First of all I want to say this is not an anti-America rant.
Nor am I suggesting I have answers to the problem I am going to talk about.
And finally, I fully accept, this is a theoretical perspective, rather than one fact-checked to within an inch of it’s life.
However, the events in Oregon these past few days have bothered me immensely.
What has made the horror of it even more real for me is, ironically, a Canadian Police Drama [19-2] that, coincidentally, featured a storyline similar to the events that unfolded at Umpqua Community College.
The way they conveyed the horror, fear, desperation and senselessness of the situation really affected me so my heart goes out to those affected because I can only imagine the reality is so much worse. [episode 1 of series 2, if you’re interested]
As you have probably guessed, this is about gun control.
As we have seen, it’s a subject that polorizes countries, communities and people.
Of course there’s an argument to say that with so many dead at the hands of guns – and with so much evidence to suggest America’s casual approach to gun ownership and control is a contributing factor – it’s amazing we are still in this situation. But we are.
As with most things in life, there is no single reason for why things happen, but a million.
Reasons with merit.
Reasons with agenda.
Reasons which no one wants to talk about … from an attitude of dealing with the mentally ill through [over]medication to the outrageous and disgraceful level of influence [and ignorance] held by the NRA.
But what if it’s not just about the amount of guns that reside in the US?
Let’s face it, there are many countries in Europe with a huge proportion of gun ownership and yet their level of gun related murder – let alone mass killings – is very small.
From a personal perspective – and this is something few people know – my Italian family has one of the biggest private gun collections in the World and yet they have never been in any situation involving the illegal use of firearms.
So here’s my question …
What if this is less about guns and more about cultural DNA?
America may be the land of the free but it’s also the country of meritology.
Like the days of the wild, wild West … everyone is painfully aware that your success is in your own hands.
If you make it, life is amazing … you are bathed in glory and pearls.
But if you don’t … well, then you are placed upon the metaphorical scrap heap.
Discarded. Denied. Ignored. Dismissed. Invisible.
For all the amazing things about America – and there’s countless things – it has a pathological fear of socialism.
They – and I absolutely acknowledge I am being generalistic here – see socialism as giving lazy people a “helping hand”. It doesn’t matter if these people are desperate, alone and in need, the thought process is they’ve somehow brought it on themselves and to offer aid would be to reward apathy.
Of course this is ridiculous, but it is, in some ways, the backbone of the American belief system – work hard and you will prosper – despite the fact millions upon millions of people work multiple jobs and are still broke.
The reason I say this is because a funny thing happens when people are desperate … when they feel discarded by society … they become desperate.
Of course there are, sadly, people who feel this way in England, Switzerland, Austria etc etc … but there is one significant difference.
They have a social welfare system.
Of course, many of these countries governments are trying to minimize this because they see it as an expense, but while they could and should be better funded, more positively promoted and better managed to make sure some people can’t fall through the cracks, there is something there.
Something that can help. Advice. Be connected to. Not let you feel alone.
While it might be tragic that people need it, the welfare state is humanities last resort … a system designed to leave no one behind … and it’s a wonderful thing and a perfect reason why we should pay our taxes and demand our governments treasure it rather than destroy it.
But my point is this.
Could America’s anti-socialist, meritology based value system be contributing to the spate of gun crimes?
Could people feeling they have already lost lead to a desperation to survive.
From having food to being heard?
I know this can’t be the only answer. I know this is very uncomfortable and I know there are probably lots of answers and reasons. But despite my relatively privileged situation, I felt the flimsy line that separates comfort and desperation when you are in the American system and yet when I lived in England or Australia, I never felt that … I always felt there was a net for me … something that could catch me.
Sure, I knew it wouldn’t bathe me in riches, but knowing it wouldn’t let me fall all the way down was a very treasured thing, even if I only realised when the situation was a possibility.
Now if I was to ask some of the people in America – not just the misfits and the lonely, but average, middle-of-the-road Americans – I’m not they would feel that same level of protection.
Please don’t mistake me for trying to defend what these killers have done … I’m not, it’s tragic, barbaric and cowardly, nor am I trying to be abusive to US, it’s a wonderful country that I regard highly and there’s a bunch of problems in other nations that America has ensured they will never face … I’m just trying to understand why it could be happening in America more than any other nation on Earth.
I tell you what, given China’s attitude to survival is quite similar to America’s [your family is your only security] I’m greatful gun ownership is against the law because potentially, if there is any merit to what I am suggesting/thinking/wondering, we would see similar tragedies over here as we have seen far too many times over there.
I hope anyone who bothers to read this can see I’m looking for answers rather than abuse because this issue doesn’t need anymore political rhetoric, just some honest, objective discussion between people.
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