I came to the back of the store and before me was a long counter backed with a long rack and as I looked at that I realized that this represented a large part of the retail business of the store I was in and that this store's name wasn't at all related to the display that now confronted me. In the glass cases under the counter were hand guns, hundreds of them. Behind them on the wall were a complete arsenal of rifles, shotguns, and semi-automatic assault weapons. One of them was an AK-47 replica I guess. In the aisles behind me were shelves filled with ammunition.
This is now common in any outdoors retail business. Thousands of guns for sale, with all of the ammunition you could possible ever use. Plus all the gadgets, scopes, ammunition making gear and clothing you can think of to buy for your complete outfitting of a combat ready citizen.
Guns are a huge part of reality in America today. It is such a hot trigger issue and it all refers back to the Second Amendment of the Constitution that was written in a time when the only guns that were available to anybody were single shot pistols, muskets, and canons. It basically gives citizens the right to own guns in order to form a militia so people can protect themselves against a tyrannical government or other type of social threat. This basically makes it possible and logical for gangs, the mafia, and other organized crime organizations a free ticket to possess guns to "defend" themselves.
Of course, it also "protects" a single person by giving the right to defend themselves in case of an attack.
Growing up in the south the culture of hunting has always been a part of what many people enjoy doing and it isn't a bad skill to possess. If you can hunt, fish, and grow a garden, you could feed yourself and your family from the bounty that America's land easily allows. We are lucky to live in a country with such a great climate, a bountiful natural habitat for animals and vast lands that make it possible for nature to survive.
The problem is that guns have gone way past being a small part of the American way of life. It has become a major player in the consciousness of this country. Gun violence is rampant in the entertainment media, in the video game industry, and in the perception of our national might. America is the number one leader by far on earth of gun possession from the little old lady with a purse sized handgun to the vast nuclear bomb arsenal proudly secured by our nations military.
All you have to do in order to understand the American psyche of fixation on armed conflict is to consider the success of the film juggernaut "Star Wars" series of movies. I think that these films mirror a major conflict in the nature of a human being, but it misrepresents one aspect that the American sees the world in one way with the justification being one sided in its view.
There is the "Dark Side" of the force and the "Light Side" of the force, or simply "Bad vs Good" or "Them vs Us". The Jedi, the "Good Side" is supposed to be a peaceful warrior and the "Dark Side" The "Empire" or "First Order" is the evil side that believes in tyranny.
It is safe to say that people identify more with Darth Vader more than they do Yoda. Everything about the "Dark Side" is better designed and simpler to understand. The weapons are offensive weapons, the Death Star or the Imperial Star Cruiser down to the Tie Fighters are all much better designed than the Rebel spacecraft. The weapon of choice is the Blaster, but the weapon that only people who are in possession of the Power of the Force, be it the Dark Side or the Bright Side, can wield the coveted Light Saber.
What you see is that everyone who participates in the Empire are represented as dehumanized robots or weak minded people entranced by the power of the mind bending powers of the Dark Side of the Force who are placed in precarious positions of power to do the bidding of an overlord. Which unfortunately accurately describes what is happening in America today.
The Rebel Alliance is a rag tag group of people who resist the power of the all powerful Empire. Strangely enough, this is also part of the psyche of American defiance of the Revolutionary War and of course more compelling the failed attempt at the Confederacy to secede from the Union. In many ways Star Wars is a replica of the American Civil War and the issue of "right vs wrong" is claimed by both sides.
If anyone thinks the Civil War has been over for more than a century they are sadly mistaken. It has actually never been over. Yes, the north won, the slaves were freed and the union was restored, but a deeper and more subliminal division has arisen under the surface of the American society. One that has always existed in the undercurrent of American consciousness and it is here that the divide still lives. Only now it isn't just regional, it is everywhere. Now it has come to the surface and largely defines the political division that we experience today.
The gun issue is really just a metaphor for this broader, deeper, and now open divide in America. Just as in the Civil War, you are either a Yankee or a Rebel. You are either North or South. You are either Blue or Grey. You are either Black and White. Today you are either "Blue or Red." There is no more middle ground. There is no more consensus. The divide in America is as real now as it was during the Civil War and while common decency still prevails amongst both sides, it is beginning to divide families, friends, religions, and social groups like never before.
Today it is next to impossible for a Republican to agree with a Democrat on any issue and also the other way around. This problem exists all across government, from the executive, to the legislative, and all the way to the judicial branch of government. When one side has the majority in all three branches America is no longer a democracy, it is a totalitarian state.
When politicians are so controlled by their party that they can't work together to make correct decisions on behalf of the population it means that this country is already in a situation where it is in self destruct mode. When the power of money and influence fund the election of our leaders you have two problems: 1. The people no longer are in control and 2. The politicians are corrupt before they even take the oath of office. Now you have a situation where the government is controlled by the Rich and Powerful few, and the industrial military complex rages forward spending the national treasure on bigger, better, and more powerful weapons to influence the rest of the world to do what it wants it to do.
America has completely lost its position as the moral leader in the world. Actually, there isn't a moral leader in the world. Just like the Roman Empire which influenced western civilization for a thousand years, the United States has influenced the world for less than a century and now it has lost its moral compass as the leader in democracy and freedom in the world.
Today we are no longer free in the United States. When you speak your mind you are automatically labeled as good or bad by 50% of the population depending on what you are saying. You are immediately labeled Blue or Grey. Black or White. Blue or Red. Them or Us. Heck you can't even think outside the box of the side you most identify without being labeled as a deserter of that party.
This is a bad situation. It ruins my day. It feels like I have lost my home because it no longer stands for the freedom we once fought and died to preserve. America is no longer a free country, maybe not on a governmental scale, but on a societal scale you are either Blue or Red. We are not free anymore to think independently, oh you can try, you may not be killed for it, but at the end of the day you are either for "us" or against "us".
I have seen this day coming now since the Reagan administration, and Reagan had nothing really to do with it although he profited from it. The Republican Party was taken over by this all or nothing force that has been at work ever since and today you have a large portion of the population that will follow that force without question into any battle they are told to fight. It is brainwashing at its best.
That is the basic issue at hand and we are unlikely to have any change in this trend going forward. That is where America is right now, and it will be here for the foreseeable future. America is making bad choices right now due to this societal divide because the people no longer view issues by the issue itself but rather by the position of which side is arguing the issue.
So when you consider the entire argument surrounding the guns issue you are either Blue or Red and today you can't even have a sane debate on the issue at all because you are automatically pushed into being either Blue or Red, when all you want to do is find a practical solution to the problem. But, that isn't going to happen is it? It isn't going to happen on any issue. That is the disastrous truth about America in 2019.
In 2019 the United States of America is a nation divided against itself. It isn't regional or divided along state lines, but rather deep down inside the subconscious of every citizen. I believe that if you were to honestly ask any citizen of the United States if they are Red or Blue you would get a definite answer in the vast majority of the population and the people who claim to be independent are really just not admitting they are Blue or Red, but in fact really are when you get right down to it.
It is almost impossible to escape this reality in America. But, if one is to hold any shred of sanity it is important to do whatever you can to escape it and work on something outside of it.
Which brings me to music.
I don't know or understand a lot of the music out there today. But I do love my music and I know that the love for my music is as important to me as it is to anyone else and I want to be free to choose the music I want. When I surround myself in music I am able to escape the reality of "the world." Some may say this is avoidance of reality, I claim that music is the preservation of my sanity.
If the pursuit of happiness is part of the American dream, then my way of pursuing that dream of happiness is through music. Music is a positive force in the world and my choice is to live aware of reality but not be governed by it. To stay sane and happy this is what I have to do.