How Did We Get To Here?
I feel so lucky to live in a diverse city where people from every religion and nationality live and that means a myriad of different faces pass me on the street every single day. New York City is a place over 8.5 million people who for the most part respect each other for who they are and manage to live together in a variety of boroughs peacefully….and note Los Angeles is right behind us where we spend long periods of time. Although peacefully can mean tranquil, I mean without constant disturbance because of race, religion or ethnicity.
This past week, a young man in Rochester Hills, Michigan, missed his bus and walked through neighborhoods to get there. He got lost and knocked on a neighbors door to get some directions because he wasn’t sure where he was. The wife began yelling at the young man who is all of 14 and then her husband grabbed a shotgun and shot him. The good news is he missed and that young man is still here to tell the story.
Rochester Hill is a relatively safe community and if you do a little research, it is a great place to live. I can’t help ask the question, how did we and when did we get to this place where people fear someone who doesn’t look like them? How did we get to a place where a young 22-year-old white woman sticks a handgun in the waist of her shorts and takes a selfie shot and posts it to show that she is empowered to feel safe? How did we get to the place where black men are being handcuffed to sitting in a Starbucks waiting for a friend? Where did this fear and insanity come from?
If we flipped the tables on all three of the events I pointed out, where it was a white kid knocking on the door for directions and a black man grabbed his gun and shot him or a black college student stuck a gun in their pants and took an Instagram that they were now safe or a bunch of white kids hanging out in a Starbucks got handcuffed for waiting for a friend, what would be the response to that?
Something is very wrong. We certainly have no leadership in this country and somehow we are all losing our moral compass. That what is right for one isn’t right for the other and that we are disrespecting our neighbor out of fear is disturbing. It isn’t like these people are living out in the prairies in the 1800’s.
I don’t have an answer for all of this but it scares the shit out of me and I find all of the above insanely unsettling.
The reality is that we are safer in big cities then without.I think that this is the evolution that diversity breeds.When I was a small child I used to ride the subways with my grandfather who would tell me in yiddish where i can’t get off and be safe. That is no longer at all true here.I simply start with the stuff that works and move forward. Otherwise I stall and flounder.
This is going to be controversial, but, I’ve got some cred here. I grew up in gun country (Wyoming), shooting guns. I was surrounded by gun “enthusiasts.” I’m married to a gun enthusiast (who’s also an ardent gun control supporter, including banning weapons of war). Here’s what I’ve observed in and been told by those very enthusiasts. Guns are a fetish for a lot of people involved in this conversation (as your photo today readily demonstrates). Fetishes are irrational and stem from subconscious drives and needs. They need to be fed a constant and increasingly intense diet. Where a shotgun used to suffice, only an AR-15 will do now.Combine that fetish with another largely irrational drive, fear, and you’ve got the perfect storm for… profit. Fear is stoked in all of us every day to sell all manner of products. Gun manufacturers peddle fear of the ‘other’ to sell guns. Politicians peddle it to get elected. Equifax peddles it to sell useless identity theft monitoring. It goes on and on.Fear is the lowest common denominator. The easy sell.
Fear is definitely the lowest common denominator…and it is being used heavily these days
.Interesting comment.I grew up in a military family on Army posts. Weapons were a tool of that trade just as a Skil saw or a hammer would be a carpenter’s tool.There was an element of pride in mastering that tool. Marksmanship was a learning experience and the skill came hard.Overarching everything was the notion of safety. Not just safety from the perspective of a user, but a healthy respect for the unintended consequences of an accidental discharge or a weapon malfunctioning and destroying itself. You violate any element of safety, and you got a wack in the head.My Dad would take me to the rifle range and I would get an M1 carbine and a sergeant (never my father) who would train me and supervise me. I’d spend 3-4 hours shooting. When I was bigger, I got an M1 Garand. At every turn, it was all about safety and skill. It takes a lot of effort to develop the skill that puts a bullet where you aim it at 2-600 yards.I went to a military school whereat we had rifles in our rooms plus bayonets. You threaten anybody with that rifle or bayonet, you were dismissed. You kept that rifle spotless and every Friday, you went out on parade. You learned to shoot, but by that time I was an accomplished marksman.During this time, I used a rifle professionally as well as howitzers, mortars, machine guns, grenades, tanks, and air power. Overarching everything was the knowledge that these things had a purpose and were only used in the correct manner and for their intended purpose.When I was out of the Army, I would deer and bird hunt. I never shot a deer that wasn’t eaten by humans. We had strict rules — rifles in the deer house and ammunition in the vehicles locked up. Nobody went near any weapon if there was beer involved. Most deer camps I frequented there was no beer during the hunt except for the last day when we broke camp.I was a stickler for gun safety and if I personally caught anyone breaking a rule — crossing a fence with a loaded rifle in hand — I would give a warning and then kick them out of the deer camp.Today, I own weapons and I regularly train, practice, and if I had to protect myself I could do it without endangering anybody else.I tell you this because I have never been “enthusiastic” about weapons. I like weapons and I like excellent performing weapons — pre-WWII over-under Browning shotguns, P-38 pistols, Beretta 0.380s, Sako rifles with Zeiss sights.I doubt I will ever bird or deer hunt again. I don’t miss it except for the camaraderie.There are a lot of jackoffs who somehow superimpose their masculinity with guns. I see it all the time. When you’ve crept up on guns through the military, that is not a notion you embrace. You’re calmer about it because you’ve fired weapons so many times.The answer may be to de-mystify guns and make the ownership of a gun an exercise in maturity and responsibility. There were a few guys I would never invite to deer camp because they couldn’t calm down enough to be safe. I just never invited them.Interestingly enough, the best training I have seen is the NRA’s marksmanship training which is primarily ex-military who really know how to shoot.In my most optimistic moments, I think we can work through this if everyone is a little more honest. Then, I despair and think it will not change.I humbly submit that the country wants people like me to own guns.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…
It is fear in an amplifying echo chamber. It has started to haunts us. True in MOST countries. I blame the politicians and media. But people have to demonstrate mutual affection and love and zest for life.
I blame them too.