For God’s Sake, Why???

For anyone who doesn’t already know of it, I would like to introduce this link:   http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/

For anyone who would rather not look, I would like to reveal these headline statistics:

The total number of gun-related incidents in 2016 (i.e. last six months)      25, 296

The total number of deaths                                                                                               6,495

The total number of injuries                                                                                            13,392

Deaths of children below the age of twelve                                                                        277

 

I am a foreigner, of course.  I can’t be expected to understand why every American should have the constitutional right to own a firearm, in case his national government attacks him, or whatever.  I don’t particularly want to achieve that depth of understanding, because to me that would mean the pursuit of a disturbingly jaundiced path of reasoning with only one very dark destination.  I have never wanted the right to kill.   The thought that I could kill a child appals me.

I do clearly understand that the NRA represents commercial interests whose trade is in death.  I do see that this organisation sanctions the totally inappropriate sale of automatic weapons to private individuals for no other reason than the added profit a more expensive weapon can produce. 

This, too, I understand.  The perpetrators of these horrendous crimes are almost exclusively male.  There is some barbaric instinct lurking in the hairy back corners of the primeval mind that triggers whenever a young male feels worsted, whether it be merely by someone arrogantly dismissing them, or flashing past them in a faster car, or more profoundly by stirring religious fervour in some way.  The resultant disproportionate fury will always be part of our nature, it cannot ever be entirely eliminated, but how it manifests itself can be controlled.  Knives are bad, but they are merciful when compared to a gun.

Sadly, it seems that the squatting toads of Congress are equally immovable.  The NRA ensures their position.  Therefore, the pressure to make things change must come from below; and, as it seems to me, the pressure has to come from women.   The same selfless determination that gave women the vote back in that heady century of change when all things of today began, now has to be devoted to gun control.

Now you’re going to think I’m mad.  I probably am.

Long, long ago a Greek playwright wrote a comedy called Lysistrata.  Aristophanes’ plot concerned women tired of the constant warfare waged by their men-folk and forced change by locking themselves in the Acropolis and refusing them sex.  

Ridiculous?   Okay.  

Effective?  Well, maybe.

But think how a change in social attitudes has brought about the ostracism of smoking as a social habit?   See how the culture of physical fitness and diet is beginning to attack obesity?  These small cudgels can be wielded so effectively in a media-aware society, and it is always encouraging to see their force used for good.

If women could persuade themselves to actively oppose the possession of arms – if the firearm were consigned to the garage, if it was uncivilized, not to say primitive, to be seen bearing a weapon – if the considerable talents of cartoonists could be unleashed upon the spotty punk with the weapon so much larger than his natural appendage, public perceptions would alter. 

Social pressure, whether ostracism, ridicule, or contempt; or more physical deprivation:  “Until you get rid of that gun you’re cooking your own food”, seems to me not just the best, but the only way to go.    But there, I’m just an outsider.  I don’t understand why it was so necessary to deprive 6500 people of life before they had the chance to live it.

Just think:  a little down the line the USA might have produced the Great President; the saviour of the western world – might have, if some deluded teen hadn’t shot him dead in 2016.

Maybe Aristophanes had a point?

There are too many visitors from the Vale of Despond hanging about the place at the moment.  To be honest, I find their company tolerable at times (everyone enjoys a good weep), but I don’t like them to stay too long, if you understand me?  I don’t like them snacking on my little yoghurt-pots of hope, or sleeping in my dream-space.   I value my nice, happy dreams!

The currency they’re thriving on at the moment is the apparently cosmic numbers of books in publication (by one means or another) and the utter despair this should induce in those of us who hope to have our work read one day.  Well, it doesn’t.

He whose words I quote and whose name I entirely forget suggested that there were ‘lies, damned lies, and statistics’.  And by God sir, he was right!

Statistics which quote blandly from number totals are largely meaningless:  in the case of published works, for example, they cover both fiction and non-fiction, long and short pieces – anything in the literary world which warrants an ISBN number.   And ISBN numbers are often batched, taken up by publishers in advance to be used over a period, rather than issued individually. 

Then there is the quality of the work.  In any branch of the arts there are millions of wannabes, a lot of never-will-bes and a few – a precious few – who are.  This is not exclusive to writing.  It is true, also, of fine art, of dance, of theatre, of music….any endeavour you care to name.  That’s the thrill of being an artist – one day someone will recognise your talent and bring it to the market place.    No-one said it would be easy, no-one said it would be quick, but if it were either of those things it would not be worthy of the sheer joy and pride in accomplishment that recognition brings.

I have hit out in previous blogs at the system, and how it works.  How rich is the field the literary agent reaps, and the need for some regimentation in the ebook market to help the reader to be more discriminatory and, more importantly, better informed.   But it doesn’t stop me writing, and it won’t stop me trying.  Not until at least a hundred thousand of that massy figure of published books are mine!