This week I like everyone have followed the news from Orlando with a heavy heart. Once again a shooting massacre has torn lives apart, and snuffed out many for no reason other than hatred. I have been quite vocal on Facebook speaking about gun control. I know that it is a polarizing topic and some would say not the right focus for a "spiritual" blog as if there is anything that is out of bounds when it comes to spirit. I am going to talk about it as well as a few other things, because these are things we need to examine as a society, or we shall just continue the cycle of violence.
For those of you who have not met me in person there is something you probably need to know to understand where I'm coming from. I'm tiny. If I were to go out to a bar I would probably be the shortest guys in the place. I don't goto bars in part because of this fact (also because I don't drink and the energy in bars drives me crazy). I have noticed that when there is alcohol involved in an event whether it be a night out or a party someone inevitably gets angry drunk. It generally is a guy and he starts to look around for someone to start something with, and oddly enough it always seems to be the smallest male in the vicinity. That generally is myself. I have been threatened with the promise that someone was going to "get their gun". I have also been physically assaulted in a restroom (and guess what people it was a straight white male not a transgendered person). I managed to get out of those experiences unscathed. I have friends who have not. In my practice I have heard horror stories mostly from women of the vile things they have had to endure at the hands of men. They are considered the lucky ones, the ones that got away.
We have a gun problem in America. If you don't know that you're drinking the koolaid the NRA is giving out with their blood money. Beyond the laws though there is a deeper issue, our obsession with high powered weapons. Why exactly do about half of us believe it is not only their right, but essential to their well being to have military style weapons? I have boiled it down to two main threads, fear and the outdated masculine model. We are bottle-fed fear via broadcast media, social media, print media, and our political leaders. I can't quite wrap my head around the idea that some people would rather see more mass shootings occur than place some restrictions on gun purchases and the amount of ammunition you can buy. For fuck's sake people exactly what kind of attack are you expecting? Do you really think a whole drug cartel is coming for your family? Statistics show you're more likely to die from gun violence if you own a gun. I'm not here to tell you that you don't have a right to protect yourself. I believe you do, but let's face it assault rifles were not invented for protection they were invented for slaughter and maximum kill ratios. Yet gun enthusiasts are terrified that their "protection" will be taken from them, that they will be left defenseless. They are afraid of the darkness and evil in the world. I will not say there is no evil out there. I have seen its face, it's real. However you must ask if you want to structure your whole life around the existence of evil.
That second thread, of the masculine identity being archaic is so intertwined with our society's love of guns and "might makes right" sentiments. The past half century has seen an enormous sea change in gender roles. The rise of feminism has left a lot of men feeling threatened, not because there is anything particularly scary about treating women like *gasp* people, but because when the roles of a binary gender change on one side the other side must also shift. What we've seen instead is a doubling down on some of the most sexist attitudes in the belief that if we just hold out long enough things will go back to normal (whatever the hell normal is). So we're still selling the ideal man image to boys and young men. They are to be big and strong, physically superior, assertive/aggressive, brave to the point of being foolhardy and be successful to provide for the family. If they follow the rules of masculinity they are supposed to get the girl (whether she really wants to be gotten or not). On the more noble side men are supposed to be protectors, heroes, and if necessary sacrifice themselves. We are also not supposed to show emotion except at sporting events and maybe funerals...maybe.
So we have an old model that no longer fits the world we're living in, so what do we do? We sexualize the gun. I mean come on it's definitely masculine. It shoots hot things out a barrel that can change a life. Sound like something else hmmm let me think what could it be....oh yeah a penis. A lot of male power has been decaying the last few decades. Earning power is down for most men, it generally now takes two people working to support a middle class lifestyle in America. Divorce rates have risen markedly since the sexual revolution, and married men live longer than single men. Then there is the big, strong, and powerful model. Well a gun makes it a lot easier to feel stronger and more potent because it can create serious life and death consequences. Now for some I realize a gun is just a tool for hunting and protection for the home, but for many it has come to symbolize the power of that masculine ideal.
I have for the last few years been trying to come up with what would the new masculine model be. So far I have come up empty. I think in part because I was raised on He-Man and GI Joe, and this programming is so deeply ingrained it is hard to see a way out of it. It could also be that I am asking the wrong question. Instead of asking what does it take to be a good man I should be asking what does it take to be a good human being. There are gender differences I know (I have sisters really I know), but like everything they exist on a spectrum and will be more prevalent for some rather than others. If we just nix the restrictions of masculine/feminine and just went for what qualities make up a good person we may be able to escape this death grip (in this case literally) on outmoded concepts of being.
I know I have offended some of you out there this week. I would say I'm sorry, but I'm not. People are dead from something we could have prevented if we stopped beating our chests and being so afraid of losing the right to be able to easily kill many people at once. We need to look at what we're trying to hold onto and why. How about you? Do you hold onto some cultural program for what a man is. or what a woman is? Do you find yourself trapped by roles you didn't sign up to play? How much does your fear drive your decisions? How much do you identify with the tools, implements and weapons that surround you in our culture? How much do you value your rights versus the rights of others to live? Think on all these things carefully before responding, because this week I am not feeling kind or neutral. I am furious that once again many families have lost their loved ones because we have refused to stop this.
Peace and Blessings,