Monday, December 17, 2012
Mythmakers: Precept No. 9: Conduct Your Wars with Words, Not Weapons
I've been reading many blog posts discussing the school shooting in Connecticut since that terrible event took place and I had had no intention of contributing anything to the mix. However, it seems the right time for me to discuss the Mythmaker philosophy as it relates to the gun situation. Opinions are all over the map. The weapons advocates are yelling, "Arm all the teachers! Let anybody who is a threat be blasted into hell, because they're worthless, anyway! That's the way to stop violence!" [Really?] And the other side is yelling, "Legislation to control guns is the only answer! Enforce stricter controls! More background checks! Get rid of guns!"
Now, I tend toward the latter viewpoint, I confess. Personally, I have no use for guns and would like to see them out of private hands altogether. But achieving that goal is not practical. And what is the Mythmaker position?
(Just a quick parenthetical remark on the 2nd Amendment. I consider it antiquated. The Constitution was written over two centuries ago. We no longer need a "well-regulated militia" of civilians because we have a standing army. Even the Pope changes the laws of the Catholic Church from time to time. And that is supposedly "sacred" law, while this is man-made!)
Two of the Mythmaker Precepts which apply here are as follows:
No. 9: Conduct your wars with words, not weapons.
No. 15: Evolution has failed to structure the human organism for moderation; nevertheless the ability to recognize and strive for this virtue distinguishes human beings from other animals.
[Corollary: The human organism is not innately a peaceful animal, but its ability to recognize and strive for peace sets it apart from other animals.]
[Corollary: Moderation promotes peace.]
What is the situation in my future history? -- the period that comes after Global Unification in 2690? I'm going to quote from an earlier post of mine, which can be read in its entirety here:
"On my future Earth there are no nationalistic boundaries. Earth is united and while administrative regions exist, freedom of movement is universal. No passports, no visas. One currency. If you come from Scandinave and you want to work in Ostrailia, all you have to do is buy a ticket on a flyer, disembark, find a place to live, and go to work. People may be encouraged to move to certain parts of the planet in order to equalize the distribution of the population, but nobody is forced to do that. And it's true that everybody has an ID number so the Demographic Authority can keep statistics, but each individual has only one such number for the whole planet.
"There is no army because there are no countries to fight one another, but there is a Terrestrial Security Force (known as TeSeF [pronounced "Tessef"] in the 28th century. ... The primary function of TeSeF is keeping the peace -- police work, basically -- making sure that the planet remains a safe place to live. TeSeF members do have access to guns (which have become energy weapons by the 30th century), but they don't always carry them. Private gun ownership is forbidden. Now, I can hear the outraged screams, and I can hear people saying, "Boy, that situation is really ripe for abuse!" but the Security Force buys into its role and it works. And without guns in the general population, the opportunities for murder and mayhem are reduced (you never get rid of that sort of thing entirely)."
You see, after the planet nearly destroyed itself, both environmentally and through vicious warfare, people began to buy into the idea that we must have no more war. But wars can be fought between two people or between one person and a group, which is what happens in these mass slaughters that are becoming frighteningly common. So how do we stop or at least minimize this sort of personal war? How do we achieve Mythmaker peace and moderation?
First, I want to say, none of this can be achieved with a snap of the finger or by yelling that we MUST DO SOMETHING. It's a bit like the decline in tobacco use or the partial elimination of racism -- it requires a social and cultural attitude change, and that sort of change comes very slowly, through example, through education, through (regrettably) the natural attrition of the older, more rigid elements of society. People have to be taught to settle conflict through words -- through talking --and not through warfare, through violence. And unfortunately, the trend right now seems to be in the other direction -- toward a culture that worships violence in all forms -- that makes games and entertainment out of explosions, car crashes, displays of bloodletting and exploitation and, most of all, shooting of firearms.
It could be that we really must endure a collapse of civilization before we get our heads on straight and permit the moderation that Precept No. 15 discusses to gain the upper hand and give us a peaceful world.
However, there are some things we can do right now. We can start with small steps. Nobody in this country, or perhaps in the world, would allow the government to confiscate all the millions of guns that are in private hands. We really would have a war on our hands, wouldn't we? -- if the government tried to do something like that! But we could pass legislation to ban future sales and possession of the type of weapon that shoots multiple rounds -- the assault rifles and handguns. If you have to stop to reload after 6 shots, you can't kill as many people.
One of the most fearsome aspects of guns is that they kill at a distance. If Adam Lanza had gone into that school armed with a machete and a baseball bat, could he have killed 26 people in a few minutes? I doubt it. If he could have even gotten in without shooting out the glass, he might have killed three or four or possibly a few more than that, but somebody surely would have taken him down before he killed 26. Instead, I believe I heard that those guns were in his home; he had easy access to them. Nobody should have assault-type multiple-round-shooting guns in their home, even if they lock them up. If somebody is breaking into your house, do you need to spray them with 50 bullets? Six would do the job, even if you were a novice and had horrible aim.
The next small thing that could be done is to ban the production for commercial sale of assault weapons that shoot multiple rounds. Let the hunters have their hunting rifles and let the police have the weapons they need to keep the peace but keep careful track of those weapons. Make possession of guns a privilege rather than a right. Close most of the gun stores. Make them like the medical marijuana dispensaries; space them out at wide distances. Make people have to go farther to reach them. Maybe make background checks mandatory when people buy ammunition. And keep careful guard on military weapons (since we're centuries away from eliminating warfare). They should be destroyed when their use in warfare is finished and never allowed to enter general circulation.
Then let these changes settle in. Keep it gradual. Don't try to solve all problems at once, with sweeping, extreme, hysterical legislation (moderation, remember, moderation!) People have to get used to change. After a number of years, people will not only be saying, "Remember how people used to go around with smelly cigarettes hanging out of their mouths? Wasn't that a nasty thing? How did we put up with it?" -- they will also be saying, "Remember when everybody thought they needed to tote a gun in their pocket for self-defense? What a scary scenario that was! How did we ever put up with it?"
You start small. Nothing changes right away. But a century from now the world would be a safer place. In the meantime, you educate, you teach people to talk and not fight, to work in a rational and responsible manner, to take responsibility for their own actions, to recognize that all humans are the same species and have the same right to live an unthreatened life.
And one additional note: We need to recognize what is stated in Precept No. 5: "Humans will never succeed absolutely in achieving these goals; nevertheless striving for right action is its own purpose." Humans will always be imperfect and that includes those imperfections called mental illness. Compassion is the key here. You don't lock up every person who exhibits aberrancy -- that would be to return to medieval times. But it isn't compassionate to keep guns where unstable or even just immature people can get their hands on them. It makes killing too easy. Do everything possible to minimize the availability of guns and terrible events like those that happened in Connecticut and Aurora and Phoenix and elsewhere will surely become rare rather than commonplace.
Click here to see all my Mythmaker posts, in reverse order.