Sunday, July 10, 2016

Trust Issues


I find it ironic, but sadly so, that both sides of the gun control debate share one thing in common: We don't trust anybody. At all. Answer me this, though. If you shoot first, how are you ever going to know the true character of someone? As I write this we have not only a recent mass shooting event in our collective consciousness, but an entire population of people in fear for their lives from authority figures we were once taught were our friends and protectors.

I am reminded of one of the tag lines from the television show The X-files: "Trust No One." Well, we're there, folks. Not only that, but we now assume the worst about each other until proven otherwise. The problem is, you cannot prove yourself if you are wounded or dead.

Many will point to the National Rifle Association as the villain in promoting gun ownership and the proliferation of those weapons. Are they not merely capitalizing on our growing distrust of our neighbors, the government, law enforcement, immigrants, other races, and those with different lifestyles? The media may be the catalyst in all of this. How many times can you hear about crime after violent crime, night after night on the evening news, before you start getting paranoid? Heck, we have entire television networks now devoted to covering crime twenty-four seven, three sixty-five.

Nothing like this kind of violent epidemic happens in a vacuum, or even from a single incident. We have the "military-industrial complex" which would be better called the "military-technology" complex today; but we've since added the "industrial-prison complex" with privatization of prisons and a larger incarcerated population than history has ever known....anywhere. Is it any wonder the powers-that-be have no interest in stopping crime? They cannot actively promote it, so the next best thing is to just ignore it, or kill two birds with one stone and throw up their collective hands and gesture to the gun lobby. We're all on our own and that suits the suits just fine. More gun sales, more inmates, more money.

Fear of terrorists is icing on the cake. They are actually more convenient scapegoats than they are a real domestic threat because yeah, Homeland Security has to do something to justify its bureaucratic existence. They do seem to be increasingly efficient at thwarting plots, but still at the cost of liquid-free airline flights, and pat-downs beforehand. The greatest price we pay, though, remains an eroding trust of our fellow man and woman. We are driven to, and oppressed by, suspicion, constantly reminded to assume the worst about a lonely bag in the terminal, or the passenger in a turban.

The propaganda is not limited to the airport of course, and the incessant refrain is to depend on "product" as the solution. Build a wall. Install the alarms and surveillance cameras. Take up arms. Prepare to defend yourself because everyone is out to get you. The only people out to get you are those in charge of the marketplace. They fleece you daily, and legally, feasting on your desire for comfort and security, and your weaknesses that stem from fear and loathing.

As long as profit is to be made from pitting average citizens against one another, the tyrants of the economy will continue to undermine our social, cultural, and institutional fabric. They may pull strings politically, but they are still at our mercy as consumers. We can still refuse to buy into their "logic," their merchandise, their system.

It is probably going to take a "Berlin Wall moment" to force change. An act of defiance, that is what we need now. Someone will think of something that goes beyond an ordinary protest, and the dominoes will fall. It won't be our government "leaders" who do anything. They have proven themselves incapable time and time again.

For our part, we have become too lazy, too distracted, and far too willing to "go with the flow" as dictated by authority figures. It is John Carpenter's film They Live, come to life. There is not even anything subliminal anymore in the commands to consume, obey, submit, conform, stay asleep, and shut up. We are wearing blinders of our own making and it is time to take them off, take up love guns, chew gum, and kick booty. I, for one, am all out of gum.