So just what have we gotten for this great “right” of ours? More violent crime than just about any nation on earth, a militarized mentality that affects even young children, a pervasive fear and paranoia of our neighbors which inhibits solidarity among working people (hmmm,...sounds almost “conspiratorial”, doesn’t it?) and the simple observation by many that the fetishizing of weapons cannot be considered anything more than a sickened approach to weak interpersonal relationships and a fearful ego.
I have never understood this great USAmerican “right”. I have now lived almost 11 years in two countries where few have guns (Japan, Iceland) and visited many others where only sportsmen and hunters, outside of the countries armed forces, keep them. And no one thinks that, should things get bad, the Spaniards, the British, Italians or Greeks (the other European countries I’ve been to) wouldn’t rise up and drive their government or oppressors out. (They have all done it before)
Michael Moore’s SiCKO had many enlightening little moments but one I’ll never forget and identify with as an ex-pat living abroad was the scene where the African American woman said “In France the government fears the people, in the US, the people fear the government.” No amount of guns will change that dynamic until USAmericans find the courage to unite as a community, as a class apart from the ruling elites and regularly demand whatever it is they decide together is needed. And when they do they will get it—no matter how many guns “the government” has. To stop the engines of machinery, to prevent politicians from working (sic) to collectively strike and keep the vast apparatus of war from leaving their ports—these are the kinds of activities that demonstrate solidarity and can affect those very politicians we now rant about from the safety of our ergonomic chairs, behind expensive computers, locked away from face to face encounters with real people.
No, this fetish about the Second Amendment distorts and disgraces the notion of human solidarity, reducing it to a paranoiac obsession with what might happen if “they” come to take “our” rights away. Well here’s a sad truth. Americans gave away those rights. (And please, don’t write me telling me about how bad the Republicans are—I know it and you know it, but the Democratic congress has done nothing to stop them, nothing.) When we decide to get together as a people and demand those rights back, we’ll get them.
If you’re worried about a revolution, it won’t matter whether there are 300,000,000+ guns in the US of A, or whether the production, possession and distribution of instruments of death are banned all together. Because revolutions are always illegal. And maybe, just maybe, the Supreme Court will decide that, enough is enough, and determine that the Second Amendment has been horribly misconstrued. If they do, the families of all those victims in Nebraska might feel a little bit better. Then we can all get on with our lives, organizing and joining up with our neighbors to take back the government we ostensibly own. A revolution that will certainly succeed, if we but try. And maybe even “beat swords into ploughshares.”
Rev. José M. Tirado is a poet, priest and writer living in Iceland.
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