I check out Facebook. What I often notice—beyond dining and vacation photos—are aphorisms. These witty sayings reflect a variety of interests and concerns ranging from the human spirit to women’s issues to politics. They give the people who post them a chance to vent. They also get me to thinking about how fearful parts of America have become.
The U.S. has suffered a rash of mall and school shootings. Almost all take place in suburbs and small towns. While big cities like Detroit, Chicago and Oakland can be very dangerous places, few mass shootings occur in urban centers.
Why do so many people snap and murder in areas in which Christian identification and church attendance are high? These suburbs and small towns should be stable, peaceful communities. People say that’s why they live in them. I’m not sure they believe that.
I continually see posts from a young man who lives in suburban Dallas. His aphorisms focus on three main themes: Hunting and fishing are great. If you break into my house, I will kill you. And if you are a boy with intentions regarding my daughters, I will kill you. (Note: his daughters are little children.)
Let me set my own record straight. Hunting and fishing are good things though they’re not my interests. No one has the right to break into someone’s house. And no one has the right to harm children. (Many fathers of teen-age girls want to seem menacing to teen-age boys since the boys are preoccupied with thoughts the fathers had when they were teens.)
Further, I believe that anyone of sound mind having properly been vetted has the right to have a weapon in his or her home. Not a military-style assault weapon mind you, but a handgun or a shotgun. Many people do. And still, they live in fear.
My brother-in-law—who also lives in Texas—remarked that a friend had 5,000 rounds of ammunition in his house. Was he pulling my leg? I’m not sure. But this news flash: 5,000 rounds are 4,990-plus more than needed to stop an intruder. If you require 5,000 rounds to defend your home, you’re dead—or fighting a major war.
Given these attitudes—particularly the belief that “they” are coming for God-fearing Americans—the love of weapons and menace continues. The thought of controls on weapons—particularly military-style weapons and handguns with clips holding large numbers of rounds—greatly upsets the patriotic folks in America’s peaceful, religious heartland. A great number of these folks, by the way, have never performed military service.
What does this tell me? Despite the nation’s military and intelligence prowess, many Americans see the United States—and their own communities—as weak. So, despite high church attendance, Scouting and Little League, Smallville may really be a dangerous place.
Still, people on the Internet who declaim how tough they are and support the proliferation of more deadly weapons and ammunition, lead me to suspect that they suffer from an unreasonable and unhealthy dose of fear. The more they bellow about arming for strength, the more they suggest that they may be America’s weakest link.
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Read the first three chapters of The Boy Walker, at davidperlstein.com. Order in soft cover or e-book at Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com or iUniverse.com. Check out Green Apple Books and Books, Inc. in Laurel Village, too.And read my short-short story “White on White” in the Winter 2014 online edition of Summerset Review.