don't read this if you're an American

October 02, 2017  •  4 Comments

I know that this blog isn’t read by many people, and that is by design, since I have gone out of my way to keep it as under the radar as possible. As such, it’s a spot where I can comfortably post poetry and art without worrying about ‘putting myself out there’ and having my words or works shared and exposed to the eyes of strangers, for whom I have an inherent distrust.

I try, I really try hard, to stay out of the political fray, which seems to have become even larger than politics and embedded itself in our very society, our culture, even our psyche. On every issue, we are exhorted –perhaps even obligated – to cleave to one side or the other.

I awoke this morning to the news of the shooting in Las Vegas. If that in and of itself was not bad enough, I watched on social media as friends jumped into the fray, predictably, with the appropriate factionalized responses and catchphrases. Most of them were railing against the NRA, demanding how many more massacres it will take to put an end to the gun problem, just as they have been demanding for years now, after Sandy Hook, after Umpqua, after Charleston, etc, etc, etc. On the other side, the NRA apologists were just as vociferous, standing firm and unwavering behind the rights granted by the Second Amendment, and arguing speciously that the only way to stop bad guys with guns is having good guys with guns. Saying that drunk driving kills more people than guns do. And so on.

I don’t know if Americans realize how alien a concept it is, this proliferation of gun ownership among the general public. Are they also ignorant of the statistics of death by guns in the U.S.A. versus most other nations in the world? Can they not see the correlation?

As a Canadian, I can’t really speak to the peculiarly American mentality regarding guns. What I can say is that when I travel to the States, I experience a visceral sense of unease as soon as I cross the border. I feel unsafe. I sense that I’ve left a safe haven behind. Conversely, when I return to Canada, I am invariably surprised by the sense of relief that floods in, because my unconscious no longer has to worry about guns.

It’s the little things, but they are everywhere. Not just the sight of the ubiquitous gun and ammunition shops. It’s about going to a gas station in Anytown and having to negotiate payment via a bulletproof glass window and a tray that is passed through a gap at its base. It’s about visiting landmarks and museums, such as the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, and seeing decals on the entry doors stating (requesting optimistically?) ‘’firearm-free zone’’. It’s about worrying that accidentally cutting off a driver on the highway or offending someone in a restaurant could end with a bullet. It’s about being aware that in all likelihood 50 percent of the people that you cross paths with may have a gun on their person.

America was born of violence; the gun has always had a role, historically, be it the Revolutionary War or the taming of the West. America has come by its cowboy reputation honestly and overtly, and it has become a world power whose strength and courage cannot be doubted. Manifest Destiny and all that. But a hell of a lot of blood was spilled to get there. And the character thusly forged is one that cannot be disentangled from the gun. They are one and the same. The milk cannot be un-spilled.

This morning, something changed in me. I lost the sympathy that erstwhile I had. America has made its bed. And now it may lie down in it.

 

 


Comments

John(non-registered)
As I commented on a blip.. There never has and never will be a reason for a civilian to have a semiautomatic weapon.. especially in under 15 minutes almost all can be modified to fully automatic. Oh and yes in America in many states you can legally own a fully automatic too.. I would understand if you saw Vancouver Island but stayed north of the border on your upcoming vacation.. Idaho is an open carry state.. Many times I've seen people carry a handgun in restaurants, grocery stores and..

Sadly I have learned to accept this carnage.. I agree with both sides to a point.. My cousin hunts to feed his family in Montana, I have gone target and trap shooting.. A fun way to spend an afternoon.. and yet I also remember traveling up in the Northwest Territories of Canada.. Where they recommend a SINGLE shot rifle as protection from the animals while camping.. A easy thing for an American to bring across the border..

Also just to let you know I have a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Fingerprinted, photographed, two background checks and.. I used to belong to a gun club. Because of my career choice I have sold my weapons but still have the permit just in case..

What I agree with you the most is the vitriol on the web.. no down the middle anymore. my way or the highway.. Including a president that said "he could shoot someone and not lose voters" America is starting to reap what it sow's.. I just feel sorry for the innocent bystanders and rest of the world..
Anna(non-registered)
The US is the most incredible of contradictions. A place of poetry and grace and culture, and hatred and racism and violence. Though I know this could be said of any country, somehow it seems so much more marked there.
Beth(non-registered)
I read it anyway. :)
As an American who can trace my roots back to ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War, I understand why the Second Amendment was written. It was necessary at the time. However, almost 250 years later, the majority of guns are no longer used for self-protection or to hunt for food to feed the family, but to kill people whenever someone feels like it, even for no reason. Last week a 2-year-old toddler playing with a gun left out accidentally shot his own daddy. There is no reason for this. We have repealed amendments before, and it's time to repeal this one. Unfortunately, the gun lobbyists are loud and line the pockets of politicians well, so this will not be easy.
Alison(non-registered)
It has been (another) very sad day. I also feel a sense of unease when I go to the States and am always waiting for the other shoe to drop. For the past few years we have avoided travelling to and through there whenever possible.

I recognize that tree and love it. The colours and textures make come alive.
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