Curiouser and Curiouser: Me and Guns

Good Lord, my views are changing. True, it’s an evolution, but it’s not been as slow a change as I thought it would be, if I ever saw myself changing at all. Which I hadn’t. At the least,  it’s been preponderant—and it is not over.

I’ll stop beating around the bush. The truth is, I’m becoming more supportive of gun rights. I know, I know: it scares me, too. But I’m also supportive of gun control–I’m adding that post-posting because initially no one said anything and I think this is a big deal. Then I realized: people are afraid of this topic, especially with the recent rash of violence.

Well, I’m not afraid of it anymore. I’ve been thinking a lot about it. I’ve decided: I’m FOR owning guns. I’m also for doing so responsibly. Bring ON gun control. I’m not scared of that either.

But why my change?

Maybe it’s because certain members of my family have been known to make very compelling (and by this I mean well reasoned)  arguments consistently, almost relentlessly. Maybe it’s because I’ve started reading more crime fiction (yes, some of this can be blamed on Steig Larsson).

But I think the main factor in my thinking has more to do with economic class strata. And I had never thought about it that way until this year.

The first thing that happened was a fundamental argument at home over whether or not we should have guns in the house. That was followed by another broader family issue of why bows were okay, but not guns.

Then, I had occasion to take a class back in DC out of Georgetown U on the philosophy framing up the Constitution. We got into Locke, Hobbes, and Cromwell—Oliver Cromwell.

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What hangs in the balance? I’m weighing guns and no guns.

That led to an interesting discussion on the British House of Lords, the American Senate, the British House of Commons and the American House of Representatives.

See where I’m going?

The powers that be, mired in their continued strife to counter balance one another, have a stricture that makes American legislative progress very, very slow. The slow pace allows for oodles of influence. In American, heck maybe all cultures, this creates space and time for undue influence from those who have space and time to lobby. The people with that space and time are afforded it by one simple fact: that they can AFFORD it.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Then, there’s the intriguing, albeit it short, paragraph of description and chapters of implication in Steig Larsson’s The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest where he argues that while “not everyone can afford security,” anyone at any time can find herself in need of it.

I’ve thought about that a lot. Most people don’t have elaborate security systems protecting their homes, safe guarding their children. Most of us walk around vaguely aware something bad can happen, but with nothing better to defend self and family than our wits. So, in America, people interested in personal security do what they can afford: they buy guns. Or inherit them. Or share them.

The crux of the philosophical debate in my family has always been: why do you need that level of security? If you want self defense, take a martial arts class, for heaven’s sake.

But, again, it boils down to what an individual person believes. That’s where Locke and Hobbes come in.

If one believes in Locke’s “clean slate” theory, that most people are good, they just get jaded by experience, then it might be easier to accept, as my family long has, that a person doesn’t need a personal protection system. We have a social contract that mandates certain levels of acceptable behavior. Most people subscribe to this. A police force and a judicial system are there for those who don’t.

That makes logical sense to me. And, as I’ve never been seriously injured or attacked by another person on American or any other soils, my experience verifies there’s some truth to this.

Then there’s Hobbes who argued that people are animals who bite and fight and scratch for whatever they can get out of this life. As a result, the American Constitution—and other western systems—include protective measures to guard against the corruptible nature of humanity. I suspect that the oft-debated 2nd Amendment  stems from this politically-philosophic notion that, possibly, as a last resort, the American republic should have the ability to bear arms against the tyranny of the majority—something the Founding Fathers seemed to fear based on the more recent history (in their era) of General Cromwell and the British Crown.

For me, it’s been a lot to think about. (As my thinking simultaneously occurs with my talking, I’ve recently been ranting on Facebook about buying into bought elections and people not thinking for themselves, but more on that later). Weighing the great gun question in my home, I strive to balance it with some sort of consistency: no quick changes, nothing rash. Steady, preponderant and heavy consideration for the pros and cons shall guide my hand.

The debate has waged on for two years. But I feel my view softening, weakening to the point of accepting hard weaponry, at some level.

And the irony of that just kills me.
——-
From a friend’s Facebook page:

Does this bother anyone else?
1) Wednesday, June 4: a shooter in Moncton, Canada: http://bit.ly/1nnhoKg
2) Thursday, June 5: a shooter in Seattle, WA: http://cnn.it/1mgQ25m
3) Friday, June 6: a shooter in Atlanta, GA: http://yhoo.it/1kfnXdh
4) Friday, June 6: the beginning of 30 people shot in Chicago, IL:http://nbcnews.to/1kUUsUa

See More

A gunman opened fire Thursday at Seattle Pacific University, killing one person and wounding two before being tackled by a student security guard, Seattle police said.
CNN|BY RALPH ELLIS AND CHELSEA J. CARTER, CNN

 

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Con Dios

Proof that a personalized plate can be clear in meaning, yet still difficult to understand.

Proof that a personalized plate can be clear in meaning, yet still difficult to understand.

Is it sad that some of my best ideas happen in my car? Never mind. It’s a rhetorical question. It happened again, is all. The impetus this time? A license plate reading “Con Dios.”

The car wasn’t going very fast–an interesting idea in itself as God hasn’t shown much speed since creating the world and universe in only seven days. More importantly, however, was that the plate was in Spanish. And this is only important because I could actually read it. Yes, I can read in Spanish. I can barely hear it when spoken, but eventually, I do catch on.

How nice of this driver, I presumed a woman, to be wishing me to go with God. That’s a nice thought. I felt warm inside, despite the soul-zapping cold outside. I smiled to myself and hummed along with the radio, thinking back to my recent trip abroad where I impressed a Jordanian member of the “tourism police” with my (limited) Spanish speaking capabilities. He’d never met a bilingual American before and asked me to speak in Spanish to prove I knew how. I gladly obliged by asking him if he’d like a beer (and then laughed silently in my head knowing full well he didn’t drink). Ah, good times.

It’s a sure sign of my own hubris that I so easily amuse myself.

I glanced over as “ConDios” turned off to the right. Go with God, I thought silently wishing her well. Of course, I mused, technically that would be “Vaya con Dios.” Yes, the plate was missing an action verb. In fact, it was kind of missing a verb altogether.

I gave the short phrase a fair shake, grammatically speaking. If one took it at face value, it really only said “With God.”  I had assumed the predicate relationship, entirely. I’m sure the driver had good intentions when buying the plate. On the other hand, without an action verb, or even a helping verb, the preposition created a singular statement of being. The driver was with God. Not me; just she.

Wait a minute.

It could be that my mistake was one of semantics: a classic case of two people using different words or phrases to say the same thing. “Con Dios” could be an abbreviated greeting for brevity’s sake. That idea held for a few minutes as I clung to my ideology that most people are good and want good things for others.

Then, I thought about what I know of other people.

Perhaps, my mistake was deeper, text-to-language, language-to-language, or the classic different-language-text-to-other-language-translation. Lost in translation, i.e. hermeneutics. I love the subtleties of meaning and nuance. Was this a nuanced license plate?

My hubris deflated. Maybe I didn’t get it, after all. It was very possible the driver was making an important distinction, which I had glossed over by translating poorly. In proclaiming her status as “With God!” she was, by contrast, denouncing mine. Maybe the value interlaced therein was rife with judgement:
“I am; you’re not.”
“I have God; you don’t!”
“He’s on my side; not yours!”
“Heathen!”
And then she turned to the right!

Good Lord! I’d been following the Tea Party!

I was near the office and had almost worked myself into an unrecoverable state of righteous indignation. At this point, I had to let it go. It was just a license plate, an overblown bumper sticker.

I’ve never been a big fan of the personalized license plate, primarily because it costs some serious cash. I don’t have extra moolah lying around. Besides, if I’m going to put my money where my mouth is, I need a lot more space. It sure as hell won’t be a license plate.

It’ll most likely be a blog.

Intergalactic

Have you ever pulled up just short of your goal? That’s exactly what happened to Urb and Morg when they were careening through Earth’s atmosphere–

(Urb and Morg aren’t their real names. As I have no idea how they communicate, or if they even have a language, I am clueless how they refer to one another.)

–careening through Earth’s atmosphere when Urb suddenly pulled up on the brakes, stopping them mid-dive. As the atmosphere cooled around their ship and the flames died down, Morg awoke from cybersnoozis.

“What’dya do that for?” he huffed at his cabin-mate. Then, he cocked his wappadoodles–

(Again, as I don’t know how they communicate, I don’t know what they actually call the things on their extremities that interpret sound waves.)

“What is that horrible sound?” Morg granulated.

Urb retracted all five wappadoodles. “Dunno. But, I can’t take it!” he said through clenched siphonatics. “It hurts.”

“It’s a constant whelmatica. Ahhh! What can it be? Does it constitute as ‘life?’ Should we fotondrunda back that some form of life occupies this planet?”

“I’m not sure I really care anymore,” Urb replied. “Let’s get out of here.”

He threw the ship in reverse and jettisoned back into open space.

I thought about Urb and Morg this morning on my own commute, albeit one shorter than the aliens’, when a new song came across the World Classic Rock radio station.

This is the album cover for the Beastie Boys' album that featured the song "Intergalactic Planetary."

This song I like.

“What is that horrible sound?” I asked myself. “It hurts.” And I turned it off.

Normally, I like certain kinds of loud music. But this particular song, for whatever reason, sounded like tinny cheese-grater jingle bells dragged across mismatched guitar strings overlaying poorly constructed harmonies. I couldn’t help but wonder if I were the only one having such a reaction. In fact, could any species, anywhere, endure such a noise? What if all those sound waves floating about in space were to intersect across the audio palate of an uninitiated life form?

I surmised it would likely be off-putting.

And what ramifications would there be if two such creatures really did stumble upon our planet and…left immediately? Well, for one thing, I thought to myself as I drove alone in my car, we’d have to give our theology a much closer review.

I’m not quite sure how I moved from bad music, to alien invasion, to the existence of God; but isn’t that the purpose of art, after all: to inspire, cause wonder, see the world as one might not have seen it before and be moved to question?

I threw my mind into reverse and jettisoned back to my Philosophy of Art class so many years ago. I nodded at memories as I continued driving.

Then I leaned forward…and turned the song back on.

Oh, for the love of Sport!

The other day, my girlfriend swung by my place unannounced. She walked in, plopped on the couch, asked after my children, then began a brief assessment of my current state of being.

“What ya listening to?” she asked.
“Um, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam–I was in a grunge sort of mood,” I answered. I had just loaded up my CD player.
She nodded appreciatively, then cocked her head. “You sure you know what year it is, Chief?”
I just stared at her.
“Fine. So, whatcha wearing?”
I glanced down at my Eddie Bauer slacks and fleece pull over. “Just stuff. Why?”
“Un-hun.” She didn’t seem impressed. “And you’re drinking Starbucks, naturally.”
“Naturally,” I confirmed.
“I gotta tell ya, it’s a little too Seattle for me.”
“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding!” I started to laugh. I lifted up my fleece to reveal a navy and orange  tee I’d just picked up at Target the day before. The head of a Bronco with flaming mane embossed the front.
“Oh, much better!” she smiled.
“All that just to confirm this?” I asked, pointing to my shirt.
“Okay, okay,” she relented. “I just wanted to see if you’re coming over for the Super Bowl, or not.”

Professional football players for the Denver Broncos in orange uniforms celebrate their win of the AFC Championship.

The Broncos celebrate after winning the AFC Championship against the New England Patriots.

It’s everywhere, this hype and hoopla. It’s the Rocky Mountain Routine. I have a friend adding up his annual leave to determine if he can work half day on Friday just to drive Denver Bronco Boulevard and sign the sidewalk in spirit chalk.
“Oh for the love of Pete!” I said when he told me his plans.
“They have three for ten t-shirts!”
“Never mind that,” said another co-worker. “Get your clingy-thingy.”
Wait, my what?

Ask a stupid question…a quick search on-line revealed special United in Orange-Bronco Mania-Time to Ride window decals. They are available, free, from KUSA, Denver news station, at a retailer near you!  Pinterest is pinging me with dip recipes, Facebook is loaded with taunts and challenges, and commercial vendors are sponsoring Superbowl related tweets ad nauseum. My phone runneth over.

Facebook taunts = good times.

FB fun: This one was called “The Four Remaining Quarterbacks.”

And for what? For fun, I guess. For something to look forward to, for something to crow about. For a reason to jump up and down and cheer and get really excited. Speaking of that, our local police department has already issued a warning that over exuberant celebrators will not be appreciated.

Like most people, I love the thrill of competition. I try to keep it under my hat–or my pull-over fleece–but once in a while, it escapes me. And I mean that literally and figuratively. Literally, my own excitement bubbles to the top and I start planning appetizers, finding parties, and buying beer. Or, I get inspired and start running or biking again.

But figuratively, the philosopher side of me ponders the psychology and the deep-seated need we all seem to have, to crave. We want our champions. We build up our heroes. Why? Why in this day and age do we still need the motif myth of the Greek (or Roman!) god (or goddess!)? What gives?  After all, if we’re going to chase after Platonic forms, I’d think they should be somewhat beneficial.

All my life I have shunned the purchase of jerseys, particularly the jersey with some famed athlete’s name across the back. That I flat out refuse. I have my own name, dang it. I’m not so willing to sport free advertising on my own person. And what’s with the autographed “thing from the guy in the place?”  I know, sometimes stuff like that is worth a lot of money. Then again, why do signatures become a thing of value? I know people with basements full of that kind of merchandise. Do we really want Someone Else’s accomplishments crowding out our own identity in our homes?

Hmpf. Apparently.

Empirically, I do get it. I do understand that hullabaloo builds business, creates opportunities and frees us up for a good time. The ritual of “something to celebrate” is a mainstay in human culture.  But “mania” also implies a lot of lacking discretion. Individuals might be smart or savvy; mobs and crowds are not. Yet here we go, again. The frenzy unfolds, forthwith.

We’re flinging ourselves into the debauchery of sports mania, tossing common sense to the wind, whooping it up, and hoping for a win. That kind of crazy is just…contagious. Damn it.

Count me in.