My normal stream of conscious has left me today. I find myself darting here and there just trying to make sense of our world. I could dwell on Las Vegas but the media has parsed every piece of pathos and investigation to the nth degree. As usual it is a futile attempt to make it go away by trying to come up with some sort of an answer. The bottom line is there are people out there who are sick, evil or both.
The problem and indeed it is one, is that we have let this go too far. There are over 310 million guns in the US today. This guy had fifty of them and thousands of rounds of ammunition. We could ban firearms tomorrow and it might make a difference fifty years from now. Nancy Pilosi at a town hall last night wants background checks. The LV gunman would have passed them with flying colors. She said the Republicans kowtow to the NRA and they do. But not too long ago the Dems had both houses and the White House. What changed? Nothing. All are complicit.
In a bizarre question a reporter asked the sheriff of McCarron County, “How could you let this happen?” It floored me just think about that. I guess we are to prepare for every possible eventuality whether dealing with violence, disease or personal safety. It was similar to what I heard in Puerto Rico and Texas and Florida when dealing with forces of nature. Why can’t you do something? Why weren’t you prepared?Now do we cede responsibility for every portion of our life to government? Some would and some wouldn’t. Both without thinking it through thoroughly.
We have made enormous gains as a society and we have also made horrific mistakes. In watching Ken Burns’ documentary on Viet Nam, the follies and hubris of people to whom we have entrusted our government seems to blare out stupidity or outright malfeasance. There was a haunting resemblance of Robert McNamara in Nam to Donald Rumsfeld in Iraq. In a despicable way they attributed their failures to “miscalculations.” Thousands of lives and trillions of dollars. That’s okay, we will learn from our mistakes. Really? And we keep relying on the bureaucracy to solve all our ills.
We have adopted this idea of political and business genius. People are reelected at a frightening rate because they know how to govern. Maybe I am on aa different wave length. At the same time in corporate America we are giving small fortunes to the executive suites even while some don’t perform in any positive way. The CEO of Equifax is leaving town with a bon voyage basket of over $20 million dollars after an egregious screwup on his watch. What does that really say about us?
I think the answer is twofold. First we accept too much as fact. We slurp the pablum fed our way without so much as a whimper. It is not just news, fake or not, but State of the Union speeches and annual reports. Is this because people don’t care, are too busy or have just thrown up their arms in frustration? Maybe a combo but it still projects a dire future. Government aid and soaring stock markets are the salves to sooth all our consciences.
The second piece is an overall feeling of comfort. We have had it good for a long time. Or at least for most of us. We check our IRA’s or pay stubs and say all is well with the world. We make sure our kids are in the best schools and then all will live happily ever after as in all fairy tales. What are we doing for the weekend? I hope the weather is good for soccer games and golf. Nothing like an Indian summer! Oh yeah, Vegas. I kind of forgot about that. Well, it was an aberration and besides I will make sure me and my loved ones are never put in not that position.
On the other side of the coin a friend of mine was in Texas for a month. He is a house inspector in Denver and was called to help out with the damage from Irma. Normally a quiet soft spoken guy he was like a babbling fool when I talked to him upon his return. He saw abject poverty. People not knowing where their next nickel is coming form. A majority on government dole of some sort. In a strange way feeling comfy with whatever they have without giving thought to where it was coming from.
I am a pretty upbeat guy but I feel dragged down on a lot of sides these days. I think of Catalonians, the chaos and corruption in Africa and South America as well as the unending strife of the Middle East. That is a lot of upheaval. We are kneeling to protest but there is no definition of what we want or how to get there. We wring our hands about 59 people gunned down but give little thought to the fact there were 100 gun deaths elsewhere that very same day throughout these United Staes. Another 200 wounded. That is 365, 24/7. We just accept all these things as part of society.
What scares me most is our lack of spirituality. True introspection not necessarily church going. Thinking about something more than myself and my possessions. Trying not to spend my days mindlessly going from one evolution to the other. Why am I here and what good if any can I do in this world? How in some small way can I make someone else’s life better? It could be just a deliberate hello or thank you. This isn’t Onward Christian Soldiers but a call to come out of our little orbits and taking responsibility for this planet. Crazy? Maybe. On the other hand I guess we could just sit back and let the government take care of everything. How has that worked out for you so far?
Ted The Great
Ironically, banning guns, semi automatic or otherwise would have little to do with that 100 person per day death rate. 66% of the fatalities are self inflicted. People killing themselves. 20% are gang related. I am sure they are not doing background checks. And 5% are the results of domestic disputes.
Mass shootings: There were 372 mass shootings in the US in 2015, killing 475 people and wounding 1,870, according to the Mass Shooting Tracker, which catalogues such incidents. A mass shooting is defined as a single shooting incident which kills or injures four or more people, including the assailant.
Let’s assume we spend a trillion dollars annually on fighting terrorism when you total everything up. Terrorism kills a relatively small number of people. What do we spend on mental health?