out.
            I don’t think I’ve fired a gun since. All I can think of when I think of guns is that little puppy, whose trust I had betrayed, screaming at me.
           Firearms are for self-defense, primarily. Target practice is to develop an aim good enough that you won’t miss. In fact, using a gun is a somewhat specialized skill. To be good with a gun is of high value.
            But, as gun-control people keep saying, guns are, first and foremost, for wounding, maiming, and killing other creatures, including human beings. I’ve seen no convincing pro-gun argument which can refute that point.
            It seems, then, that people don’t want to give up their guns because having them makes them feel safe, or at least safer, than not having them. Guns are assurance against enemies, known and unknown.
            Will I one day wish I had a gun? Or regret that I didn’t? I can’t be sure. I have the capacity for violence in me, but I don’t want to cultivate it. Owning a gun would put an instrument of death in my hands. It would change my relationship with the world around me.
            Personally, I wish there were no guns on Earth. But I live in a democracy in which individuals are guaranteed the right to keep and bear arms. It’s like death and taxes. Fair enough.
            But must I abandon my soul’s vision of a prosperous world some day at peace? I can’t see that. What I can see is that withdrawal from the American addiction to guns can’t be legislated. It must be voluntary or peace will never come. There will always be war.
             Meanwhile, the terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon, widely and appropriately lamented, seems an unrelated event, as if the Senate’s refusal to deal with gun violence has nothing to do with it. But to me they are both on the same side of things. Demanding the absolute right for private citizens to bear arms, including military-style weapons, shelters the same intent to kill as the terrorists who set off those Boston bombs. They just have different targets.
            As I write this, the story coming from Boston is that both brothers sought revenge for American deeds and misdeeds in the Muslim countries of Iraq and Afghanistan. There are a large number of people, at home and abroad and including myself, who think America broke its own rules when we went to war with the Muslim world. Now it’s leaking out that there are American special forces in half a dozen or more countries, a kind of world war being fought in secret. Meanwhile, drones fly overhead, spying on populations below and, with a push of a button back in the U.S., killing suspected terrorists and any civilians who happen to be in the neighborhood.
            Twelve years of this has radicalized many Muslims. As those years went by, does it surprise anyone that, sooner or later, something like the Boston Marathon bombings would happen?
            We are a world at war again, and true to a prediction of Hopi Indian elders many years ago, this one is coming to us. And, as it’s always been, the majority of us who don’t want war are going to pay the price. The last resort of population control—after plague, drought, and famine—is war.
            You can have war without guns. But you can’t have guns without war.



At 9:28 AM , Anonymous Ann said...

Thank you DD, for this insightful and poignant piece...


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