Friday, August 28, 2015

"I alone" or "We together"?

August 27, 2015

For me the gun debate distills to the content of conversations I have had with people who are militant about their right to carry guns - "I'm not giving up my right to protect myself and my family!" they say. In other words, "The world is a dangerous place and I'm alone in it."

Some readers will agree with this perspective. My argument is that I am unwilling to adopt this mentality. It accepts the dangerousness of the world as permanent and intractable. I do not accept this argument because it feels so dismal. Rather than trusting in guns to protect me, I want, as an effect of not having guns, to be compelled to appeal to the polity and the culture to make the world safe, so I can be safe without guns.

Guns may in fact make their bearers feel safer (I doubt they are safer) but clearly there would be fewer deaths by guns if guns were harder to acquire.

Guns have destroyed civilizations and driven many species to extinction or nearly so. They are obviously the most dangerous invention of humanity, in aggregate effect even more dangerous than the atom bomb. The question we need to answer is "Are we, over all, safer fending for ourselves, or by investing our personal safety in our common safety?"

Sunday, August 16, 2015

When So Much Is Unknown

August 16, 2015

Dear Woman I Do Not Know

It is with amazed uncertainty that I contemplate what I have felt and feel about our brief and rich encounter. To have blurted such potent words signals truth as experienced and I am not led to question it or them, but I know I do not know you and we have yet to establish an understanding of what our feelings, our hopes or our meanings might be. The pleasure and excitement in your face this morning, when we encountered each other at the market agreed with what I feel, but we have not had a chance to discuss calmly and rationally, who we separately are, what we separately want, whether we separately would want what the other is. I am certain of very little but this stands forward for me: I will do everything and anything to avoid defining the outcome. I will arrive with as much undetermined as was undefined when I met you.

I, like so many of our fellow humans, want a deep and profound love, and I know it is not guaranteed and for certain a given acquaintance, no matter how intense the original connection, is not a promise of such love, so I remind myself: to expect anything would be to destroy everything; what I want only matters as much as it matters to you, and we must agree. So of the infinite possibilities, I remind myself, I must be prepared for any of them, and if some are more desirable than others, I must not let hope inflate those I wish for into seeming more probable, lest the truth become tragic. Only if hopes fledge may they fly.

Had we had the occasion to talk sooner, this is what I might have said to you. As things are, I find these words bursting from their seams and I need to report them even if the occasion of our meeting is still in the future.

So it is respect for each of us that motivates me: That I do not know you and would not project or impose anything, on either of us; That I would fully encounter you as a person and see you for who you are and would like to be seen, so I can respond to you as I am; and That I would reveal myself and who I am and what I want as it makes sense in terms of who you are and what you want, to keep that essential balance of vulnerability and dignity. Thus it is a dance, an exchange of signals, a keeping of respects, in which I would engage, to discover why I responded to you as I did, why you have affected me, in such brief encounters, as you have, whether it means anything, and what comes next. 

But let me not be misunderstood, those few bits of information I have do not close the possibility of deep connection, and though I remind myself to forebear, I am bared, I am naked. If we do not connect still I show up fully vulnerable.