When Life Fails to Matter

Somewhere right now in the United States and elsewhere throughout the world someone is mourning the death of a father, a mother, a brother, a sister, a son, a daughter, a spouse, a grandparent, a grandchild, an aunt, an uncle, a cousin, a classmate, a colleague, a friend, a mentor, or one who simply crossed their path at some point, at some time, in some fashion, in their respective treks.

As John Donne wrote:

“…all mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again, for that library where every book shall lie open to one another; as therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come; so this bell calls us all: but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness.”

Have we become so callous, so indignant, self-serving as a nation that the loss of life only matters when used as cog to perpetuate our own narrative? Have we lost our appreciation, patience, and understanding of the importance of each volume, chapter, page, paragraph, and word of which we each conform to one minute aspect? How easy we justify by employing a singular abstract. How easy we invalidate, reject, and condemn what is outside our portion and intent.

Has our political partisanship transformed us into primitives without the ability to contemplate and without the capacity to have emotion? Is everything outside our physical domain merely a prop or means to enhance within our sphere while deteriorating that without? Do we no longer occupy or even have the desire to share the same spirit or goal?

Americans died at Benghazi. Americans have died in Afghanistan. Americans have died while undergoing or awaiting medical treatment in all facilities. An American died last night on Main Street in any town, USA. An American died yesterday in an urban area of any city, USA. An American died this morning along an unpaved dirt road that is the sole travel connector from one rural settlement to the next. The causes or translations of their passing differs as some may be categorized as natural, some by sickness, some by injury, some by age, some by accident, some by their own hand, some by justice, some by violence, some in company, some alone, and some by unknown.

Does our political partisanship prohibit mourning for all? Why does it discourage instead of encourage a caring for all?

How can some refer to the termination of a life yet to be born as murder, but turn a blind eye to that life stopped short from starvation or basic medical services? If the death is by violence, why does the instrument used to inflict the deadly force result in more impassioned debate than the actual death?

Why is a question about a death from violence by the means of a bullet from a gun turn into a threat of individual rights or get twisted into comparisons to a banning of automobiles, knives, or any other item which has the potential of inflicting deadly force? Has life become so trivial that it is meaningless?

Increased background checks and all of the proposed gun “control” or gun “safety” measures coming from legislative or credible sources honestly would not prevent all deaths which are a result of gunshot wounds. They may or may not prevent any. Education and training of safe handling and storage practices, however, would most certainly reduce the number of needless accidents.

How many people realize that we have actually reached a stage where if I went hunting with a friend, and I did something reckless such as, I don’t know, cross a barbed wire fence with my loaded rifle in my hands and the trigger snags on the fence resulting in an unintentional discharge, and my friend rightfully calls me every name in the book. Despite the stupidity, the ignorance, everything is acceptable in the realm of rights.

If my friend, however, decides to take control of my rifle because he is worried that my carelessness will result in harm to myself or some innocent bystander, and says that he is going home, that according to the NRA-ILA and legislation on the books in many states, my friend has illegally deprived me of my rights.  Seriously, my friend under those circumstances has usurped, has unrightfully deprived me of what people argue is a God given right and American right with the Second Amendment. In that situation, he is in the wrong. He is the enemy, and it does not matter that I was the stupid, careless fool who he wanted to protect. That’s ridiculous.

When common sense is deemed an infringement, what have we become as individuals and society?

It mystifies me why people shout infringement over something like limiting magazine size for specific guns. Even if you are not an expert, changing a clip out or reloading most guns is a relatively quick procedure. Yes in certain situations, those few seconds performing that procedure may be the determining factor in whether a life is lost or not, but so is the possibility that a larger magazine will jam. Personally, I prefer smaller clip sizes with the weapons I shoot, but the purpose of that weapon and common sense are the real determining factors.

I am mystified above because if something like that is an infringement why is it acceptable for many gun advocates to bully and even threaten a man and his business for wanting to sell a legal type of gun? The freakin’ state law in New Jersey argument honestly holds no water even if this licensed firearms dealer were in the state of New Jersey. He is actually in Maryland and in the same county where I currently reside.

Perhaps these so-called “smart guns” are not for you. In certain applications I doubt if they would be right for many.

On that same notion, however, I’m not going to carry a semi-automatic rifle back home out in nature merely on the chance I encounter a cottonmouth. My old .22 revolver has an uncanny knack which has prevented both me and the people with whom I have been with from getting struck.

It’s amazing how I could pop a striking cottonmouth in the head with a single snap shot while a misidentified chicken snake concealed by brush at closer range could avoid 4 shots before slithering to a location where I saw the eyes and determined not poisonous as it slithered off into the woods.

Despite its effectiveness when used, I wouldn’t try shooting a deer with that pistol.

If one thinks about it, at a target range, that smart gun might be a great choice of weapon. It depends upon the user and the application.

Why though is it acceptable to people who claim to be gun rights or 2nd Amendment advocates to threaten someone wishing to sell or to use that type of gun? How is that not a double standard?

Likewise, why is it not infringement of rights as interpreted by gun rights and 2nd Amendment advocates for Congress to ban plastic guns?

I have heard many who advocate 2nd Amendment rights argue the problems with the detection of such weapons, but isn’t that a similar version to those who argue for regulations on other types of guns? Some argue the weapons are impractical and ineffective. No offense, but any type of gun in the hands of many people is totally ineffective. They can talk. They can hit still targets. In that split second, under fire, how accurate will they be? How many have been there? I have, and I would not wish the situation upon anyone. I know for a fact what I did because it happened. It was real. Still, that is no guarantee of any future event.

It’s a clue though, some say because you have lived the experience, envisioned, or perhaps trained. No it is not. I did not have this experience once but twice as a civilian. Neither was the same. The only similarities were that lead flew.

Seriously, look at today’s version of Second Amendment rights rationality. Then tell me why Joe needs to be prevented from purchasing and using a smart gun if he wants, but Joe having to have background check and possibly being required to earn some safe handling practices certification evil?

Oh we are going back to that automobile comparison in logic.  Well, I can drive my truck but it isn’t legal for me to drive an 18 wheeler. Now I know that I wouldn’t know how to handle an 18 wheeler, so I don’t plan on trying unless I get some training.  Still if it is OK to have extra criteria for legal driving of different vehicles, why is it not for different and perhaps more powerful weapons?

Oh I know. I do agree with your argument that criminals do not follow laws, and this only inconveniences the law abiding.

Honestly, I do not consider myself inconvenienced. I know, however, that if everyone obeys the speed limit, the traffic lights, and uses common sense at a 4 way stop that I will get to my destination faster and with less hassle than if others do not. If I fail to obey those laws, those limitations, I’m infringing upon the ability of others to travel the same road.

If you want to keep asserting that cars are deadly weapons just like guns, shouldn’t the restrictions then be for all or none because both are tools. Each by themselves is not deadly, but if used in a particular fashion each can inflict such force. Doesn’t some middle ground need to exist to prevent one’s exercise of freedoms from infringing upon the freedoms of another? If it doesn’t why the uproar when other groups simply receive the same rights and recognitions you enjoy?

Does anyone else see the hypocrisy of our partisan based arguments?

As John Donne continued in Meditation XVII:

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

For me that is civilization. That is advancement. That is being human.

A life matters wherever and however it is lost. Who or whom should not matter for we are all impacted. Have we forgotten that as a country? Do we not care as people? Do we really believe that life is only important when we have a personal connection or when the events melt nicely into our personal and often partisan narrative?

When I hear people publicly and loudly proclaim their patriotism or their spiritual beliefs, I often see them as individuals who in asserting their feelings are also demeaning any with opposing outlooks. On the other hand, as I look more closely I still see someone assisting another in the shadows and hiding from the spotlight because they do simply because the same translation applies. The bell tolling may be for another but it is also for them.

Why does our partisanship rely upon the diminishing of others? Isn’t the hypocrisy eroding the very foundation upon which we exist?