Sunday, January 20, 2013

More Shouting Down the Well

Yesterday  was Gun Appreciation Day. I didn't say anything about it, following my mom's excellent advice 'if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.' It wasn't a day the Hallmark folks will rush out a line of cards to help celebrate but it was eventful, I guess, if by 'eventful' you mean ironic. Schadenfreude ist auch ein freude, but in recent months arguments about guns and gun control (as if the two ideas were diametrically opposed or mutually exclusive) have gotten old and hearts have gotten cold.

I was in the Air Force and fired an M-16 rifle for familiarization even though I often told the armorer, 'yep, there it is right there, I recognize it!' I wasn't a warrior, I was a disc jockey for Unca Sam, but I had no doubts that if fired upon by someone who didn't like me, I would have to return fire. I also understood one or the other of us would have to be forced to stop. So, I "get" guns but not to the extent so many of the rest of us seem to.

A month ago former Governor Mike Huckabee, who will never be mistaken for the most reasonable man in the room, had an observation about the heartbreak and horror of  Newtown, Connecticut and Sandy Hook Elementary School that was beyond bizarre. I appreciate those who have taken the Lord who watched over the lilies of the field and who has His eye on the sparrow and have turned Him into the shift supervisor of the Neighborhood Watch.

I sort of prefer that Lord to the one for whom  I make the sign of the cross before I shoot a foul shot in a pro basketball  game (yes, Jason Kidd, I mean you) or to whose home in the heavens I point after I hang that slider just off the plate and still get the third strike called. With due respect to Governor Huckleberry Hound, I'm with Randy Newman on the Divinity.

But speaking of eye on the sparrow, here's a thought to shift your eye level. In the five or so weeks since Newtown, about nine hundred other people in this country have died in gun violence. Not much of it made the news, I know. It's just another day in 'Murikah I guess, because no one from the President of the United States to the Nazi Ranger Assholes who see the Rise of the Third Reich when the size of  ammo cartridges is discussed, seems to care about any of those deceased people. Maybe it's another example of our goldfish-like span of attention. Or perhaps, unlike the children in Newtown, they're not really dead. After all, if a tree falls in the forest and there aren't any satellite uplink trucks to bring it to us live in HDTV, does it (still) get its own benefit concert at MSG?

I'm old enough to remember when the cool kid in seventh grade had a pen knife for show and tell. Now we accept as a fact of life that we have more metal detectors in our schools than in all other public buildings in this country combined. And more people incarcerated than 1/3 of the nations who are members of the UN.

Gun Appreciation Day or Depreciation Day. A plague on both houses. We need to promise one another we'll stop posturing and pouting, or electing asshats who do one and/or the other. Pointing fingers at 'that guy on the other side' doesn't fix anything and never did. And when you look down at that hand, three of the fingers are pointing back at yourself, which is only fair because that's where the change has to start.

My mantra has become 'Begin with Me' and if morons on either side of the Polemic Potomac folks want to think that's a request to a Higher Power, that's fine but it's not. If they want to see it as a call to action, so much the better and maybe closer to the intent. What it isn't and never will be is acquiescence in my own annihilation. We can not only make a difference, we must be the difference. Consider this your invitation to bear witness and your share of the burden.
-bill kenny

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