Last night around 2:00 am I awoke thinking about yesterday’s blog and a passage to which I referred to the feeling of loss one can accumulate with age. This is what I wrote the feelings I had while lining up to race an 8K and realized that my time for winning the overall was long ago, and past:
But I’d have won that 8K race by a minute or so any number of times during my running career, in quite similar weather conditions. It would be so sweet to win these things again. I won’t lie. I feel like something’s been stolen from me in life.
That last sentence leans toward being embittered. But that’s not how I feel or think. In fact, the words that followed describe the fact that it is our specific job in life to not let bitterness begin to rule our consciousness.
But that’s how life goes. Life is a long series of giving things away. The truly successful learn how to go through that process gracefully, or take pleasure in helping others to achieve.
Spending a few days down in Florida put me in close proximity to the most recent school shooting. The governor is considering changes to Florida gun laws in response to the slaughter that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It was an embittered young man who stocked up on weapons and ammunition, carried them to the school he once attended, struck the fire alarm so kids would rush out of class, and murdered 17 of his former peers with a military-grade weapon that tears the organs of the body apart because that is what it was designed to do.
A few days ago I watched a video in which former President Barack Obama answered a question from an audience member about the Constitution and gun control. The guy asking the question was likely more than sixty years old from his appearance. He sported the classic white chin beard and somewhat portly physique of the retired and not doing that much but hobby stuff. And he was concerned about the President coming to take away his guns.
Obama made clear the purpose of gun control. “We’re not trying to take anyone’s guns away,” he said…and I paraphrase because he said this multiple times and in many different ways during his eight years in office. Yet every time there was a mass shooting the segment of the American population that constitutes fearful gun zealots would go out and buy even more weapons. Their brand of anxious logic apparently told them that each new mass shooting would be the one that turned the tide against the Wild West mentality that has taken over America.
I’ve had many quiet conversations about guns with guys like the one that stood up in the audience and tried to act rationally while addressing Obama about his fear of someone taking his guns away. I’ll leave that component of the argument right there, because that sense of loss thing, and fears about someone “stealing your rights” is the crux of everything going wrong with America today.
The version of “gun rights” that people now seek to defend are only a recent phenomenon in America. A few conservative court decisions backed by the NRA have turned gun legislation inside out and upside down. Now the selfish beneficiaries of those rights are not willing to back away from this perversion even when fourteen-year-old kids are being slaughtered in school hallways, concertgoers are murdered from the temple tower of a hotel and churchgoers are blasted as they commune in the House of God.
Did someone say something about “God-given gun rights?”
The gun lobby has even succeeded in preventing the Center for Disease Control from doing research about the effects of guns on American society. Think about that for a moment: the gun lobby won’t even let the nation’s leading medical research arm study and discover facts about the guns in this country. That says a bunch about the lie that the conservative interpretation of the Second Amendment has become.
That’s not just insanity. That’s a criminal level of obfuscation. Thousands of people are dying every year from gun violence, mass shootings and suicide. Now our own government has banned all reasonable research on the subject because the gun lobby and its kept politicians know the truth about gun violence would force the nation to come to terms with an addiction to guns that now vexes America. It is an ungodly and perverted brand of rights that America has chosen to adopt as law.
That’s right: our current gun laws and a patent political denial of their neo-liberal influence on society are an absolute perversion of our Constitution. For centuries the words “A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state…” were rightly interpreted to mean that the United States never wanted guns to get out of control.
But the gun lobby successfully sold a new version of the Second Amendment on the false narrative that the proliferation of guns in the hands of private citizens is equal to liberty. That’s a lie, of course.
Guns now likely outnumber human beings in America. But worse, when the legislation banning automatic weapons expired, it unleashed a beast that ensures police are outgunned on any street they patrol. Private citizens now have to fear for their lives in formerly safe places such as churches, schools, concert venues and anywhere else an embittered individual unleashes hell on those he knows or doesn’t know.
There is no sane person in America who can claim that anything about this pattern of embitterment and violence is constitutional. The United States Constitution was written by people who did not by nature trust the mob rule of the general populace. Nor did they embrace the vigilante instincts of the unregulated militia. That’s why the Second Amendment was written with a brake system in place, or the governor on an engine that might otherwise overheat.
That’s also why they formed a republic, not a pure democracy as a form of government. But our political system has been overrun by mob rule, and our current version of gun laws is a reflection of that.
So here we sit, with an embittered populace ruling the narrative and gun violence ruling the weekly headlines. All because the fashionably embittered authoritarian voting bloc fell for the promises made by a reality star President that has likely never really read the Constitution, much less understood its history in any ideological sense.
Instead he depends on a brand of false heroics to depict himself as a hero for American values. These are lauded by the mob of terminally sentimental and fearfully irrelevant members of the population who believe that whatever Trump says is more important that the office he occupies or the responsibilities it entails. This is salacious stuff, and a high risk when we consider that his position makes him Commander-in-Chief of the world’s most powerful military.
He apparently holds a high opinion of himself when it comes to his personal level of heroism and fitness. As reported across multiple sites on the Internet, this is what our supposed President said in response to the shootings in Florida:
“I really believe I’d run in there even if I didn’t have a weapon,” Mr Trump told a group of state governors gathered at the White House.
Mr Trump also said it was “disgusting” that officers reportedly did not confront the suspect on 14 February.
The massacre was the second-deadliest shooting at a US school.
“I think most of the people in this room would have done that, too,” said Mr Trump on Monday of his assertion that he would have rushed into the school.
He added: “You never know until you’re tested.”
This from a man not exactly known for his military service record, and a guy who received multiple deferments due to bone spurs.
Trump genuinely seems embittered and defensive whenever people question his qualifications, level of intelligence or bravery.
Yet those who support the man seem to do so in a fashion almost universally separated from any factual basis for his claims. The instinct seems to stem from rooting for what the man supposedly stands for rather than anything he has either said and done. So he’s free to lie about his wealth and success even when the facts of his multiple bankruptcies and fealty to Russian bankers becomes well-known. Even his elaborate combover hairstyle covers up a bald spot that had to be surgically addressed less his vanity and virility come into question. The man is the walking, talking embodiment of embitterment.
So the thing we know about Donald Trump is that he embraces the embittered as a political party unto its own. If people are pissed and need a voice about something, Trump is their man. So the guy who wants guns and feels like someone is going to take them away has Donald Trump as an ally. But the guy outside that school who had a gun yet knew he was massively outgunned just by listening to the mayhem inside? Trump doesn’t like that guy. The guy was no hero, for sure. But he may have sensed in some way that the situation truly was hopeless. That is the reality the gun nuts will never admit.
Captured and tortured
Trump didn’t like John McCain either, for getting captured and tortured. Was that McCain’s fault, or are the circumstances of war (or school shootings for example) often out of the control of an individual.
There many kinds of war. Donald Trump also doesn’t like women who recall his sexually abusive behavior. Nor does he like the porn stars who were paid by his lawyer to keep their mouths shut after The Donald had affairs behind the back of his former and/or current wives.
And Donald Trump doesn’t like accepting the idea that the Russians committed an act of war by interfering the election through which our President was pushed into power? He’s bitter about the very notion that such influence might have affected the outcome.
Embittered and in power
Thus Donald Trump is the perfect symbol for all those embittered souls who find solace against the idea that they’ve “lost” something in the America they think they once knew. Yet most of the Make America Great Again philosophy center arounds claims to “rights” that never really existed in the first place.
The nation has turned itself inside out looking for answers to the question of why mass shootings keep taking place, and the answer is simple: bitter, selfish people are never satisfied until someone pays a price for the pain they claim to own.