Liberty, or not

There have been 17 mass shootings in America over the past week. The latest one, in San Jose, took nine lives. The gunman knew all of the victims because this was a workplace incident. They had all worked together. He was armed with two semi-automatic handguns and eleven magazines of ammunition. His apartment contained bomb-making materials, and it was feared that a bomb might have been planted at the murder site, but fortunately none was found.

People are angry, at the end of their rope. I would love to blame this on race, since most of the shooters are white males, but I think it may go deeper than that. We are frustrated, stressed out, disillusioned, disenfranchised. Some of us feel there is no hope, no redemption, that all is lost. That is a very dark place to be, and desire to end that pain can be overwhelming.

I believe most of what has made us feel so collectively hopeless involves our leadership, political and corporate (which are sometimes the same thing). When leadership demonstrates the ability to evade consequence for wrong action, while the rank and file is subject to the absolute letter of the law, that’s a problem. When it’s proven that decisions are made to benefit only leadershp, and the upper echelons of society, that’s a problem.
When there’s evidence of wrongdoing, but fancy semantics and legal dance routines excuse the crime, that’s a problem. When leaders are caught in bold lies, caught manipulating evidence and facts and choreographing laws in advance that will excuse their misdeeds, that’s the ball game.

Lately, I’ve been asking the questions “what the hell are we supposed to do with this?”. That question extends to many things, not the least of which is gun violence, not the least of which is the double standard enjoyed by criminal perpetrators based on race, and certainly not the least of which is the double standard enjoyed by white collar perpetrators based on class.

Power is addictive. Once people have it, they will usually stop at nothing to get more of it. If they lose it, they will move mountains to get it back. The problem with power, in our paradigm, is that it avoids responsibility. That’s where the double-standard comes in, and that’s not how it’s supposed to be.

There is a cognitive disconnect at the very top of Lady Liberty’s head, and the flame of her torch has been manipulated to light our way selectively. I don’t think she’s happy with that, and we certainly aren’t happy with it. People don’t feel the need to have assault weapons in their bedrooms if they’re feeling as though liberty is truly a reality. We’re free, right up until the point we can’t pay for it…when you don’t have the money to buy shelter, food, clothes. Pay to play is frowned upon in many niches, like athletics and entertainment industries. Perhaps we’re all paying to play.

I suppose another part of the disconnect involves what you get when you pay. Some of us seem to get a bigger bang for our buck, often based on skin color or gender or national origin. Absurdly, those who are victimized by these biases turn on each other, arguing over who is victimized the worst. Our goal should be elimination of the bias, elimination of the double-standards, but we’ve been taught to fight each other for many generations. At this point, we’re stuck in the conundrum of being victimized because someone is trying to rectify the victimization of someone else which victimizes us. End the vctimization would seem to make the most sense.

I’m not going to order a ghost gun or an assault weapon. I’m refuse to play that game, because I understand that shooting people doesn’t change the paradigm of why I feel that shooting people is my only solution. The paradigm has to change so that nobody feels that shooting people is their only chance of being heard. The paradigm has to change because this is not freedom, this is not liberty, this is being enslaved to people and systems we can’t even identify.

Slavery is a big buzzword these days. We don’t like to speak of slaves, we speak of enslaved people. However we speak of them, we do well to concentrate our focus not on the past but on the present. When we speak of the enslaved, we are speaking of ourselves. The plantations look very different now, not so antebellum, more like contemporary high-rises and industrial plants. However it looks, we are enslaved to the idea that money buys power over others, and that’s what every mass shooter, every politician, every world leader is trying to amass. Power. Power over people just like them, power to make the world conform to their vision of what is “right”.

Liberation has to be achievable. It’s hard work, and to get there we’re going to have to give up a few things. We’re going to have to give up the notion that whoever has the most toys gets to determine the rules of the game. We have to give up the idea that certain people deserve the most toys, just because of who they are and what they look like. We have to give up the absolute falsehood that we are better than anyone else, and that we don’t make mistakes. We have to abandon the idea that perfection is the goal of everything we do. It’s not.

People are born and die everyday. That’s not going to change. I suppose our work is to live in between those waypoints. Often, I find that we are not living, we’re waiting. Waiting for circumstances to line up perfectly so that we can make a move that has maximum benefit for us. Perhaps we should focus on movement for the sake of movement, perfect or not, because things are going to change no matter what we do. That’s how it goes, and we should go with that.

Imprisoned by our own limited vision.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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