Of the One With the Gun.

What angers me most is that this could be an opportunity to get down to the roots of many of the problems in our society. Instead, people become distracted by the issue of guns and stand by vicariously as the media blasts gruesome details of the incident in question through the screen and exploits the grief the family members have over the dead. Simple observation of previous spree killings and the media circus of predators that pounced and fed on it in zero time like a blood-lusting pack of wolves will clearly show that this persistent pattern does nothing more than inspire further spree killings. Think about it with the most sincere, clear-headed, rational self-honesty you can muster. Push aside whatever political party you support. Is the issue here really weapons, even bullets? No. The issue would seem to be the mind behind the digit that applies pressure to the trigger, would it not? Nonetheless, some act as if the very presence of a loaded weapon inspires one to utilize it to eliminate other human beings. The notion is simply Grade-A absurd — an observation that anyone so much as half-hard for the NRA would undoubtedly agree, and the bulging, purple-veined, sky-high tent-pitchers would, of course, applaud for in reactionary glee. I’m no bliss-trembling tripod for the NRA, but that doesn’t dissuade me from swallowing the clear fucking facts here, either, namely that guns are not the issue, and gun control is both unethical and ineffective.

It is ultimately only a diversion from the issue that allegedly spawned it, though hard in itself to ignore on that basis, as the distraction seems intentionally manufactured not to distract so much as to fuel the insatiable thirst certain aspects of our government has for powers it has had on its wish list for a long time. It sees an opportunity here and runs with it, channeling public fear and outrage at the travesties that have befallen our culture so as to justify trading in some of the most fundamental freedoms official recognized by our government in the promise of more adequately safety-sealing our society — yet our basic liberties are traded in for nothing more than a greater, more convincing illusion of security. The masses miss the mark, preferring instead to sacrifice insight into reality and real hope for change by investing in what amounts to a goddamn lullaby.

Instead of contemplating what internal psychological issues or social forces play a role in making spree killing the path of least resistance for the individual in question, people throw out “thought-stoppers” — words such as crazy which are merely dismissive and add absolutely nothing to our understanding of the real fucking roots of the issue. This, of course, raises the question as to what the actual roots of the issue might be. Watch the documentary Murder By Proxy: How America Went Postal. It may not answer the ultimate question or offer a clear solution, but in the very least it gives one a broader view of the actual issues we have to accept and deal with if this escalating circumstance is ever to be circumvented.

There are also the reactions of people that they may typically withhold from public expression but may reveal to you privately, and this was reflected in the documentary as well. While careful not to condone the one who caused the tragedy, they understand where that person was coming from and almost envision that person as a sort of anti-hero. Tyler Durden on steroids and elevated to a dark sort of godhood. One guy I know, quite dissatisfied with the conditions of our mutual workplace, said to me quite blatantly that he wishes he didn’t care, he wishes he did not have a conscience or value for human life, for if he didn’t he would march into the place with a weapon and off all the assholes. There is a certain envy for the killer, an empathy with his potential circumstances, and we are ill to discover a doublethink inherent in our souls: we secretly covet his courage while at the same time passionately condemning his acts.

The motive for these spree killings is an effort to restore a balance in power and control. The gap between the wealthy and the poor has slowly grown into a vast, dark chasm and despite the enculturalization we are subjected to, despite being born into a social contract, we cannot ignore our growing sense of the increasing unfairness, even downright tyranny of our social system.

We live in what seemed to be fashioned by our forefathers to be a republic, a representative democracy, hybridized with the Bill of Rights so as to ensure that the democratic process of “majority rules” (more specifically, rule by the majority of those who vote) does not trample on what they considered to be self-evident personal liberties. Three branches of government were created so as to ensure a balance in federal power, to provide a system of checks and balances, to make our federal, centralized government as decentralized in its inner workings as conceivably possible. The all-encompassing effort seemed to be to create a means by which we could ensure the independence of our country from other, rival powers while at the same time preserving the individual rights of states and individuals. Despite having clearly failed to a miserable degree over time considering the present circumstances, despite their ignorant perspective that women are not of equal worth to men, despite slaughtering and oppressing the natives of the land they “discovered,” despite making people of a different color property, the goal in essence was certainly an improvement over previous social systems instituted by humankind. It was a noble aim, at least in the abstract — they only had to expand their notions of who was considered of value. A significant element indeed, but in a relative sense certainly a step forward in concept.

What irritates me is that people keep coming back to the Constitution, to the Bill of Rights, as if it were perfection from which we, as a society, have mindlessly deviated from. The system’s failure is not the result of us failing living up to it; our failing to live up to it supplies sufficient evidence that our culture itself has failed. In NLP, they say that the response you get is the measure of your success. Given the spree killings, I would say that the ruler we have to hold up to responses clearly indicates our culture has failed.

I have often heard the line that our system of government has been a centuries-long experiment; if it indeed constitutes an experiment, the results are in and the social system has been convincingly falsified in my opinion. That does not mean that the goals of our forefathers, however ignorant they were as to what constitutes a member of humankind, were flawed ones — only that the system they manufactured to meet that aim has proven itself to be insufficient. Symptoms of our failing way of living are plentiful; it is only that we all-too-often fail to see them as such, or succumb to the distractions that system provides for us out of the necessity of meeting our basic needs. After a certain point, however, the frustration in our struggles to survive biologically as well as psychologically build to a pique where principal takes precedence over everything. Personal consequences no longer matter. Stress and anger build and find catharsis in acts that clearly will not make your own situation better, but will give you a sense of personal integrity — you want to show them that you are not their slaves, you are not just a number, you are not just some expendable body that can be so easily replaced, that you are someone, an individual, and so are those around you who share your circumstances. And for what you have gone through, and for what others have gone through, and for those in power who put them as well as you through this unfairness, you decide to eliminate the present problem and send a message: we are not powerless.

Of prime focus is the fact that there is always a bigger fish. what is ignored, however, is that sometimes, and increasingly often, there is a minnow with superior firepower. Armed to the teeth and ready to forge what they hope to be an evolutionary step in the liberation of the slaves of society, and awaken the similar dragons of retaliation numb in slumber in the hearts of so many of who they perceived to be comrades. What brings them to this point? Perhaps the realization that they are slaves to the wage, and so slaves to their corporate masters, who have taken everything from them despite their efforts to thrive, or merely survive. All too often it seems that an individual is to be considered dysfunctional if he does not serve the herd in the way designated appropriate or necessary by the herd, which is typically synonymous with what is demanded by the authorities the herd operates under and ultimately serves. We are slaves to the system, which makes us slave to the masters of the system. When the stress, depression and rage finally brings such a slave to the bottom, they suddenly find a certain liberty, it seems. They have nothing. In the eyes of society, they are seen as nothing more than an expendable tool. A number. Just another cog in the goddamn machine. For them, the only chance at freedom becomes synonymous with “nothing left to lose.” They see their gain and they utilize it. They becomes Jesus of the cultural slaves.

No one has truly listened to them, but they’ve been listening, watching, as well as personally enduring. How does one get people’s attention? In the movie Seven, Kevin Spacey’s character boldly proclaimed that you cannot just tap a person on the shoulder anymore to get their attention; one instead needs to utilize the equivalent of a sledgehammer. Everyone listens to the one who has the gun. Or the bomb. Hell, box cutters were used to hijack commercial jets and fly them into highly-populated sky-scrapers.

This isn’t a call for gun control. This is a sign of a failing society. And unless we truly listen, collapse is inevitable.

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Escape.

Books, movies, video games, and — most commonly, ever-more prominently — sex and drugs are repeatedly labeled as “escapisms,” which has always fascinated me. People get stuck not so much on the notion of escapism but on what inherent characteristic escapism implies resides in the one who practices it: namely, weakness. People see those utilizing these escapisms as doing so because they are too weak, immature, afraid to deal with the real world that those who do not utilize escapisms have to deal with, and suffer under the mighty reigns of.

Well, fuck those associations.

Think about the notion of escapism. What are we escaping from, where are we escaping to, why are we trying to escape? The accusation of participating in an escapism always brought to my mind the image of us living in a prison, and my escapism acting as a sort of short-term parole.

They’re just jealous. They’re too afraid to leave these familiar prison walls, and they want you condemned to the same fate.

Ask yourself this, about drugs, forever christened an escapism: why is drug use higher in some places than in others? Regardless, the more drug use in a specific area, the less people in that area, it would seem, are happy with that area, at least without the use of said drugs. If we are to judge a culture by any meaningful standard, it must be by how satisfied its respective populace is. So the more drug use, the more the society would appear to be failing. The populace feels trapped and has nowhere to hide, run, escape from the feeling but within, and so they seek out tools that allow them to fall in the zone, find comfort within, while blotting out as much of the external environment and circumstances as conceivably possible.

Ever wonder why meditation developed in the East, by poor people in the fucking desert?

There. Now you know.

Poster Children.

Evidence is on the highways. It can be found in the television shows, movies and video games people like to engage themselves in. People flock to the scene of a tragedy like amphetamine-fueled flies to shit, gawking away like vultures hungry for scraps of horror. And so it was with me that day when one of the girls, Marla, was leaning out the back door of the restaurant to smoke a cigarette and called me over. We both stood there, zombie-like, transfixed on the ambulance. With all those pretty lights, how could we chance a look away? Even the swiftest of blinks, especially when we might miss a chance to glimpse a dead body?

That girl over there by the car, pacing, gesticulating as she yelled into her phone, we had to gobble up the display of drama. It was quite enough when it was all a vicarious exercise, but when she made her way across the parking lot, clearly aiming towards us, she blasted the fourth wall to high hell just to drag us into her world.

I did a short debate in the confines of my skull before settling on the fact that I did indeed know this girl, and that she used to be an employee here at our fast food establishment. With her I did what I had not done before and have not done since: snort a smashed pill. I had gone to back drive through, where we stuck the straws to our noses betwixt orders.

When she got off the phone — frantic-sounding, repeating the mantra, “this is not cool, not cool” between sentences — she turned to me and asked for a cigarette, which I gave her as she spilled the story to Marla and I.

He was getting better, she told us. He was clean. Then he hung around with her today. This was all her fault, she told me. This is not cool. Not cool at all.

Eventually it became clear that a guy-friend of hers had just overdosed on heroine in his car. She tried to resuscitate him and failed, calling for help, and a stranger stopped and called 911. As she told us bits and pieces, a cop car pulled in and parked near the ambulance. Then another. She began getting more frantic.

The crowd grew. More hungry eyes before a meaty drama. An older guy, a regular, walked over slowly, smoking a cigarette. Marla spilled the story to him, which rendered my plans of playing dumb to the exact circumstances to prevent an invasion of privacy and the growth of rumors impossible to execute.

“Its sad,” he told us. “Its sad that it comes to this, but sometimes people are caught in circumstances where they feel they have no other option.”

As we continued to speak, it became clear to me that he looked upon incidents such as this as symptoms of a failing culture, a perspective with which I strongly agree and have only come to adopt within perhaps the past year or two.

I felt terrible for her, for him, but I simultaneously had this dismissive voice in my head calling them retarded. Them, not the drug. I don’t feel that it is helpful or appropriate to look down upon a drug like heroine as dangerous. After all, its not attacking you with knives. Its impersonal. It is the choice to use it that you could consider dangerous, but I usually focus on how stupid it is.

And, yes, the judgmental nature of that gets to me. Makes me feel bad. As perhaps it should.

Two people I know have gotten addicted to heroine and two people I know have gotten thrown into jail for both using and selling it, and all within the last two years. Just the other day someone had said that the drug has gotten big in this town, but this town is populated by the poor, so how in the hell could they even afford it?

And why would you want to? I’ve heard of casual smokers, like those who only smoke a cigarette every now and then, or when they drink. I’ve heard of casual drinkers, even those who can do coke only once in a while. Never in my life have I heard of a casual heroine user. You only hear about heroine addicts.

How is that for a good advertizing campaign? And its success despite the sickening sales pitch: how is that for a sign of the times?