"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Gun Control–Sex, Guns, And Rock And Roll Are Here To Stay

Human beings have played music and sung since the dawn of history.  Music is either in our genetic codes or so indispensable for human communication that we cannot seem to do without it. Children are taught to sing nursery rhymes and blow plastic trumpets.  Teenagers join bands, hum, or sing on street corners. 

Hip hop is the fusion of West African griot recitation, drumming, spiritual incantations, tribal dance, the chants of field hands and work gangs, and the white musical traditions of the South.  Classical music evolved out of mathematics, logic, and spirituality – expressions of evolved culture that began as medieval motets, simple tribal chants overlaid with multiple voices, became more sophisticated with tonal and rhythmic variations and new arrangements made possible by the design of new, more flexible instruments. 

Ethnic music evolved as a product of European classical and popular traditions and indigenous tribal chants and rhythms.  Music has been more a part of our human heritage than anything else; and other than the fact that it is essential, there is no predicting its next evolutionary phase.  One can only know that it is here to stay. Music may become more personal and less public and recital; more electronic and mediated; or it may become as much a reflection of a zeitgeist and/or its engine as it was in the 60s and 70s and become as aggressively loud and insistent as it was fifty years ago.  

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Sex, sexuality, and gender have undergone scrutiny and reconfiguration in the past decade.  There is no such thing as heterosexual sex – or even homosexual sex – but activities between adults self-defined along a fluid spectrum.  Transgender men – i.e. women who have become men, can have sex with similarly altered men.  The combinations and permutation are limitless.  Transgender men who, before alteration as women, were homosexual, can enjoy sex with other men as females or males.

Men and women who are sexually preferential, and who have not made a decisive choice to physically change, have a smorgasbord of sexual opportunities.  Even if sex were not necessary for the reproduction of the species (and that too is not a foregone conclusion) it seems to be here to stay. Whatever the dishes offered on the eventual sexual smorgasbord, as long as fireworks still go off after eating, sex will be with us for a long while.

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Weapons are as historically ubiquitous as sex and music.  Even the most primitive species and the simplest organisms fought for survival and genetic supremacy from the very beginning. As soon as primitive man knew that the femur of a hunted and killed mastodon could serve as a Shelagh, he used it as a weapon; and given the permanent, hardwired, aggressive nature of human beings (and their animal ancestors) and their resourceful intelligence, weapons evolved from the primitive clubs and spears into sophisticated killing machines.  These technological advances happened concurrently with the cultural development of Western Europe and Asia.  Societies which appreciated the sophistication of complex music, philosophy, art, and literature had no problems with military force or the use of violent means to settle disputes.  Both were a part of the human experience.  Both inevitable, unchangeable, and permanent.

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Which is why the current movement to ban guns seems presumptuous at best.  How can guns – extensions of human, hardwired aggressiveness – ever possibly disappear? How can gun control advocates, looking at a history characterized by armed violence, conquest by violent means, arguments settled at the end of a gun, ever imagine a world without violence and the means to commit it?

A progressive argument is that there is no such thing as a hardwired human nature.  Human society is, on the contrary, perfectible; and with enough concerted effort, desire, and commitment, its ills can be remedied.

How, however, do progressives come to this conclusion?  Is a million years of human history not enough to suggest that violence, aggression, and aggressive defense of territory, property, and family are an essential, ineluctable, and unavoidable part of the human experience?

Religion must play a part in shaping such a hopeful argument.  Jesus descended into hell, the place of sinners, murders, delinquents, abusers, and reprobates to offer salvation even to them.  Christian forgiveness, redemption, and salvation are the foundation of today’s Western moral principles. If Jesus could forgive, or enable the forgiveness of irremediable sinners, then anything is possible.  Jesus preached love, compassion, inclusion, and charity; and these sentiments were enough to launch a spiritual revolution.  His principles, challenged and rejected for millennia, were never proved wrong but endurable.

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Islam, a religion of peace, simple faith and obedience has also been a religion of violence no different from Christianity.  Although Christianity extended itself from Palestine to Europe thanks to the peaceful, persuasive missions of St. Paul and his colleagues in the first century, Christian popes felt it necessary to take up arms against the infidel and sponsored three crusades against the Muslim occupiers of Jerusalem.  Islam grew from a simple tribal religion of Arabia into a world religion thanks to the armies of Muhammed; and France calls itself "la fille aînée de l'Eglise" because of Roland and Charlemagne’s military victory against the Muslim Saracen invaders at Roncesvalles.

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While religion may offer philosophical and intellectual compromise, in fact every religion has acted violently to protect or extend its empires.  Even the most elevated and sophisticated spiritual belief has never dissuaded or impeded the march to hegemony assured by military means.   Again – why do gun control advocates assume that this is a different era? That aggressive violence can be tamed?

Guns are not only American, but human.  They are still as much of an extension of human aggressiveness as ever.   Pacifism has been shown again and again to be idealism at best and ignorance at worst.  Only Churchill opposed Lloyd George in his appeasement of Nazi Germany.  ‘Peace at any price’ was naïve, ignorant, and childish.  Hitler was an aggressor who must be met by overwhelming force.   While Hitler’s incursions into Czechoslovakia and Poland, Genghis Khan’s invasions of Europe and Asia, the Japanese imperial wars, and Stalin’s hope for the socialization of Europe may be considered ‘inappropriate’, they were inevitable.

America is a divided, unequal country; and it is no surprise that it is among the world’s most violent.  Why are the disaffected inner city black populations any different from ISIS, ask liberal activists? Both are fighting against a colonial oppressor, a denier of cultural and religious integrity.  Ironically they ask why  the disaffected in America should not take up arms.  Violent crime in America is both a symptom of social and family dysfunction and a response to perceived oppression.

So, why is it a surprise that white America feels the need to arm against what they see is a threat to their own integrity and safety?

In other words, as long as cultural, socio-economic divides persist in America, violence will continue  The issue is not controlling guns but addressing the causes of violence and the social dysfunction at its roots.

Certain things are ineluctable – hardwired, permanent, essential, and unavoidable human.  Sex, guns, and rock and roll are our most enduring and characteristic expressions.

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