This scene is playing out in dining rooms across the United States; the Winter Olympics are on in the background, as television so often is the background to Americans' lives, because even when they're not engaging with it directly it does not occur to them to turn it off, ever. It is surely the shibboleth of being in a family nowadays, the plangent voices calling out from the thin thing lovingly mounted on the wall or on some rolling cart that wheels just perfectly into place in some well decorated part of the house. Have you seen the latest well-funded serial on Netflix? How about that commercial during the Super Bowl? And yet, while it goes full blast through the ice dancing short routine (the French had a wardrobe malfunction), we are in the dining room eating American made curry lovingly, and emphasis on love, by folks who have learned to cook in retirement from Mark Bittman, and, yes, conversing about the latest gun massacre, this time in Florida. I notice how high-falutin language gets used to describe schools as "sacred spaces" as if schools can actually ever be a sacred space in the full-fledged meaning of Latin's sacer wherein the school is dedicated to the gods and their purview. Or, if we want to be perverse and run this the other way ad infinitum here we can perhaps say that the schools in this country are consecrated for capital, its accumulation, and of course to the gods of spectacles, which are the gods, of course, also, of fear. I notice the unique kind of hope which emanates from good people in terrible situations, a hope that things will change, that humans are good, or at least capable of it. This kind of essentialism is what we fall back on for perhaps as long as I've been an adult, a knee jerk notion straight out of the Renaissance that is sure to gather approving nods from across the paneer and cilantro. Humans are good, right? We of course will make paeans to the degrading shadow of individual and collective persons. Yes, that young man was disturbed. Who wouldn't have given him a pass in a mental health evaluation? If you don't then when do we stop sliding toward a police state in which the diagnosis of a mental health professional would be enough to take you out of buying a gun, or perhaps committed indefinitely?
I beg to differ. While I would march, and have, along those who want change, I do not think it wise to hope that there will be change. Those who are brave enough to look this rough beast in the eye, can find the eye, can see that it sloucheth straight for its inevitable shredding in Jerusalem (the Jerusalem of our soul) and the shredding of all habitable life in this planet. Many see these shootings as isolates, despite of course being outraged at their frequency. Their connection, while tangible, lures us away from the much more painful truth. These senseless (death is senseless!) shootings committed by persons who are surely in the midst of a psychotic break while they shoot, are a symptom of an incomparably larger problem which infects our foundation irrevocably. Students of history will know that this country, a carbuncle on the larger edifice of so-called "Western Civilization" which is really a late form of Christendom, is showing literally all the signs of collapse of those that went before and a few more to boot. We've long outstripped the supply of natural resources, and the shiny viscous potion that's allowed us to explode and hubristically claim that we are the most powerful thing in the history of humanity, will be gone soon, or, at least soon enough in historical terms. Less than a century out for sure. But not, to be sure, before we overturn every rock to get at it. That curry on the table? Fossil fuels. The lights and heat? Fossil fuels. The soap with which we wash our hands after urinating in the fossil fuel made toilet and bidet? Fossil fuels. Method of travel to dinner? Methods of travel to far-flung places on the planet? Our clothes? Our glasses? Our hair? Our health? Our birth? All of it, really all of it is fossil fuelled.
And yet a sign of maturity is the holding of simultaneously divergent opinions and the living out of them both. Of course, we want sane gun laws. It is beyond question that the access to guns in the this country is by a wide margin the primary cause of the pervasiveness of the school shootings and mass shootings generally. To argue otherwise is to engage in flawed reasoning and that can be the subject of a different post perhaps. However, while we march for sane gun laws we lose sight of the loss everywhere of biodiversity which is a much more lethal killer of human lives and all life in general. From macro to micro, from continents to microfages, we are destroying what makes the world live - biodiversity. In the words of someone I now forget, if you're doing one thing, you're not doing another.