Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Brutal Reality vs Smug Isolation

I'm going to go on a bit of a mental journey today. It does all fit together eventually, and does have a point, (sort of). So bear with me. These are some new realizations for me, and getting them down on paper (pixels?) helps me hash them out for myself.  So this is less of a declarative post, than a personal intellectual exercise. Or perhaps it's all gibberish, and I'm just flattering myself - LOL Here we go ...

In case you missed it about a month ago, I went hunting for the first time. It was challenging, and also empowering and enlightening, because it was a successful hunt for me. I killed three game birds that day, for the purpose of eating them. This is something that I hadn't done before, but it was something that I had wanted to do for a long time. I wanted to have that experience, and to understand the most basic reality of human existence - killing for food. 

This experience got me to thinking about other realities in life. Yes, I killed another creature. I took a life. But when it comes down to it, this is what human existence is all about. Unless one practices Jainism, and sweeps even insects from one's path lest they be crushed underfoot, we human beings take life. It's part of our existence at the top of the food chain, and also part of life amongst the predators of our own species. Yet the majority of people refuse to acknowledge this fundamental fact of life.

Besides the standard spiders in the house and bugs on the windshield, most Americans are isolated from the actual act of killing. They let the exterminator take care of the mice in the attic, and don't even want to know where their steak or chicken comes from. Their meat arrives in front of them as non-descript slabs of protein, on trays in the supermarket. And if those slabs have already been flash frozen and bulk packaged into bags, there isn't even any blood. People don't even have to get their hands dirty.

And yet those people with "clean hands" often have the nerve to be smug - smug and particular about "how" that slab of protein was killed or caught - while they sit on their hands, waiting to be fed.  They can even be smug and particular about what kind of life their food lead while it was on the hoof or wing. (feed lot or free range, "cage free", etc) Yet the actual bloody business of the killing and cleaning/butchering, is something that most of those people don't want anything to do with. They are isolated from the brutal reality of obtaining the food they need to survive.

It's the same way with the reality of death in general. People mostly don't die at home anymore, they die in the hospital. Families neither care for their loved ones in their last moments, nor do they prepare the bodies for burial at home. We have entire medical and funerary industries to take care of that bit of unpleasantness for us. 

Thus, most people in our society are completely isolated from the brutal physical reality of death in all of its forms - both human and across species.

Most Americans are protected from the day-to-day brutal reality of defense of home and hearth as well. No one here in the US has to personally protect their village and crops from invasion anymore. Nor must they worry about being murdered in their beds by marauding bands from neighboring tribes. We have a military to do that "for" us. We are isolated from that brutality - at least in this country - and at least for most of the last 150 years. 

But then there is random evil. Not accidents, not invasions, not natural disasters, but true evil - generated in the human heart, and carried out by individual human beings who we thought were like us - simply for evil intent. Like providing our food, and dealing with our defense and our dead, we have "farmed out" defense from this type of criminal evil to others as well.  By making laws and hiring police, people have attempted to insulate themselves from this form of brutal reality too. They might even naively think that because they haven't personally experienced it, that evil doesn't still exist. Or they might - like the cleaned-handed meat-eaters mentioned above - become smug and particular. They might think they shouldn't HAVE to lift a finger to defend themselves or to even make smart choices - that's "victim-blaming" they whine. And yet they feel they have the right to dictate how the police and others, who are less insulated than they, DO make choices to defend both themselves and other citizens.

These types of people have become so successful at insulating themselves from the uncomfortable, brutal realities of the world, that when presented with danger or actual evil,  they find themselves completely unable to function or confront it. They have stripped themselves of every tool and skill that humanity used to have at its disposal to deal with danger and defense. They have nothing left but impotently attempting to reason with a bear.

This is where many Americans have brought themselves. And it is not only ineffective, it is pathetically childish and irrational.

These are the kinds of people who are so divorced from reality, that they think that a bear "cares" what you have to say to it. These kinds of people think we should use "contraception" to control deer populations. These are the kinds of people who thought that Officer Wilson should have let Michael Brown beat him to death. These are the kinds of people who think that a Gun Free Zone sign protects our children. These are the people who think that evil responds to pleas for mercy. It is  beyond childish and irrational - it's  a fantasy world.

These are people who live in a very tiny, insulated bubble of perceived security. They cannot conceive of personally shedding animal blood even to save themselves from starvation - let alone shedding human blood to save themselves from a mass murderer. They are helpless and impotent when faced with brutal reality. Yet, to help assuage their own feelings of impotence, they want to dictate to those who DO have those skills. They want to make everyone as helpless and dependent as they are. I know there is a psychiatric term for this, but it's escaping me at the moment.

Then there are the people who emotionally transfer their fear of a situation into fear of an inanimate object. Often the two of these mental short-circuits go hand-in-hand --skipping merrily down the path to fantasyland. These helpless, impotent people, apparently are unable to acknowledge human will, and the capacity for evil in the human heart, because they instead ascribe that will, and capacity for evil to the inanimate object - which is the firearm.

In order to make themselves feel more secure and "in control" - even though they are actually impotent - these types of people attempt to exert control over evil by exerting control over what they fear. And thus, we have gun-grabbers.

We have created in this country, such a good and secure society, that it is now being threatened because of that very security. Our present societal safety and isolation from brutal reality has now bred contempt for the very methods and means which provided that security. 

As a physician, I need to point out that this is not unlike the vaccine situation currently. Vaccines have been so successful at shielding people from the previous horrors of polio, diphtheria , pertussis, etc, that some people now attack the very vaccines which enabled them to survive their own childhood. They have no concept of what existed before, and no concept of accepting tiny risk in order to avoid tremendous risk.

Not only do we now have antivaxxers, but thanks to general societal affluence and "food security", we now have people who are annoyed by the noises and smells coming from the farm adjacent to their new subdivision. (God forbid you should have to smell the manure that comes from the cattle which provide your meat and milk.) 

We now have people who protest against hunting not only deer, but also the coyotes and cougars which kill livestock - and your little dog too. We now have people who believe that the Police are the violence problem. These people throw armed, on-duty, uniformed police officers out of their restaurants - because of their irrational fear of "guns". To them, it doesn't matter WHO is using the gun, it is the gun itself which is the root evil.

By extension of that, we now have people who want to control and get rid of the very right to firearms which created this secure society in the first place. It's another symptom of this same disease that I've been describing - the disease of Smug, Clean-handed Isolation.

This disease turns grown adults into irrational, dependent, children. And they want to turn "you" into one too - because they are threatened by people who are not insecure and dependent like they are.  Even though they are actually powerless and impotent, they want to feel as if they have "done something" to assuage their own fears. Thus instead of stepping up to take responsibility for their own defense, they work to make you as powerless as they are.

These are the kinds of people we are up against as gun-owners - the irrational, the impotent, and the fearful. And the galling thing, is that all the while they work to make "you" powerless, they sit happily in their Smug Isolation - sitting primly on their clean hands, waiting for "someone" to feed and protect them.


  1. This makes perfect sense, and is something I've been thinking about as well. I think it's interesting that hunting (when the animal has a fighting chance of getting away) is seen as more "barbaric" than raising animals for mechanized mass slaughter, simply because it involves private ownership of a gun.

    I'm a fellow female pro-gun physician (from a big city even! there aren't many of us!) and I like reading your blog. Keep on fighting the good fight.

    1. Thanks for the encouraging words :-) There are more of us out there than you think. You might want to check out Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership at which is a project of the Second Amendment Foundation.