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Sat Sep 14, 2013, 08:49 AM

17. I left this up when I went to bed last night,

wanting to respond thoughtfully with a clear head. I don't know how clear my head is, although I'm sure it will improve as I finish my cup of coffee, but I'll give it a try.

I see more than two issues here.

First, there is private gun ownership. I agree with you about the gun culture; I think it is a bigger problem than the guns themselves. I also think, though, that there is a connection between the two. I'll come back to that.

The militarism of police departments etc....This is a concern. Any time there is abuse, it is a big concern. I think that there are dysfunctional people who, along with more altruistic people, are drawn to the authoritarian power an officer of the law carries, and that makes them dangerous. I think, as well, that many people who advocate guns for self defense also have that unhealthy need for power over others.

I spent a few days in my state's biggest city this summer with family from another state. They loved our city; one of the greenest and most liberal in the nation. They noted that, no matter what neighborhood we were in, commercial, industrial, poor working, higher-end entertainment, etc., they felt safe. This was different for them. They also noted that every time they saw a cop, he or she or they were interacting in positive ways with everyone; chatting with those waiting for a bus, with buskers, with the homeless, of which there were a few. Nobody tensed up around them. We saw them on foot, on bicycles, and on horses. Until one point, when we were waiting for the Max. There were two sets of cops; one across the rails and one near us. My family noted that the one near us, unlike everyone else we'd seen to that point, seem to be harassing a disheveled looking guy waiting for the max about something. I looked and saw: he was state police, not local police. Apparently, local police who spend time getting to know, and getting known, on their beat make a difference in how we see them. I think this concept is worth exploring and expanding on.

I have a hard time working up a fear of the military state, even though I know it has happened, could happen here, and that we are exhibiting some of the same symptoms that allowed it to happen elsewhere. I DO think we ought to be paying attention, and acting vigorously and relentlessly to keep local law enforcement and militias in check. I don't really think that individual gun ownership is a way to accomplish that. First of all, individuals don't own, and I don't want them to own, deterrents to the kind of weapons the government has at its disposal. Second, I think that is more likely to increase the gun culture, and the culture and existence of a police state, with more acts of violence likely to occur.

I agree with your friends who believe that state violent identity is born from social violent identity. I'll use a familiar metaphor: the story of the two wolves that live inside of us. Who "wins?" The one that we feed. That's why gun ownership feeds the gun culture, even though it's the gun culture that is the problem. Violence feeds violence, war breeds war, fear tends to bring about the very thing we fear faster and more profoundly. This is why we need to be focused on non-violent solutions.

Finally, I'm going to leave the term "pacifist" out, because it comes with some assumptions and associations that aren't helpful. Like passivity, for instance. Non-violent struggle, as G_J mentioned, is not passive, and can be effective. He mentioned MLK, who got his ideas about non-violence from Gandhi. Both knew that the struggle is not without cost. One of the things that Gandhi supported was helping the oppressed by empowering them...not by saving them through force, but by teaching them how to use non-violent struggle to improve things for themselves. That's a much more nuanced, and, imo, evolved, way to deal with conflict than many are ready to understand or engage in. The bottom line, though, is that there are ways to address conflict without violence, and that's what I'd like to see the U.S. do, within our borders and in the international arena.

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Gravitycollapse Sep 2013 OP
Bjorn Against Sep 2013 #1
digonswine Sep 2013 #2
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digonswine Sep 2013 #6
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mick063 Sep 2013 #4
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mick063 Sep 2013 #8
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mick063 Sep 2013 #16
Pretzel_Warrior Sep 2013 #7
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rustydog Sep 2013 #11
Lizzie Poppet Sep 2013 #18
G_j Sep 2013 #12
rrneck Sep 2013 #14
Eleanors38 Sep 2013 #15
LineNew Reply I left this up when I went to bed last night,
LWolf Sep 2013 #17
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