As someone who enjoys writing and conveying my thoughts to others I am often faced with a dilemma.
I am aware of what I am thinking, of course. So I am left with the decision to go in to graphic detail, or to leave some things to the reader’s interpretation.
I want to assume that if people are reading what I have written, if they have taken the time to go to a site like WordPress and search for an article, that they are intelligent people that do not need to be spoon fed every thought. So, to some extent, I feel like too many clarifying statements leaves the appearance that I believe the reader is stupid. On the other hand, as I am the only person actually in my head (as far as I know) it is possible that I am not clearly communicating what I intend to communicate. So, clarification may be necessary. It’s a tough choice.
As emotions are running high in the wake of the Navy Yard shootings, and there is a lot of debate on the subjects of mental health and gun control, I felt like my post for the writing challenge yesterday could use some clarification.
My point in the imagined conversation between myself and Mary was that sometimes, in the heat of the moment, we react without really thinking about things in depth.
Mary, being a black woman in the South, undoubtedly comes from a family where just a couple of generations ago fear of the police was an accepted fact. It was the police that were beating people down in the streets during the Watts riots. Police sicked dogs on marchers during the Civil Rights Movement. And it is still police, to this day, pulling people over for no other reason than what has been called “Driving while black”.
Mary may also be unaware of the fact that there was a group of people in this country who were disavowed of their Constitutional right to bear arms. Those people were black, and they were slaves.
My greater point was that in seeking security and safety we may cede our ability to protect ourselves to agencies which we were distrustful of not so long ago. In so doing we may in fact place ourselves in greater jeopardy.
The deaths at the Navy Yard on Monday were tragic. Newtown, Aurora, Ft. Hood, these were all tragedies. But in reacting to these tragedies we must be careful that we do not swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction.
Our government has already shown a penchant for being overbearing, intrusive and heavy-handed. A quick scan of the news will reveal that police are gunning down black men in the street in N.C.; the EPA is conducting armed raids on gold miners in Alaska; the NSA is reading your emails. The list goes on and on.
The one thing that has always held government in check is an empowered populace, aware of their rights, prepared to defend them, and armed for that purpose. In every instance where oppressive, intrusive government has sought to disarm the public, the result has been an oppressed people.
To allow that only the various governmental agencies and their militant branches should have weapons, and then hope that somehow absolute power will not corrupt absolutely, is to invite abuse and eventually the dissolution of our nation as constituted. This is a demonstrable historical fact, with centuries of precedent. We Americans are not superior in this regard to the Empires that have appeared and then left the world stage over the centuries of recorded history.
I was simply making the point that if we, in response to the tragic deaths of some of our citizens, allow the nation itself to be turned in to a police state, then we have committed far worse crimes than those people we are horrified by.
Twelve people died at the Navy Yard. If I recall correctly it was 32 in Colorado. 40 million people died under Stalin. 6 Million under Hitler. Millions more under Mao, Pol Pot, et al. In every place where the government is in sole possession of the weapons and power goes unchecked for long, that power corrupts those who hold it and the people suffer.
Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Let us not now change that to “Take my liberty to preserve my life.”
In the end, historically, you wind up with neither.