To all of my friends who must have gun control now!
Let me start by reinforcing this: I’m one of you.
If you had to put me in one camp or another—“guns for everybody!” or “gun control now!”—it’s not even close. When guns are used for anything besides sport or to provide needed food, they are used from ego, which is always misguided.
But I also can’t waive the “Gun control now!” flag.
As I’ve been watching my Facebook feed (which is apparently what we do in 2015), every-time I see something posted with, “Gun control now!” (or something identical), I always think to myself, “…and then what?”
I mean, I think I get what everyone’s trying to say. We’re trying to say that we want to live in a respectful society where we don’t feel the need to punish each other or get mad at each other or fight with each other or bully each other. I think what we’re trying to say is that we want to live without fear that someone might turn a pleasantly normal day into chaos, where the thought of guns as a solution to problems never even enters our minds.
I think we’re trying to say that we want freedom from our fear.
And this is a wonderful thing to want. This is 100% what I want.
But how do we get there from here? How do we go step-by-step, concretely and efficiently, to the end point where guns are gone and we’re not fighting each other?
This is what I’m interested in. Anything else is just bitching.
Mind you, I’m not interested enough to actually start generating these ideas–it’s not my passion. I find my catharsis in other things, like writing and teaching yoga and painting on glass and stuff. I bow myself to those who stomach this topic with enough enthusiasm that they find themselves passionate about politics or activism or sociology or progressive movement of any kind. If this is you, you are creating the landscape that we’re living in—the one that allows me to write and teach yoga and paint on glass and stuff.
I bow to you because if you aren’t the one to figure this out, then we’ll have Donald Trump figuring it out for us, and we all know why that’s absurd.
So, if you’re that kind of person—the one who has a genuine interest in looking at these kinds of things and being a harbinger for social change—please, go and do this with all your heart. Please map out 600 options for our future, and get nerdy with them, and innovate your ass off about the times we’re living in.
Be practical, test your ideas, take what works and throw out what doesn’t, fight for what is fair to everybody, not just some people.
And if you’re like me—someone who feels the weights of our struggle, but isn’t interested in working on our cultural infrastructure—then I guess the only thing we can do is be supportive of ourselves and of each other in the most inclusive way possible. It’s the only way we’ll actually get out of this with love in our hearts and enjoyment in our memories.
So when CNN posts our next scar, call the shooters “assholes” for five minutes, sure, but then let it go. Start thinking about what kind of day that guy was having that it unfolded the way it did. Do this not because it is merciful to him, but because it is merciful to us. The choice to be a gunman is not representative of the gunman, it is representative of the world we all share. (I saw a Steve Jobs quote two days ago that I love and have already used several times: “If you define the problem correctly, you almost have the solution.”)
We cannot look at this as if we are against someone (or someones). There is no “us” and there is no “them.” There is only “we.” Anytime we are looking at the world as if it’s broken into separate pieces with separate people doing separate things, we are looking at the situation through the prism of our own perspective. And when we choose to believe that our perspective is reality, we are also being violent, because then we have to fight for our viewpoint.
The only reason a gunman picks up his weapon is because he believes that the way he’s looking at the world is correct, and he believes that shooting a gun is a correct form of action. In other words, he believes that his perspective is true, the same way that we often believe our perspectives are true. We are not different from each other. And this kind of invisible, internal violence is the only type of violence that we can actually address, because it’s the only thing that gets real results. Anything else is just grasping at straws.
I think the big thing we’re not talking about is that ultimately, no one’s getting out of this alive. So while the events may horrify us, we must be careful not to call death a tragedy. Death is, after all, just a perspective—to the Universe, nothing is gained when a human is born, and nothing is lost when a human dies. We must instead learn to live our lives right now with as much presence, love and enjoyment as we can, because we are getting a huge reminder right now of the biggest rule of life: it’s never guaranteed, and it’s definitely not guaranteed forever.
Love yourself, love each other.
If you need support, ask for it. If you can give support, give it.
Author: Brentan Schellenbach
Editor: Renee PIcard
Image: Wiki Commons