Archive for July 5th, 2022

Gun Flag

If we could learn to look instead of gawking,
We’d see the horror in the heart of farce,
If only we could act instead of talking,
We wouldn’t always end up on our arse.
This was the thing that nearly had us mastered;
Don’t yet rejoice in his defeat, you men!
Although the world stood up and stopped the bastard,
The bitch that bore him is in heat again.

Bertolt Brecht, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui

The Great American Fourth of July.

Barbecues. Fireworks. Parades. Flags waving.

Mass shootings. Bodies in the streets.

I am not just speaking of the horrific scene at the Highland Park, Illinois parade. Over the long holiday weekend, the four days from Friday until yesterday, there were 16 mass shootings that resulted in 17 deaths and 97 wounded citizens. That doesn’t even count the two police officers shot last night at the Philadelphia fireworks display.

[ Late addition: Gun violence spiked over Fourth of July weekend, with shootings reported in nearly every U.S. state that killed a total of at least 220 people and wounded close to 570 others, according to the Gun Violence Archive.  Mass shootings get our attention but the underlying carnage that we just accept as somehow being normal is even more staggering]

Can it get any more American than this?

I can’t say I am shocked. I think anyone who says they are shocked and surprised is being a bit disingenuous. I am no psychic nor prognosticator, but to anyone who has been paying attention during the past few decades this seemed to be totally predictable and practically unavoidable.

It is what we have chosen to be. It is the result of choices we have made and of the power we have ceded to people who only seek to serve themselves and their monied constituency– not we the people. We have too often placed our trust in those not worthy of our trust

It’s the result of our inability to think for ourselves and our easy acceptance of any information, however farfetched or wrong it might be, that confirms our own beliefs and biases. This leaves us susceptible to falling into cult-like behavior.

The cult of guns. The cult of trump. The cult of personality and fame. The cult of money and power. The cult of conspiracy. The cult of religion. The cult of race supremacy. The cult of ignorance that despises and distrusts science and education.

The cult of victimization. This might the most potent of all in that it enables all the others. All the followers of those other cults– and those are just the ones that came immediately to mind– share a sense of victimization. They feel they have been wronged in some way and that others are responsible for everything that has gone wrong in their lives.

Answers? I got nothing this morning, folks. This has been building and building over the decades and there are no easy answers. No quick fixes.

It will take a wide societal change that requires real effort and sacrifice from each of us. And I don’t think we, as selfish people who always seek the easy way out, are up to that.

Will we ever be up to the task?

I just don’t know. But the odds seem set against it.

We possess so much potential for good in this country, yet we seem set on squandering it at every turn. We could be a beacon of hope for the rest of the world but instead we opt for serving as both a horrorshow and a laughingstock.

It leaves me just bone tired of it all, both its senselessness and its inevitability. You and I both know that some other event like this will happen again in the coming days, maybe three or four times. And we’ll go through the same bullshit with the hope that someone will suddenly unveil the easy answer that has evaded us for so long.

Brace yourselves: That ain’t happening, folks.

Wish I had something more hopeful to say this morning. But things need to be said if only to say that I did so. That job, that futile task, is done and I will venture back to the refuge of art tomorrow, I promise.

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