The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Winning At Something No One Wants …
October 5, 2015, 10:16 am
Filed under: Culture, Guns, Social Divide

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.

Complicated reasons.

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.

Financial aid.

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.

Thank you.

12 Comments so far
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There is no easy answer to this tragic situation Robert, but there are some obvious starting points. Unfortunately the American political system means they are obsessed with not exploring them, possibly because they focus on what they will personally lose rather than what the nation will gain.

Your point is an interesting one. I had not considered it. I don’t know if it is accurate but you are right to say there is a paranoia towards socialism and the implications of that attitude are undermining to many in society.

Comment by Lee Hill

Interesting approach, Rob.

I’m reminded of the notion that “we don’t have ideas, ideas have us”. America seems to be totally imprisoned in a set of conflicting ideas about its origins and values, including the rights and responsibilities of the individual versus society as a whole. The polarisation of US politics hasn’t helped, it’s simply made the probability of consensus and compromise more remote.

These internal contradictions are exploited by the NRA and the ‘cold dead hands’ approach of its current leadership. This was not always the case – believe it or not, gun control was a less hysterical issue in the past. Far from harking right back to the nation’s birth, the use of the Second Amendment as a constitutional ‘right’ to universal gun ownership was only legalised in 2008 (as argued by the NRA).

There’s an interesting article on it here;

As for breaking the deadlock, I am as equally at a loss as to how. Britain did it. Australia did it. The USA seems incapable of grasping the nettle without potentially sparking another civil war over it.

Sadly – as usual – The Onion has it exactly right:

Comment by Ian Gee

Interesting analysis Rob.
I have read that one thing seems to have been suppressed with relation to the majority of these shootings and maybe linked to what you are saying about isolation. The protagonists are mostly and allegedly taking psychiatric drugs for ADHD or depression. There has been speculation that these might be triggers in some if not most cases.
Certainly I don’t know the answer but a full and open look at that possibility has to take place don’t you think?

Comment by Rob Reid

Totally agree Rob.

Without going into too much detail, but a family member of mine suffers from mental illness and we’re incredibly fortunate we’re in a position to ensure he gets proper help … if left to the system, he would be packed off with a multitude of medication that doesn’t actually help him, just keeps him in ‘manageable limbo’.

I should point out I am not blaming the Dr’s and hospitals – not entirely – but the politicians who are on a mission to make medical care – like education – a profit centre rather than seeing it as a place where they can help their society develop, improve and grow so they can then go out and contribute to the nations growth.

Comment by Rob

thats almost smart campbell but the fucking fact remains they allow any fucker to buy guns and piss in the face of anyone who has lost someone by not changing a fucking thing. and dont get me started on the nra, they make isis look gentlemanly.

Comment by andy@cynic

That’s a very interesting perspective Robert. The level of gun crime is the one thing that makes me question bringing up my daughters here. You may think you live in a safe neighborhood but you just don’t know.
I think there are multiple reasons for it happening, including the ones Andrew has mentioned, but your hypothesis sounds very feasible to me and could even be more of a contributing factor than we initially imagine.

Comment by George

It was great to read you Rob. More surprising you would know a TV show from where I from in Quebec 19-2. Actually because of you, I realize the show was adapted in english too.

Comment by Thuymi @

Don’t forget the socialism thing isn’t just about “socialism”, it’s about fear/hatred of big government.

Comment by John

If you heard the commentary coming from the NRA today Rob, you’d want to buy a gun and blow them away. They’re a bunch of callous, sick bastards

Comment by DH

Just thought I’d post this as an alternative perspective. Well, not an alternative perspective, but a different way to have less incidents like the one in Oregon.

It’s interesting. There’s bit I question, but it’s definitely interesting.

I didn’t find it, Niko did … but as he has come to his senses and decided not to frequent here, I thought I’d post it on his behalf. Ha.

Comment by Rob

Is Charlton Heston dead? If he is I hope his personal eternal damnation is being shot in the balls for all eternity, while being made to watch the Colbys on loop

Comment by northern

No Queen reference? I knew sending you to that concert would make a difference.

By the way, it’s lovely to have you comment again, it’s been a while. I was worried you’d come to your senses.

Comment by Rob

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