Try to take an aerial view. It’s hard to do, but from above, I can see the whole elephant, not just the butthole that’s confronting me on the ground, and that perspective change really helps. Empathy is disarming, and that's going to help solve the problem faster than trying to dam up the cascade of shit pouring out at us. From a distance, you might notice that gun worship isn’t the main issue, even though that’s how both sides are framing it. The real problem is fear.
Hear me out. We want a nurturing environment in our culture, and we won’t get there by playing the dichotomy game. That’s the Patriarchy’s bag. We want everyone on the same side. We want to love each other. Aw, stop blushing, yes, you do so want that.
Frank Herbert got it, 100%: “Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.” Everyone’s felt their brain clock out in a moment of fear, but what if fear, and its BFF, anger, were with you all the time? What if that fear was triggered over and over all day? Fear is a daily issue when you live in an unstable environment, one where your livelihood, your home, access to a doctor, all of it might disappear overnight. That describes at least 60% of Americans, though people of color have been living with it and much much worse since 1619. I’m not asking for special pity for the newly deposed elephant herd, but don’t we want them to wake up and join us? Financial instability is an embarrassing new way of life for them. They don’t understand who their oppressor is yet, because they still believe poverty is a choice made by lazy people, even as they’re working their asses off and drowning in debt.
That’s part of their fear, but fear is for pussies, not them. They've got to supress that fear as they wait for the plant to close, or for a drug overdose to kill their kid, or a cancer diagnosis that’s going to take their house. Emotions we supress consume us.
Their tribe still believes that the boss is the boss because he worked harder, and that’s why he deserves money but they don’t. They still believe they ought to be grateful to the boss who keeps their sorry-ass rig afloat. Imagine what you’d have to think of yourself to believe all of that. Their tribe is more loyal to the ruling class than they are to themselves, clinging to that white brand even as the people they admire most grind them under their boot heel. Imagine how much bluster you’d have to come up with to deny that truth. It’s much less painful to believe what your TV tribe says-- that everyone’s out to get you. You need a gun, my friend. Anybody fucks with you and they’re going to pay. Whew. Imagine feeling so vulnerable that you need a murder weapon available to feel safe. That’s who we are arguing with. People consumed by fear.
The ruling class like the NRA and all the fear mongers because they know that frightened people are easy to control, easier to turn against each other. So what if we didn’t go along with the plan? I’m not suggesting that we quit punching Nazis, but what if we could see the humanity of the regular folks we argue with? What if we quit hating them back? I struggle to do it myself, even though I know that's the tactic that worked on me. I’m trying to take a deep breath before I engage so I can see that elephant differently. Great Ganesh, remover of obstacles, has the head of an elephant, too.
It’s hard to let our own anger go, to get out of the revenge business, but we need each other, and they’re not in a place where they can come to us. We believe our way is better, so let’s show them how it is. And if we can’t get them on our side, maybe we can convince them to ease themselves out of our way.
Play us out, Frank.
“I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” Frank Herbert, Dune