In the wake of the #SanBernardino shootings, Benjamin Mullen struggles to find the words to talk to his daughter about how to remain safe. But he knows he must try.
It’s 3pm on a Wednesday, bath time for my toddler. She’s two years old and if you’d asked me on any other Wednesday what I have on my mind, I would say it’s the fact I can’t get these knots out of her hair. Tonight though I’m thinking of something else: how to explain the world to her.
There are so many amazing things out there it’s hard to know where to start. What’s truly hard though is not which amazing thing I’ll start with, it’s how to I even begin to explain the horrors. She’s too young for any of this at the moment, but it’s coming soon. I can picture the moment in my head.
“Daddy, what’s a gun?”
I’ll start with explaining hunting, then a brief history of War and the Second Amendment I suppose. But then what? Do I keep my mouth shut about the rest? How do I tell my little girl that she could die at any moment in any place? There are many instances as a parent where we need to inject a sense of fear so that they stay cautious etc, etc. But this is different.
How do I tell my little girl that this thing humanity invented for hunting and then redeveloped for war is a problem in our country? What do I say to her about how the Second Amendment that provides us with a level of protection also provides us with a level of insecurity? That because of it, and because of a political agenda, every single person in America can own a gun and yet nobody is safe.
Jim Jeffries said it best: “The thing about crazy people…is that they don’t know they’re crazy! Not until it’s too late!”
Humans are just meat bags with a bone structure and emotions that can swing any which way at any time without any warning whatsoever, and quite a few of them are armed because “It’s their right.” So I suppose that’s what I’ll have to explain to her. That every one of us can own one of the most destructive tools ever invented, and we can use it whenever we want, even when we’re upset and not thinking clearly, and she’s at risk. Even if she’s done nothing wrong, she could be executed on the spot. Maybe she will work at a Planned Parenthood one day, or a Military Recruiting office.
Or maybe she’ll just be at the mall. Or school. Or a café. Or just walking down the street. Or sitting in her own home. Or at the grocery store. The list goes on, and there is a number of the population who say, “Well if YOU have a gun, you’ll be safe when something like that happens.”
So then it’s up to her. Buy a gun and risk being the person who uses it for evil, or don’t buy a gun and be at the same level of risk as you always were to begin with and always will be. The funny thing is, these people who say you’ll be better off with owning a gun also say that if we take away guns, there will be a rise in knife problems like in Canada and Australia. Funny thing though, they’re probably right. [This seems to hang a little. I might say something like, “Even if they are right, does the entire world read about a mass knifing in Canada and Australia every week the way they read about mass shootings in the US?”
So the lesson is this, I suppose: Whether its guns, knives, bombs, baseball bats or bare hands…if a person decides to kill you, they’ll use whatever they can get their hands on to do it with. Take away all the weapons and they can still use their fists. The only saving grace is that if you are using your fists to kill someone, you are killing the one person in front of you, not everyone in the room.
Humanity is a wonderful thing, filled with ingenuity and amazing feats of community and love. But it is also filled with hatred, jealousy, fear and misunderstanding. People believe in their morals whether it’s inspired by Religion or not, and if they believe in it enough…they abandon all reason and humanity when they see someone doing the opposite.
So, my dear daughter. Love always, for the bulk of humanity is full of wonderfulness and magic. But be wary of the moral fabric that makes up the people you encounter and welcome into your life, because it’s in the nature of humans to change and you’ll never know when, where or how that change will manifest.
These people who have committed the atrocities lately that lead to the deaths of innocent people did so with a purpose. Each of them believed they were doing good for society. They dedicated themselves to an ideal and believed that the only way that ideal would succeed is through the death of those who disagree with it. All these instances, all these….miniaturized versions of The Crusades…they’re examples of how human passion when combined with misinformation and weaponry can lead to horrible things.
How do we solve it? It may never happen. The best I can do at this moment in time, for my daughter who is right here with me, is to teach her how to understand these things and constructively negotiate her way through life in world full of insecurities and violence.