“Only a man that carries a gun ever needs one.” Territorial Marshal Wistful McClintock from Angel and the Badman (1947) James Edward Grant, writer/director and staring John Wayne
I apologize but today I’m going to be preachy. I’m appalled that it is taking us so long to get it that we have to turn away from guns and find a better way to relate to each other. I know I can’t force anyone to see things my way. But I do believe that we’re all here for a reason. And more and more I feel that my reason for being here it to spread love. Unfortunately today, I’m feeling angry and judgmental. My heart is broken. I have old wounds to heal too. I’m not perfect but I do want to share some thoughts. Take them or leave them as you see fit.
When the mass school shooting happened this week in Uvalde, Texas, my first thought was, “When are we going to stop this?!” My second thought was, “How long has this been going on?” So, I looked it up. My jaw dropped. The first mass shootings, which also happened to be school shootings, took place in this country in 1891! What?! What is wrong with us?
Here is the link to one article, A Brief History of Mass Shootings, that I found enlightening.
Here’s my take on why we fail to stop the sale of guns in this country despite all the suffering it causes. We’ve been living under the illusion that we live in an unsafe country. So we arm ourselves. For some people knowing there is a gun or guns in their possession makes them think they will be safe from all the bad people out to get them. Fear, fear, fear is at the heart of this erroneous assumption. And because we’re fearful we place our faith in guns.
Some people blame Hollywood for our violent ways. I say art reflects the society around it. It doesn’t create it. Well, it can try. I was thinking about John Wayne, the epitome of the 20th Century tough guy. Yes, he did lots of movies where he was the tough guy. But he was the star in three really important movies where his character realizes that there was another way to live other than by the gun, or his fists. Stagecoach, (1939), Angel and the Badman, (1947), The Quiet Man, (1952). In perhaps his most famous movie, The Searchers, (1956), his character comes to realize that seeking revenge is soul killing. Using guns to solve problems is soul killing too.
I’m only an amateur student of history, but it seems to me that the earliest immigrants came to this country for freedom. But it was freedom for them not anyone else. They wanted to be able to not only worship as they pleased, (though if you didn’t worship the same way they did, you were wrong) they also wanted to own land and govern themselves so they could become wealthy. But, they saw the people already living here as threats to that freedom, so they took up arms and stole from them. Taking up arms became an unwritten necessity and was solidified when they decided to rebel against England and King George.
But maybe a reckoning is coming. Maybe the more mass shootings that happen, the pain and suffering helps people wake up to the fact that if you’ve got a weapon in your possession, you are more likely to create violence than you are to create peace. We need to flip the narrative that has had us in its grip for so long.
Guns can’t protect us. There is plenty of everything to go around. Not everyone is out to get us. We do not live in a dog eat dog world unless we create that in our minds. Wealth does not buy us happiness, only inner peace can do that. The greatest truth of all is that only love is real. Everything else is a false construct we create. It’s our false beliefs that trip us up and make us miserable.
I know that breaking the habit of long held beliefs is difficult. We’ve assumed certain things to be true. Examining those beliefs and easing our fears is not an easy task. I know because I’ve been doing it for a very long time. I KNOW that society will change as individuals do their personal healing work.
Let’s remember one thing. Stamped on our money is: “In God We Trust.” Not in guns we trust. Do we believe that or not?
I’m sending my love to all of you who follow me. Thanks so much.
Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2022
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