Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Birth of a nation


Yes, it's true:
I want to take
your guns.

No, I don't care
what they wrote
on a piece
of fine parchment
eons ago.

Because—you know what?
I've never worn a petticoat.

Or found myself bound
by a sermon or corset.

I didn't die
in childbirth
and neither did either 
of my kids—
not even the one
with the cord
wrapped around him.

Medicine didn't stop
at leeches or mercury.
Science wasn't squandered
on witchcraft and mediums.

Instead, Einstein stood up on
the shoulders of Newton
and drew us up with him,
where we were new to the universe—
and it was good.

Jonas Salk invented
a vaccine.
Maybe you've heard of it?
Saved millions.
(He gave away the patent, too;
What can I say? The man was a mensch.)

The whole world—
or very nearly!—
wised up and decided that the death
penalty was barbaric and that torture
was a stain on the human condition
we could no longer suffer.

That is our pedigree.
A civil society flowering 
as we grew the technology.
Evolution our Bible,
Darwin my father—
God love him.

It's the reason why roads don't smell
like horse shit anymore.
It's how come you don't have to worry
about stumbling out to the privy
in winter.
That's how women got the vote,
and blacks collectively spit 
on a three-fifth's citizenship.
It's not a bad thing—I swear it.

After all, is progress
not the most American
of traditions?
(Or is this just a story
we sing to ourselves?)

So no.
I'm sorry.

A musket is not
some AR-15 masturbatory

A militia is not
a thing serious
people talk about.

The words "well regulated"—
okay, we can keep that part,
if you like.

the rest of the world
will just keep staring,
shaking their heads
at poor, dumb . . .

And you know what?
It is embarrassing.
Our stupidity is a blight.
I am ashamed—
personally, I mean,
at the idiocy we condone.

But what the world might not know—
and what I hang my hope on today—
is that the majority of Americans
overwhelmingly agree.

We're just not allowed to matter,
not yet.


Because this is where we've been dragged:

Beholden to ignorance.

Married to a terrorist organization.

Shattered by the whim
of the meanest will.

Emptied of words,
carved up by suffering.

Sticking our victims
to graphs 
with bullets
where they will stay
the same age—
always, and forever.

Seeing in the face
of a good man
and President
a reflection of the carnage,
an allergy for platitude
a nausea of loss.

So yeah—
I'm going to take up my pen
and write the scumbags
who brought this upon us—
all those NRA brides
offering others' blood up as dowries
who've been trained, in their money,
to roll over like dogs
and hold them over the coals of their cowardice,
until the halls of our Congress
are howling with rage, boiling over with grief,
until they're all history
like the Redcoats and the Rebels 
before 'em—

Until we make them
move to our side.


I want your guns. 

All of them.

I hate too now, see.


Everytown is a great organization to support and give money to. So is the Brady Campaign


Obsidian Eagle said...

Powerful. It's good to hear some sense come of all this.

On the outside looking into the US, I agree most emphatically and say Amen sister!

the walking man said...

Very eloquent Jeff. Perhaps when ALL of society is tired of the daily carnage, as opposed to only that which makes national headlines, American culture will change.

Perhaps you are correct, come and take all of my guns, 4 at present, and I'll be safer and my wife will never be assaulted and hit by a stranger again.

Perhaps if you take all the guns from them who legally, at the moment, own them the rest of the world will stop buying our weapons.

Perhaps when my guns are confiscated our federal government will stop spending well over half our budget defending not only these shores but the lands of the other sanctimonious nations which decry our violent habits.

Perhaps nations with camera's on every corner and armed troops standing post on every entrance to public transportation, which still have not done all that magnificent of a job, will do better at stopping mass murders within their own borders.

Scotland, Australia both have very heavy gun restrictions--so they turn to knives while reminding the world of how peaceful they have become.

Kill off the NRA lobby, makes no difference to me, never listened to them anyway and to this day abhor their reactions to mass murders in Columbine HS and the others they decided to make a statement over. Charlton Heston holding his rifle above his head making his declaration about his cold dead hands was the height of ignorance--even after all these years of his hands being cold and dead.

Perhaps as if as I age I didn't become a juicier appearing target for them who would do evil unto my household, but are threatened to inaction when they see the crazy looking man double or triple carrying weapons, I would see there is no longer a need for them.

Perhaps if I could depend on the local or state government to ensure the tranquility of my environment as opposed to reacting after the fact of violent actions, I would disarm and disable my weaponry.

Perhaps if them who have threatened my with my own death would actually have come forth when I disarmed and offered to go with fists I'd have more respect, but cowards are not to be trusted.

Perhaps if the history of this nation beginning in the 16th century with the European empirical intrusion of Manifest Destiny, taking wealth wherever it is found as a right, our history would not be written in blood from that day to this.

Perhaps if that same government you wish to implore on the state of gun ownership, actually did the work of government in upholding Paine's "Rights of Men" criminality and murderous intent among a minority of the population would be abated. But government has abdicated from that roll, substituting it's own existence over the existence of the individual and collective right of the citizenry governed to exist.

Perhaps if my generation had not seen all of it's emerging leaders from Medgar Evers to RFK assassinated the past 50 years would have taken a different course. If the first reality TV show I ever saw was not the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald my thinking would not have evolved into what it is today.

Perhaps you are correct, it is not rocket science this American love of violence, but it is the evolved reality stretching from the middle to all 4 corners. Having an internal desire for love of peace and care for community will not make it so, and neither will removing guns, even if you could, for peace is not the evolved nature of humanity. Never has been, never will be.

Sarah Hina said...

Obsidian Eagle, thanks! I'm glad you stopped by and left a comment.

Mark, I don't know. Knife fights sound pretty fucking swell to me. By all means, let's go back to knives.

Not too many people killing themselves with knives. A gun in the house? Different story. Suicide much more probable, then, particularly for men.

Not too many toddlers and kids finding knives and killing each other, or themselves, with them, because their parents didn't lock them up. I assume you're safe with your guns; a lot of people aren't. And the most simple, basic things that could be done to improve the safety of guns are not being done, because the money isn't there for research. That's how powerful the NRA has become. We can't research safety.

Not as many abused women getting killed with knives, either.

Not a lot of mass knifings, far as I know.

A knife requires closeness and engagement. A gun is a God-like thing. It makes the smallest man big. To me, that's a problem, not a solution.

We're in agreement about killing off the NRA. Really--since this was a poem and not an actual proclamation--I was giving my gut-level, honest reaction to something I (perhaps irrationally) despise. As a reasonable person, I have no intention--if I had any power--to take away all guns. So please, keep all four of yours. Sounds like a lot to me, but I don't know your reality. The truth is it doesn't resemble mine in any way, or that of anyone I know.

I do react disproportionately to these mass shootings. I understand my fury could be well directed at any number of outrages and transgressions. I assure you it is.

But I don't believe I'm a naif to believe we can do something about the gun violence in this country. We already have in states that have enacted stricter gun reforms. These efforts were done politically, through the very government channels you distrust.

I'm following the evidence on this. And I think we're getting closer to the tipping point of our nation's tolerance for this sort of tragedy. And the outcome is a greater peace--if never peace itself.

the walking man said...

Sarah I have been confronted unarmed with both knives and guns, in every instance I preferred the gun in my face due to the hesitation of the one holding it (normally untrained cowards who believe intimidation causes fear), knives are easier to use and if the user knows how to use it, more deadly than guns. I, as you know live in the most violent area of a city prone to violence. It is not improving as the city gentrifies for the gentrification only pushes out them prone to robbery, car jacking and home invasion with the use of guns to areas like mine, which is now also the heroin sales center for the East side of the city.

I am empathetic but I admit a bit jaded about mass murders having witnessed a lifetime of murders in a place that regularly records over 300 per year, yes mostly by guns. what difference does it make if they are done all at once or over the course of time? The dead are still dead--only here most of them are forgotten within the next news cycle.

If you wish to stop the carnage do not go after the guns or even the cultural attitude. Go after the ammunition. All kinds of it. The free market has made it expensive but if all ammo for public use was sold at government run stores like Canada does their beer and liquor (LCCBO)guns held both legally and illegally would become fairly expensive to use and ammo would only be sold to them licensed to buy it. The downside to that is it would replicate the black market trade in illegal handguns.

As an aside I have 4 guns, 3 handguns and 1 pump shotgun, because I like the way each are different during the time I spend practicing at the range.

I had a gut reaction as well to the Orlando murders, same as I did to the little babe taken by an alligator this morning from a Disney beach--tragedy strikes again. Some tried to prevent both and failed but they tried, others ran which is the natural reaction. I fault neither. I am 6+ decades into this life and I am not in fear of losing my life. I have faced down danger from many different ways and means and lived through those situations all. One day, yes I will die as will every single soul on the planet.

One final thought on my local situation; the Chief of Police has twice now readily admitted that I (imperial) am my own defender. Citizens should train up, arm up and know the law regarding the use of lethal force. I have complied with those requirements (and yes all but 1 gun which I carry on me is put away, locked and empty when my grandson is in the house.)

I di not come lightly to the decision to own guns, it is fairly recent, but I have taken that decision with the weight it entails.

Charles Gramlich said...

Powerfully said. I would certainly like to see some reasonable gun controls. Magazine size limits, Eliminating assault rifles for casual use, better oversight on purchases, better waiting periods, limits on stockpiling of weapons. There is much that can be done, but hasn't.

Sarah Hina said...

Mark, I'm still for the knives: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/lgbt-israel-guns_us_575f0721e4b0e4fe5143407a

You stay safe in Detroit how you deem fit. All I know is that Americans own more guns than any other country, and we have the highest rate of gun violence as a result. I'd love for new laws to go after ammunition, too. Whatever helps. I understand that my perspective is limited by my own revulsion toward firearms. There's something about it that goes beyond statistics, or any of that. No, it's much more lizard-brained, I admit. A gun is meant to take a life. That's its actionable purpose. To see it celebrated as an emblem of masculinity (or even a new kind of "tough" feminism today)--or a stand-in for American history or culture--is profoundly depressing to me. Guns may be necessary at times: for defense and hunting, I'll concede. But they should always be taken up with the most extreme reluctance and caution, to my mind.

I think too many Americans are imagining an Armageddon that they're weirdly encouraging through their own paranoia. And it's having a snowball effect that's alarming. Gun stocks shot up after Orlando. They always shoot up after mass shootings. People start hoarding. That's a sign of a sick culture to me. And one I think is worth resisting.

Charles, amen. Thanks for adding your thoughts on the matter.