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A Rambling Post That Touches on Gun Control, Mental Illness and The Secret Of Life

January 9, 2013

I need to write something. I have a lot of things swirling around in my head, steam looking for the outlet.

Nothing of note happened to me this week. I’ve been spending a lot of time alone lately, probably too much time alone. I’ve been thinking, trying to process existence through my tiny inadequate brain. The thing about being alone, about cloistering yourself away from the rest of the world, is that you begin to feel as though you are not connected. I feel like I have become untethered. I have come loose from my moorings and as I drift away I ponder the receding earth, the familiar comfort of links that keep me from wandering and the ominous unknown I am floating toward. I am impassive as my perception shifts and my understanding of the world at large begins to diminish as the distance between us grows.

It is a world full of nonsense. It is a planet crammed full of humans, who can be distinguished from the animals by their overwhelming propensity to disagree with each other. They are so contentious by nature that even reality itself is the subject of debate. If you were to question each person individually about their perception of reality, you would find yourself with seven billion different versions of the truth, each varying from each other in such insignificant degrees that one might think the differences were inconsequential. But, no. The human clings to its reality with such fierceness that it is willing to breathe its last rather than admitting the validity of an opposing reality.

Relationships are formed on the basis of aligning realities. While one may not agree with all of the things another believes to be real, it is possible to find commonalities with most of the things. It is ironic then that the thing that one values most in a relationship, the exchange and sharing of realities, admitting that there is more to life than what you had previously perceived and believed, it is ironic that this is the thing we are most opposed to in life.

Most people, it seems, are more than happy to believe that their own perceptions and their own version of reality is the genuine article, with very little room for change. They are willing to accept others whose reality most closely aligns with their own. The realities held by these close relations, while accepted, are still looked on as inferior to the reality held by the individual. There is only one version of reality, while at the time there are seven billion. One must be willing to accept the realities of everyone if they are willing to accept their own.

Is there a single truth? Is there a reality? Or is reality merely perception?

You must think I’m being intentionally vague and overdramatic. You can see examples of what I’m talking about all over the world, with what, as I perceive it anyway, seems to be increasing frequency. As a nation we can’t even agree on basic human rights, how can we agree on anything?

The gun control debate is a perfect example of clashing realities, with neither side willing to admit the validity of the other.

 …

Do guns kill people?

Yes.

Do people kill people?

Yes.

Is it easier to kill people with guns?

Yes.

So how can I protect myself from crazed gunmen without a gun?

You probably can’t.

So shouldn’t I be allowed to have a gun?

Yes, probably, but let me ask you this: how do I know you’re not crazy?

I’m not.

If you are crazy I can’t really just take your word for it, can I?

I guess not.

So how about before I give you a gun, you just have to prove to me that you’re not crazy and you’re not going to kill anyone.

No. I shouldn’t have to prove to you that I’m not crazy. How do I know that you’re not crazy and just want to keep all the guns to yourself so that you can control everyone?

I’m not. I promise.

Well, I can’t really just take your word for it, can I? You prove to me that your not crazy, which I don’t think you’ll be able to do because I already kind of think that you might be crazy. And then I’ll prove to you that I’m not crazy. Or you could just give me the guns and we’ll end this inane and confusing conversation.

Uh, I don’t actually have guns to give you. This was a sort of hypothetical debate.

I’m going to kill you.

That’s not really helping your case.

What do you know anyway? You think it’s a good idea for only governments to have guns.

No, I don’t. I don’t think anybody should have guns.

Tell you what, how about you and whoever agrees with you, you all can have no guns. And me and everyone who agrees with me can have guns. Everybody’s happy.

But you’ll still have guns.

Yeah, I know, and you won’t. We both get what we want.

I think you’re missing the point.

I think you’re missing the point.

How can we agree on anything? It is like saying— ***TOPICAL REFERENCE ALERT (even though it’s a sixty year old reference and technically a “The Hobbit” joke would be more topical)*** –it’s like saying that in order to make Middle Earth safe from Sauron and his Ring, rather than Frodo destroying the Ring we should just make another one. Or saying the best way to combat nuclear weapons is to make as many nuclear weapons as possible. You know where there were a lot of guns and everybody felt safe? The Wild West. Even though I am not particularly fond of guns or feel that they are necessary, I do not begrudge the gun advocate his or her reality. If they feel safer with a deadly weapon at the ready, then they should be allowed to feel safe.

In my reality, the real issue, that no one seems to want to discuss, is mental illness. Are we responsible as a culture for the cultivation of people like James Holmes, Anders Breivik and Adam Lanza? Or are they the victims of a damaged psyche or an unfortunate combination of genetics? Are they wholly responsible for their actions or are we as a culture implicated? Is there a way to prevent tragedy or is it inevitable? If it is inevitable, can we, as a nation, accept that into our realities? If it can be prevented, why don’t we?

Humans are baffling. Sometimes I don’t even understand my own actions. I found myself flirting with the guy who brought me my coffee even though I have no interest. He flirted with me, and before I knew what was happening I flirted with him. My face got warm. When he left me to drink my coffee, I tried to make sense of what had just happened. I can’t even understand myself sometimes. It gives me little hope in coming to understand the rest of the world. And that is what I have been thinking about this week. Is that the secret of life? Is it realizing that you’ll never understand existence so you should just enjoy it while you can? Or is the quest for understanding essential to the journey?

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