I hear in the distance, gunfire.
And I know I am a lucky man that I can hear gunfire and not be fearful.
In so many places in the world right now, that sound would cause an immediate, visceral reaction; where to hide the children; where to go that might be safe. Why here, why now, why this village, this country, my family.
How to protect them, my family.
We harbor ridiculous illusions about our ability with “the right to bear arms” that we can make some noble stand in front of our flimsy homes and repel the invasion, the army, the marauders, with our shotguns and 9 mms, and 30/30s. When the army comes with its 50-cal machine guns and recoilless rifles and flamethrowers and tanks and canons and jet fighters and bombers, you are dead or in hiding.
Of course we can go down in a hail of bullets, part of the noble nameless dead of war. We can run to the hills and fight on gloriously as we see so often on TV and movies. The good guys always win then, right?
But deeper than that, I am troubled.
I am yet conflicted about taking a human life.
I know the mythology we have of our brave stand against all comers and our grit and determination, but when it comes down to killing, I have no experience with that.
Thankfully, few of us do.
And those that do, when I speak with them about it, there is no honor there, no pride. Only sorrow.
And when I read about it, it comes at a terrible price, this killing.
I remember reading “On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society,” by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman.
I know where my id goes when my ego is impugned.
I know the adrenaline rush when I think my family is in danger, and the dark dance with the devil in the fantasy of revenge and retaliation.
But the thousands upon thousands of images of killing I’ve watched on the large screen and the small have little relevance to what I’ve read about the reality.
I once bought a shotgun, a 12-gauge pump action, because I was enraged that some low-life scum stole my tool belt out of my truck when it was sitting in my driveway. I never did buy any shells for it, much to the amusement of some of my better-armed friends.
I thought about it quite a bit as I cooled down over time.
Would I really take a life for a tool belt?
Is that my reality?
Would I take a life for my TV?
The conclusion I came to was, no, I would not.
It has nothing to do with some romantic notion of the desperate straits of the thief, or his drug habit or being kind or noble. None of that.
And if he (and I say ‘he’ intentionally, because it seems how we testosterone driven hulks roll) comes into my home, it could be different. Again, if he’s after my TV, my sofa, my computer… is that worth a life?
I’m not stupid when it comes to guns. If I put myself in a position where I’m intent on using a gun, I will aim center mass and someone will die. A 12-gauge is not a weapon for wounding.
And I’m not pulling out a gun to argue with someone, as is shown so often on TV.
I’m pulling out a gun to kill someone.
And here, in the quiet of my kitchen, I’m conflicted.
Do I think it justified killing someone for a TV?
And again, I do not think it is.
The gunfire in the distance has abated.
A assume it was at the range north of town, people shooting traps or skeet.
I am again filled gratitude that those guns are not coming for me.
And I offer a prayer for all those places in the world
where those guns
would come for