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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

thepete's take: America is a Fearist Country

How does it feel to live in an fearist country?

That's right--whether any citizen of another country wants to say it to your face or not, if you're an American, you believe in fearism.  As Americans, we go on and on about how we need guns to keep us safe from a potentially abusive government, never quite realizing that the US government is supposed to be run for the people, by the people.  So, if it works the way it's supposed to, why are we afraid of our own people abusing us?  And why do we need to cling to our arm-bearing rights  with the ferocity of an actual bear?

Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, likes to remind us from time to time about how many threats we American citizens face, beyond just an abusive government.  Here is a cutting from a 2014 article I found quoting a speech LaPierre gave:
"We know, in the world that surrounds us, there are terrorists and there are home invaders, drug cartels, carjackers, knockout-gamers, and rapers and haters and campus killers, airport killers, shopping mall killers, and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse our society that sustains us all."
And a LOT of people agree with that guy.  So, guns.  Guns are the answer for many Americans.  Even to many of those who don't want to ever own a gun, it's OK for guns to be generally legal.  Because, you know, the 2nd Amendment, and because of that thought in the back of your head that the 2nd Amendment is there for a reason.  It's because we might need it some day. And what that really means is that you think guns trump everything.  Even the deaths of 49 gay people.  Even the deaths of 20 children.

Every single one of these deaths was preventable and avoidable.  You do understand that, right?

America already wages war on an absurd number of countries.  I suppose it makes sense that we wage it on ourselves, too.  We are a country of self-loathers who don't have the spine to face the things we hate about ourselves but have no problem hating others!  

We hate religions, political leanings, sexual preferences, we even hate different skin colors.

How stupid is that?

Turns out, it's pretty stupid.

Recently an African American actor, during a pretty inspiring speech at an awards show, made a reference to "this invention called Whiteness."  He's right.  Whiteness is an invention in every way that race is an invention.  Doctors and scientists agree that race isn't a thing.  And yet, so many use skin tone and the myth of race to feel better about themselves by pretending some sort of divine power over others usually derived from their own religion.  But is it fair to judge others on religious grounds at all?

Religions are essentially the way you were raised.  They're part of how we are taught to look at the world.  They are intrinsically part of how we make decisions.  When we look at another person's belief system  as it is used to criticize something in our religion or in our culture, we forget that we are just as brainwashed--SORRY--we are just as trusting of our religion as they are of theirs.  Us criticizing Islam is just like Muslims criticizing Christianity.

On some level we think "They're wrong!  Their beliefs are wrong!" without realizing that they are saying the exact same thing about us.  Some of us and some of them believe that they are right and the other is not, despite any rational thought on the matter suggesting that, in fact, neither is right.  This is that "fear of facing ourselves as flawed humans" thing I mentioned earlier.  We don't want to admit that we might be wrong about ourselves or our god.  So we focus on the "other-ness" of our opponents and thus feel justified when we say things like "They hate us!  They're going to kill us!  We need to kill them first!" and forget that the whole of religion is a choice--on both sides.

We can choose to negotiate with them--we can remind the extremists (and ourselves) that religion is a choice.  You don't have to follow every rule in your religion.  Hell, you don't even have to believe in a religion.  All the time, I see people believing in some parts of their religion and not others.  The Bible is a highly sexist book that doesn't seem to have a problem with slavery or all manner of violence.  This quietly, but definitively, condones (some might suggest encourages) our violence against "the other."

So, let's kill our enemies.  Shoot them dead.

Even if they are American citizens--let's kill them with guns if they are here in the country, bombs and missiles via drones if they are outside of it.

Race (as non-existent as that biologically is) and religion (as flawed as all religions are) aren't even the only criteria for wanting to shoot someone dead, here in America.  Are you gay?  Do you like to love people of your own gender?  Well, sorry, you are a target to some of your fellow citizens.  

To a certain degree, we all want to kill someone (or several someones) at some point in our lives.  We are trained from birth to believe that it's OK to kill in certain circumstances.  Our media reinforces this.  Our toys reinforce this.  Our patriarchal society reinforces this.  And, as I've mentioned, we really hate to face our own demons.  All that, even while people continue to die.

I'd point out how we're really just cowards, literally afraid of our own shadows and that our love of our guns is really just because we are constantly afraid that we will need them.  I'd point out how cruel we are to our own people (a good number of which suffer and even die because of our lax gun laws).  I'd point out how the people of other countries point, and laugh, and shake their heads, and judge us for our inability to recognize that we are like children playing with matches.

I would point all that out to my fellow American citizens, but like I said, they really don't like to take honest looks at themselves.  If you're an American and are still reading this, I would be surprised.  And that's what I'm getting at.  I do have hope that we can change but I don't have hope that we will.  If you're an American and you're still reading this, maybe I should reevaluate that conclusion...


  1. Interesting take. (But then you are preaching to the choir here and I am a bit biased.)