Tag Archives: guns

“American Gods: The Moment of the Storm” by Neil Gaiman: Issue #5

Look, this is not a good country for gods. My people figured that out early on. There are creator spirits who made the earth and so we say thank you. But we never built churches. The land was our church. It gave us salmon and corn and buffalo, and wild rice. You follow that river for a way, you’ll get to the lakes where the wild rice grows. You go far enough south, there are orange trees, lemon trees, and those squishy green things… avocados. What I’m saying is that America is like that. It’s not good growing country for gods. They’re like avocados trying to grow in wild rice country.

It’s a strange paradox that a country with a strong fundamentalist movement would not be fertile ground for gods. To me it seems more like we choose to collectively idolize the wrong things, or choose our gods for the wrong reasons. We love our distractions, we love our teams, we want to be a part of a community, we want to be freed from our guilt and shame, and so on. America is a country of “God, Guns, and Guts.” Personally, I have a difficult time reconciling those three things in my life.

There is a palpable feeling that we are on the cusp of a major global shift, that this is the “moment of the storm.” It will be curious to see how things play out in the next few years.

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“Tao Teh Ching: Chapter 42” by Lao Tzu

Image Source: YouTube

Tao gave birth to One,
One gave birth to Two,
Two gave birth to Three,
Three gave birth to all the myriad things.

All the myriad things carry the Yin on their backs and hold the Yang in their embrace,
Deriving their vital harmony from the proper blending of the two vital Breaths.

What is more loathed by men than to be “helpless,” “little,” and “worthless”?
And yet these are the very names the princes and barons call themselves.

Truly, one may gain by losing;
And one may lose by gaining.

What another has taught let me repeat:
“A man of violence will come to a violent end.”
Whoever said this can be my teacher and my father.

As I began reading this passage, my mind was spinning with mystical symbolism. The first stanza, in my interpretation, presented occult idea of emanation as expressed in kabbalah, in Plotinus, in Christian mysticism, and so forth. I immediately began formulating my blog post in my mind, but as I reached the end, I knew that I would have to shift the focus of this post.

“A man of violence will come to a violent end.” How true. And it is a message that has been told over and over: “Those who live by the sword, will die by the sword.” “We reap what we sow.” “Instant karma’s gonna get you.” And yet, we still read about mass shootings on a regular basis. Violence and weapons proliferation have never been successful deterrents against aggression. And violence is not limited to gun violence against other people; it is also violence against our planet and the environment. If we continue to decimate the earth, we will ultimately decimate ourselves. We will reap what we sow. Personally, I would rather sow something beneficial.

Thanks for reading my musings. May you do great things.

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The X-Files: Annual 2016 – “Illegal Aliens”

XFiles_Annual2016

Once a year, IDW publishes an annual special edition X-Files graphic novel, which is a little longer, a little better quality, and double the price. This year’s is a little on the silly side, set in New Mexico and playing off the pun between undocumented immigrants and visitors from outer space. There is nothing groundbreaking in this book, and nothing deeply thought-provoking; it’s just a whimsical story, fairly well written and illustrated, that is kind of fun to read, but that’s about it.

The illegal alien pun is kind of cliché for me, so honestly, I found that the least interesting. The thing that I found the most entertaining was Mulder’s observations on pro-gun conspiracy nuts.

Mulder: I’ll make it. I was doing some research. Have you heard of the Jade Helm 15 conspiracy theories?

Scully: Half-baked government haters who thing the government wants to take their guns?

Mulder: Right, emphasis on half-baked. But there’s something about it that bothered me. When we put on a tinfoil hat because we think the government is trying to invade our brain, we’re assuming a certain level of sophistication, right? We believe we’ve progressed as a civilization to where the next great existential danger will come from threats beyond our conception.

Scully: Are you arguing on message boards again?

Mulder: Yes, but hear me out, Scully. These people, they think, they really think, the government is going to use a coordinated training exercise in the southwestern United States as cover to take away everyone’s guns. Logistical concerns aside—when did our conspiracies become so lazy? Have we fallen so far that the grand plan to enslave the human race is eliminating the threat of small-arms fire?

I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself as I read this, especially considering all the social media chatter about how “if Clinton gets elected she is going to take away all our guns.” It’s the same thing you hear about every Democratic candidate. It’s never happened, and yet the fear and myth persists.

Anyway, if you are an X-Fan, you’ll probably get a kick out of this book; if not, you will see it as nothing more than a waste of $8, which could have been better spent on a latte and a defrosted piece of coffee cake from Starbucks.

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House of Penance: Issue 04 – The Addictive Power of Violence

HouseOfPenance_04

I really like this series and its exploration of issues of sin and atonement. The artwork is dark and surreal and the writing is sparse yet moving. But this installment in the series also explores the related issue of addiction, specifically addiction to violence.

My favorite definition of addiction is that it is the constant searching for something outside yourself to change the way you feel within. For this reason, you can become addicted to anything that elicits a powerful feeling inside, and violence can certainly fall into that category. I have known people in my younger days who were addicted to the adrenaline rush of violent behavior, starting fights for no reason other than the thrill of the fight.

In this issue of the graphic novel, there is a scene where several men who are serving their penance for violent acts discover a room that houses confiscated weapons waiting destruction. The men stare through the glass with a deep longing in their eyes, like the recovering alcoholic struggling with internal conflict as he stares through the window of a liquor store.

If we honestly look at our society—the films we watch, the books we read, the games we play—we are forced to admit that we are a society that is addicted to violence, and yet we act surprised and abhorred when we hear stories of people actually committing violent acts. Now I am not condoning the censorship of violence in the arts, just as I would not condone banning alcohol, but we need to acknowledge that violence, just like drugs, is addictive and remain vigilant with ourselves.

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House of Penance: Issue 03

HouseOfPenance_03

With all the debate about guns in the US right now, there is a quote from this installment that really resonated with me.

You entered this house, Mr. Peck, on your own volition. You stay here because you want to. Because you need to. Each “blam” of a hammer reminds these workers of the blood they have spilt, be it innocent or guilty. Listening to the sound of a gun twenty-four hours a day is their penance—for embracing all that a gun has to offer.

There is poetic justice here, and I cannot help but think of the levels of Dante’s Inferno. We each must answer for our actions, and the punishment we face is often that of our own creation.

There is a lot going on in the world right now. Change is everywhere, and so is tension. I feel like we are on the threshold of something huge. I hear the constant drumming of the hammers as our new reality is being forged.

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House of Penance: Issue 02

HouseOfPenance_02

Wow, this is really a dark and disturbing tale. The imagery feels like it was conjured out of a nightmare. Tendrils of pain, regret, and suffering writher from floorboards and cracks, entwining individuals and drawing them into the darker realms of despair and insanity. Visually, this is some of the most psychologically disturbing material I have ever seen. But you just can’t look away.

There is one great section in this issue where Sara is melting down guns and pouring the molten metal into molds to create hammers. The accompanying text is reminiscent of something you would read in Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil.

From darkness comes light. Tools of death birth tools of life. From destruction… comes construction.

I am really enjoying this so far. If any of you are also reading this graphic novel, I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

Cheers!

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Second Amendment to the US Constitution

Constitution

I generally try to avoid controversy on my blog, but it’s often not possible. Today, I decided to read the actual text of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, which is the subject of much debate in the wake of too many mass shootings in this country.

The actual text reads as follows:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

(Source: http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/second_amendment)

It is important to note that the text is constructed as a single sentence. The implication, then, as I understand it from a grammatical perspective, is that all the clauses that comprise the sentence are inherently connected to each other.

“A well regulated Militia” is for me the key to this amendment and is most often glossed over. The purpose of individuals being guaranteed the right to “keep and bear Arms” is solely for the purpose of maintaining a state militia, not for personal use. Also, the text clearly states that the bearing of arms should be “well regulated.” Unfortunately, I do not see anything that even vaguely resembles “well regulated” restrictions applied to the ownership of firearms. It seems to me that common sense legislation requiring proper licensing, training, and registration should be the very least in meeting the constitutional requirement of being “well regulated.”

I’m sure that many people will disagree with my interpretation, and that’s fine. In a democracy, vigorous debate is not only encouraged but required. But debate also implies compromise. It’s my hope that both sides can come together and agree on some common-sense changes to current policy that is in line with the Second Amendment but also serves to protect the citizens of this country, because isn’t that the ultimate goal of the US Constitution, to protect the citizens?

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