If you read my brother’s blog, Mind and Market: A Safe Haven for Liberty, you’re likely to think a couple of things. Was one of them adopted? (no); and I wonder what Thanksgiving is like at their house? (peaceful and delicious, thank you very much). Despite our divergent views on how to perfect this broken world, there are plenty of things we agree on, like that my kids are the two of the greatest people who ever lived. Also, he has been trying to get to the bottom of gun violence statistics for the last few days. He’s doing it from his own frame of reference, which happens to be pretty different from mine, but I appreciate his larger point. Let’s not just do something because it makes us feel good and lulls us back to sleep.
Also because I can look at his posts and see his intent, rather than just the parts that piss me off. I am a little more humble since Friday, my world started to feel a little more fragile. Maybe we’ve been stunned and quieted, so we have a unique opportunity to choose our next step. In meditation I learn that the mind wanders, because that’s what the mind does. But the moment we realize it happens, we then have the choice to follow it or to come back to the present. That’s the moment that matters.
All the passionate gun advocates I’ve spoken with agree with me. Guns are not the final solution, but they cannot be removed from scrutiny here. Likewise, while I’d like to sprinkle hippy fairy dust and make the guns disappear, I know they are not going away. At my core I am pragmatic. I want solutions that work, and accept that the time spent working them out is at least as important as the solutions themselves.
During my morning meditation and writing, I was thinking about this Friday, the Winter Solstice. It’s the darkest day of the year. The invitation of these dark days is to look within, to find the growing spark. As Albert Camus said, “In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.”
Then shattering my emotional serenity, I went from meditation to reading David Simon’s latest blog post, Newtown, Conn. He wondered what that hot new zombie television show says about us.
This isn’t mere entertainment, it’s national consensus. More than that, it’s a well-executed and starkly visual rendering of the collective fear that governs us. We know that they’re out there: The less human. The poor. The godless. The frightening other. And they want what we have, they are going to take what we have, and they understand nothing save for a well-placed bullet. It’s my understanding that the show I encountered is quite popular; in this America, it may even be called populist in its argument — a morality tale that speaks to why we must arm ourselves, and carry those guns with us, and stand our fucking ground; it declares that we can’t rely on collective, utilitarian will to achieve a safe and viable society, that government by the people and for the people is, at this point, an empty catchphrase for fools and weaklings. No, our future is every man for himself, and a gun in every outstretched hand, and if a classroom of six and seven year olds is the requisite cost every now and then, so be it.
I remember during the Bush Administration, in some circles a popular slogan was “Regime Change Begins At Home.” If we are to believe that mass shootings are a multi-dimensional problem, then we need system-wide change. We are the system. Not them, not those pitiable folk down the street or across the nation, not the dark people, not the zombies. The system is us.
What is your role?
Our darkest days are here. The light returns in real but almost imperceptibly small increments.
What spark will you follow?