write another law?
Every time there is a mass shooting in the U.S., there are long and loud cries for new laws to control access to guns, to lock triggers, to limit magazines, to ......
Rarely, if ever, is there a cry for the country's violent political and entertainment culture to be reined in.
Paradoxically in fact, it seems that the more and the louder are the cries for new "gun laws", the more the political and entertainment language and culture extend to extremes in both.
The superficial description of this widening divide points to the chasm between Republicans and Democrats including, but not restricted to, the former's obstruction of any and all proposed legislation from the latter. Just yesterday, Senator McConnell openly announced that Republicans were not going even to come up with a platform for their plans for 2022 as they face the favourable opinion polls pointing to Republican majority wins in both Senate and House.
Zero-sum games in a culture saturated with both guns and radioactive language and attitudes, aided and abetted by the deliberate denial and avoidance of empirical and indisputable facts, is a political, cultural, psychological, ethical and moral recipe for disaster.
The perceived antidote of writing and passing new laws as a prescription for the depth and the savagery of such a terminal, and apparently irreversible, cultural cancer is reminiscent of the mosquito scratching itself to death when sprayed with insecticide dust particles lodged in the crevices of its wings.
Ultimately and predictably ineffectual and thereby lethal!
Self-sabotage, however, is not foreign or alien to American, and likely many other, cultures. Hourly magnification of trend lines on stories of violence, through a lens that demands a hero and a victim, a winner and a loser, feeding an insatiable appetite of voyeurism addicted to violence, offers a steady diet that feeds this hunger.
And when the "cultural heroes" who serve as icons, if not actual idols, pursue wealth and status and power through whatever means at their disposal, everything that supports the national legendary metaphysic where cash and greed reign, how can the world expect something different.
Paradoxically too, food and nutrition insecurity, social security deficits, blocked access to health care and broadband, eroding roads, bridges, ports and airports parallel a tsunami of guns and lies.
Back in 2008, where Ms Palin was a vice-presidential candidate, the phrase "mascara on pig" surfaced to capture the aphorism that make-up cannot remove or erase the animal's identity.
Archetypes of horse-races, disgraced and fallen men, oscillating competitions with geopolitical enemies like Iran, China, Russia in a vain and limp comparative "balance" with CNN Heroes, or the anecdotal stories of "good news", do not a nutritious or even sustainable diet describe or prescribe to inculcate a healthy, mature, balanced and hopeful citizenry.
Religious voices disciplined in narratives and theory and praxis of hope and regeneration and rebirth, while melodic and harmonic and welcome, cannot and will not be heard and appreciated in a culture so deeply enmeshed in the angst of literalisms, immediate gratification and individual supremacy over the needs and aspirations of the community.
Reducing "the community" to a town or village, or even to "a state" (States Rights) and thus eliminating the common weal of national needs, aspirations and culture.
Stereotypical "warm and fuzzy" dramas like Hallmark movies, while illustrative of the human drama of romance, serve also as a "float" of icecream and soda pop hardly adequate to offset the deeper and nefarious addiction to violence and deception.
When a law in Wisconsin depicting a specific number of inches for an assault weapon to be banned as illegal justifies the dismissal of a charge against a seventeen-year-old self-proclaimed "protector" of law and order, we see the limit of trying to limit access to those weapons.
When a mother and father comport to buy and give a high-powered handgun to a fifteen-year-old, obviously deeply troubled son as a Christmas gift, we see the blood tragedy of four dead classmates and four others wounded including a teacher in an Oxford Michigan high school.
Chasing and joining a public debate about ideological positions on individual liberty versus government over-reach fails to capture or address the far more profound social and political, cultural, racial, economic and public health crises that, taken together as they both warrant and require, pose. It reminds me of a conversation with a former, now alienated colleague, who, upon learning of my displeasure with his behaviour and actions, protested vociferously, “I will counter each and every argument you present with my own!” To which I replied, “For God’s Sakes, X, it is not about winning an argument, it is a matter of trust and I do not trust you!”
In medical protocol, rarely is a full biographic workup given the time and attention in a professional culture that is designed on symptomatic interventions. Similarly, a symptomatic fixation pervades much of public discourse, legal system modus operandi, political debate and the most social service interventions.
Cultural "Gestalts" are complex and extremely difficult to untangle. Professionals trained in their respective disciplines and their concomitant language and definitions, while essential for objectivity and clarity, rarely cross boundaries into other disciplines. Indeed, the outsourcing of "expert" opinion and witnesses is a well-established pattern of the various processes involved.
A specific "cause" or issue, when investigated by interested parties, will predictably illuminate evidence that includes a variety of sources, as they purport to support the position of the advocate. Such initiatives lead to literary works, political campaigns, advertising campaigns and treatises both academic and public.
Too many events currently fall into a catch basin that demonstrates a failure to connect the multiple active "dots" and "forces" that, taken together, justify a willful blindness, denial and defiance of how the multiple factors coagulate into a picture demonstrative of a need for a significant and dramatic transformation of social attitudes underlying the culture.
Token adoption of "good" causes by corporations and/or philanthropics, even incentivized by tax concessions, are not adequate to compensate for the overriding negative energies of violence, deception and narcissistic greed.
Ecclesial voices, too, for their part, are invariably drowned out by the cacophony of the public noise and expectations.
Two young boys, one as self-appointed public defender, and another "whose life was worthless," illustrate far more serious social and cultural malaise than any single attempt to amend statutes can address.
An economy that relies for its survival on a 75% consumer-driven purchase ratio also demonstrates the personal acquisition of things drowns the public and legitimate need for environmental protections, universal health care, access to public education, and a national commitment to acknowledge basic facts and honourable, transparent and open collective responsibility.
A national budget that pours the largest allotment of national funds into the largest military establishment in world history demonstrates a dependency on hard power at the expense of legitimate human needs and aspirations. As importantly, the recruitment and training in that military and the para-military of millions in the use of weapons, in such a climate and culture, foreshadows and even predicts a deployment if those armed skills against whatever perceived opponents might arise.
The currently unregulated social media facilitates the worst and most dangerous nefarious attitudes, providing enhanced opportunities for coalescing into armed militia gangs determined to enforce their "victim" ideology on the culture.
Sacred kids, suicidal veterans, unemployed refugees from economic downturns, young people learning distrust of their personal and institutional mentors....and everyone running frightened of an out-of-reach mutating virus....
"the horse has already left the barn"...
only to find billions of dollars and millions of people aimed at and purposed for building stronger barn doors...
This gestalt is a recipe for epic tragedy.