PRENOTE: In the wake of Falcon Heights and Dallas last week, Peter sent the following reflections. We agreed I would post this on return from an out of town trip. Dick
Been a long time since. It’s always good to read your writings. Feel free to post this response. You have a way of inspiring people.
Here is all I really know, summed up by the late peace activist, A. J. Muste: There is no way to peace. Peace IS the way.
I lost friends to violent murder last year. No firearms were involved. A baseball bat and a sword and a can of gasoline were found to have been used in the killings.
My late friend happened to be the most highly trained martial artist I have ever known, and I know this because I helped to train him for 25 years. I would have said it was impossible for the person accused of this multiple torture-murder to get close enough to this man to hurt him, and certainly not without dying in the process. But he, or most likely they, got to the wife and child first. In the 19 hours that followed, duct-taped to a chair, in a final act of courage my friend got on the phone, and in a calm and matter-of-fact tone, gave his cleaning staff the day off. He saved their lives.
As to “Security”, the family lived within about half a mile of the Vice President of the United States, so among the first responders on the scene after the fire department were the Secret Service, the ATF, the FBI, and the D.C. Police. The big house and the exclusive neighborhood were as highly protected by high-tech systems and personnel as it is possible to be.
Now, to the point of this awful story: “security” is not merely a myth, not only a delusion. Actually it is a stupendous con.
It’s a goldmine. A product that exists only in the customer’s brain. This would qualify it as art, except its purpose is not expressive of the human spirit, it is insidiously detrimental. And I bet you have never heard of a starving Security Expert.
America is not hysterical. I don’t know any hysterical people. There is hysteria, though: it’s all happening on the corporate entertainment feed, which is committed to selling, selling and selling. They sell products, and they sell anything that enhances sales. The selling itself is a product they sell.
To boost sales, they sell fear. That sells a lot of drugs, alcohol, politicians and real estate. Ever notice how much cars look like those white-armored Star Wars robo-troops lately?
All of that sells wars. And the wars sell more weapons than ever. And now the weapons are coming home, along with the awful damage done to human beings. And who’d a thunkit, more fear.
All “security” is false security. Airport security is ineffective at providing safe travel. Its effectiveness in other areas leads one to think it has another purpose entirely from that which is foaming from the media feeds every day. And of course that would be the creation of – no. still more fear? Yes.
The function of police is law enforcement. Not “crime prevention”. They actually cannot do much (legally) before a crime is committed. If you know somebody intends to hurt you, the Police will tell you to call them if they do. If that person says they are going to hurt you, call the police, and they will arrest the perpetrator for the crime of “terroristic threats”. A different crime, but a committed one. See, they only are supposed to respond after the fact.
Like anybody, the police can commit a crime, and there is some doubt these days whether they are treated equally before the law – they need to be treated more equally, but instead the supposed danger they are in at work is invoked as extenuating circumstance, and a lot of them seem to be getting away with murder.
Police are seen in two completely different contexts, depending on where one lives, and one’s physical appearance. Human beings see other human beings through a lens of expectations born of mythology. And that mythology, again, comes from the corporate entertainment industry. Thus some people run to, and some run from the police, when bad things are happening; and both are entirely sensible in this behavior. It is reality in both cases. The same cops exist in two completely disparate worlds. That certainly complicates the conversation in the entertainment feeds, where more than one idea is way too many.
The hundreds (!) of mass shootings we hear about are far are more likely to be the result of badly managed prescription antidepressants than “Radicalization”, the utterly fictional infectious plague we are being sold nowadays. The drugs in the dead shooters are not mentioned, we’re told, out of respect for their privacy. Eventually the pharmacology does emerge, and from what I have read of those since Columbine, it seems almost every shooter was on something with a warning label about violence and suicide. Since research into this might impinge on profits in some quarters, don’t look for it on your “news” channel any time soon. But it well could be that the entire mass-shooting phenomenon could disappear overnight, if a relationship could be established between these savage acts of violence and the things we put in people’s brains to make them peaceful.
Getting rid of guns could only help; but I don’t think it would begin to address the root causes. While we’re waiting for some progress on that, we can attack the natural habitat of terror, though, that’s simple enough: better distribution of wealth, and a restoration (or maybe implementation for the first time ever) of electoral integrity for starters. And free public education, remember that? I got that. That’s how I learned to think this way.
Fear and violence form a cycle that goes around and around until some other influence or friction stops it. This means you have to stop being violent, and/or you have to stop being fearful, if you want to end the cycle. There are no guarantees in this life, but those are the access points, and they are both within reach of every person, because they arise with perception, and perception is language. Violence and fear are both interpretations of the world we think we see. They may be the life-blood of Capitalism, but I’m willing to take a chance on that…
It might help if we could apply something else when we get fearful. Respect might do. We have bears and packs of coy-dogs here in Vermont, so we are careful with the garbage and the bird feeders and so on. We’re not careful because we’re afraid of these creatures: if it were so, we would shoot every last one. But we recognize their part in life. We’re careful because we respect them. We respect fire, and weather events, and floods. We respect people who are not like us.
And by the way, woe betide the rookie officer who shoots a bear in a trailer park after somebody’s open garbage can! People around here really get upset about that.