Thursday, December 20, 2012

Three Wills to Power: Violence, Wealth, Knowledge

Today has been a good day so far. It's five days before Christmas, and in spite of the horrible tragedy of last Friday, the country is moving forward discussing issues that have long needed discussing. I'm still looking for a job, but many people have come forward with ideas and have even gone so far as sending me job applications. I have filled them out. I am still looking however, but as always, I am always expecting my ship to come in, and keep my left eye on the sea. 

Although I've noticed I've lost a couple of friends because of my gun posts, I'm used to that, and as I have mentioned, I've gotten to a point in my life beyond trying to be a people pleaser. I try to speak from my experience and from my heart. I submitted a post in regard to my own feeling towards guns, and was so very stimulated by the response I received back. I tried to quantify my views, and because people did respond, I was able to express myself in diverse ways, that I think made some sense. When I sold my guns, I didn't do so with the intent of feeling liberated when I did, it was just something that happened afterwards. My post was not to state that I think everyone should go out and sell their guns, it was a personal revelation that happened when I did. I had to sell them in Austin, because I was broke and in need of groceries. For years, I realized that the gun beneath my seat created an anxiety that disappeared after it was gone. The saddle rifle that belonged to my Dad was much harder to part with, however, when I sold it, I felt as though I let go of a part of him that created anxiety. Personal experience. I had a friend with children who would not part with his because of a general protection ideology, but at the same time, another friend felt just the opposite, that with guns in the house he feared for a possible accident in regard to his children. This did point out very different points of view that both made logical sense.

Because I come from Utah, and because I was brought up around a culture where guns where the same as shovels, a valuable tool, I keep and value many of those friends and family who know that rural sort of life, and to me, the need for a good 30-30 saddle rifle did and still makes sense to me. As I pointed out, when we rode the mountain or went down below pushing or gathering cattle, there was no thought of gun control. A rifle was essential, and there were no debates about gun control. In the same post, however, I have been in situations where a gun was almost the end of me, and as my mother attested, I was abused and made to play Russian roulette with an abusive step-father. That was as real as it gets. I really don't think that gun control would have done anything to change that particular situation, other than the fact that he had a gun, and quite possibly obtained the gun legally and in a way that I don't expect the laws to change much. And I really don't advocate them to, because this was a situation that stemmed from an abusive alcoholic. Most violent gun murders that occur from domestic violence occur from substance abuse issues, and I don't think either side of the issue would argue this fact.

Being someone who has always tried to look at the optimistic side of my life, as I grow older with the examination of it, the fact remains that guns and violence have always been a part of its fiber. This latest occurrence has allowed my mother and I to discuss this part of her life, (with me in it growing up) in a way that I believe has been healthy and therapeutic. She has been able to express why she made the choices that she made in bringing these violent men into our lives, and honestly? I really do understand it. The wonderful thing is that she and I were able to talk about it, and bring light to it.

For those of you who know my plays, many of them are rife with violence. That was a life that I knew and saw, I wrote what I knew. If there was criticism of this work, it was usually in the guise of critics who did not understand, (or want to understand) that this is a part of many peoples' lives, and to bring it into the theatre and examine it was not something that many wanted to do. However, the actors that were a part of these plays were always cognizant that this was not just something I made up, but there was an authenticity that gave them wonderful parts to play. Blackout Blues, C&W, Blue BabyThe Pig Hunter, Bohemian Cowboy, all plays with guns and violence. In fact, there is no practical reason why I should even be alive, given the circumstances that were often a part of my life. I can tell you, having to pull the trigger with a gun to your head with a bullet somewhere in the chamber is not something that you forget about. Being assaulted in jail and hospitalized  from the brutality of two violent murderers with no one to stop them stays with you…forever. If there is anyone of us who has had a life's experience that might advocate the necessity of always having a gun on my person, I can tell you, it is me, and yet I choose to let that part of my life go because of the violent energy that goes with that kind of protection. I am always struck by the idea of many of the advocates of guns comes from those who would advocate a Christian God, and the very real hypocrisy that comes from gun advocacy, if your beliefs are authentic, why not allow for your God to protect you from all forms of evil, including the loss of your life from a gun? And, yes, I do know all of the arguments that ensue from this question, free will, God helps those who help themselves,etc. My point here is that unless you have real life experience to make your point, or have the intellectual prowess to be logical in your arguments, they so often appear to be hollow.

As I've said before, my Facebook friends' list is very diverse. Although very recently, I did de-friend someone who posted a photo of Nazis pushing dead jewish people into a trench and advocating that these Jewish people could have somehow been saved if there had not been some sort of gun control. These kind of arguments and posts make you look really ignorant, I am sorry to say, because the variables that occurred in this situation have nothing to do with the current condition we are in, or even for those who were killed and experienced unspeakable suffering at the hands of the Third Reich regime. This kind of rhetoric and these photos do nothing to further the discussion, and in fact, makes me a little frightened of the extremity of your view. (If you read this) 

I had another person post that he just purchased his new glock ten millimeter, and felt much more comfortable with this weapon on his person. The only reason I gave this person some respect was knowing that he had recently served in Afghanistan, and although his comments were very aggressive, I at least respected some of his arguments. People who have been to war, and have seen war, I've noticed have two very different points of view on the subject. Either they take a road of a very real understanding of the devastation that a gun can cause and wish to put guns down forever, or else they continue to be at war with the rest of the world, albeit a quieter form of war. The arguments of gun control and the issues it creates in America, (which is the third most violent gun death country in the world), I understand the issues are diverse and complicated. Although I would have to say that I am a pacifist when it comes to war, I also consider myself a very knowledgeable person on the history of war, and there is no question in my mind that WWII was a war that was a very necessary war, no question. Without the American Revolution, we would not be a country. I even understand the need for WWI. The Civil War breaks my heart, but I understand why it had to be fought. War is a condition of mankind, always has been, and I shutter, but believe that although we would love peace and are more progressive in our thinking that we've ever been, my personal thinking is that war will eventually kill us before a comet or the Mayan calendar ever will. War and violence are part of our collective consciousness, and it continues to evolve. The day will come when the weaponry we have will blow up our planet, even though I would love to think otherwise.

I do believe that mental illness is an overwhelming variable in the rash of school and public shootings. I'll save that discourse for another day, but I will say this. There are three main components to the will to power. A will to power is also part of the collective consciousness of mankind. We all have it, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. We would all like to believe that even in our quest for supreme humility, that this is not a will to power, but in fact, it still is, in an altered form. All power can be summarized in three ways. Violence as a means, Wealth as a means, and Knowledge as a means. Whatever power you wish directly or indirectly to obtain, comes under the guise of these three entities. Would it not be wonderful if Knowledge was the ambition of our aspirations to achieve it?  For if we did, violence and the aspiration to wealth would not be so easily or wishfully sought. We would have a much better grasp on how to save ourselves and live a more harmonious life. I've always said this, and believe it more than I ever did, if instead of increasing the defense budget, we doubled the education budget in our system. If we did this, many of the issues we have with violence would begin to subside. Education is the key to many of the issues we face, and the responsibility to ensure that it is available to everyone in our country. In fact, I would go so far as to say, this would be a law I would support in an extreme manner. I'm not talking about propaganda and a brainwashing, I'm talking about the highest degree of education that mankind has achieved thus far. Knowledge is that power component that exists, but should exist sevenfold. As an educator, I can honestly say that I KNOW there have been moments in my teaching career that I made a real difference. Can you imagine if the best and the brightest in every field were getting $100,000.00 per year to impart what they know? If programs were expanded and we became a country who would wage war in the world with our knowledge? Just a thought…


Cheryl said...

An incredibly thoughtful and intelligent post. I wish it were on the front page of a large newspaper for more people to see. Keep thinking those deep and insightful thoughts about our most challenging issues.

Gerry said...

I came and was inspired by Cheryl's comment to weigh in. For being a pacifist who has never personally fired a gun my life has been greatly impacted by guns. I saw my dad first try to beat a guy who had come back to town after rustling his cattle when I was five. When he started getting the worst of the fight he ran over and jumped in the car saying he was going for a gun to kill the bastard. My mother screamed at him that the cattle rustler and former pal had been sentenced to 5 years in the state pen and the judge had just let him come home to put his affairs in order. My dad was drinking and he had not been told that, probably because of the very possibility of such an encounter. My dad's threats to kill actually kept me from telling my parents that I had been molested by my dad's new hired man, because I thought my dad would not hesitate, he would kill him if he could. Despite this being the wild west I did not think it would do our family or me any good if he also became a murderer. But I knew my dad would not even give law enforcement the chance to take care of it, for many reasons, so his having a gun and being willing to use it did not protect me at all. If he had remained calm, only that would have helped me not hot headed threats to go for his gun and take care of the rustler or the molester. I did not give my dad the chance to 'protect' me until after the molester had fled the country due to something I said without my dad being involved. When he did find out he refused to let me even discuss it. He did not want to hear any more about it.