As I write this, I can’t seem to shake the iconic image from my head of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 “Dawn of Man” Hominid, first discovering the idea of a weapon. Slowly he grasps a large bone of a decayed Tapir and begins dragging it back and forth on the ground until he eventually smashes the entire skeleton with it in a celebratory display. Whether this is how the discovery of the handheld weapon actually occurred is moot; in any case, this striking visual of cinematic history describes a true turning point for our own humanity as it exists today. It not only signifies our first means of defense and survival against other species…but shortly thereafter, as a device used against our own species as well.
Our primitive ancestors were mostly gatherers of herbs, plants, fruits and vegetation. But in some climates where sunlight, temperature or precipitation were not ideal, we needed to craft weapons to hunt animals for food and clothing. This was a requirement to exist. But just beyond that, something else clicked in our brains. We became aware of “competition”; the other groups, tribes and families whom also required these same resources. Instead of finding a way to communicate, work together and share; we turned our hunting tools upon them. We began killing out of a growing fear in our minds that “they” would take it all for themselves. Certainly, our intelligence was not developed enough to seek an alternate choice at the time; we were simply utilizing our newfound technology to solve an additional problem. Nonetheless, this kink in evolution led our species down a very dark path and to this very day we still suffer the consequences of this choice. This was the beginning of selfishness.
Most would attempt to justify this killing as a greater means to an end. But the ultimate decision to kill is based upon his own personal experience of hunger, frustration and rage; not that of the welfare of his family or tribe. To wield a weapon against another is a selfish action; we make that final choice on our own. Before attacking, one must reconcile a sea of outer influences and conflicting emotions with our own instinct to exist harmoniously. When we’ve accumulated too much of this outside “noise”, we cease to be in control our own mind. We intend to use the weapon because we’ve become convinced that situations exist which warrant it. The use of such a tool closes the creative mind off from reality and keeps us from solving problems rationally or with compassion. This has become part and parcel with the human condition, as our ever-growing technology only makes way for a more terrifying reality.
Today, the firearm is the weapon of choice. According to research pulled from ATF data, the U.S. is home to 40 million more firearms than it’s entire human population. The largest justification for these weapons continues to be “defense”, which can be easily argued based on some surprising statistics alone. From a private citizen standpoint, a study was conducted by the Violence Policy Center where they state that in 2012, there were 259 justifiable (defense) firearm homicides out of the 29,556 firearm deaths in the U.S. that year. So, basically that is only 1 killing in defense for every 32 murders, suicides or accidental deaths. And from a military-industrial complex perspective, the U.S. has one of the largest armed forces in the world (second to only China); kicking ass to the tune of $598.5 billion or 54% of ALL federal discretionary spending. That’s a lot of bang for our buck but when is the last time we ever used these armies or weapons in an actual position of “defense”? Hmmm…I hear crickets.
After all is said and done, we (as a species) never once said, “this is enough, we’re smarter than this”. To the contrary, we are no further along than the ape swinging the bone and crushing everything around it. We are still so focused on validating our self-importance, that everything outside of our circle has become an opponent. One can only ponder how different this planet might be today, if the first humans worked together with one another. If they created communities where each individual had a real purpose in truly helping to enrich the lives of the many, as opposed to destroying them. With that mindset we could have been learning from our mistakes along the way and simply correcting them as we go. Instead, we chose to fight each other. We dragged the mental baggage of a lost age into a new one and built barriers between us all; separating each other by species, country, state, race, belief and class. We’ve huddled into teams and created strategies to defeat the other. We’ve accumulated half-truths, hearsay and propaganda spanning millions of years and continue to use it as fuel against “outsiders” both foreign and domestic. Our so-called “intelligence” is utilized only in an effort to reign atop an imaginary chain we’ve constructed from whole cloth. And those who believe they already sit upon it, laugh as they watch us kill each other.
So long as there is air to breathe, weapons will continue to saturate our very existence…there is no controlling that now. Nor is there control over those who wield such instruments. The brain is a weapon; poisoned and filled with fear. We need to diffuse the conflict in our own heads and just start there. Even if we may think we’re already on the right path; how can we expand further? Can we apply our compassion to the smallest of creatures or even the worst of people? We ALL have the power to un-do our own conditioning and guide others to do the same. If we can finally be free of the desire to be better and stronger, we will no longer find the need for a weapon.
Gun control is when an individual takes back control of their own mind. Evolve.