A gunman sets up shop 32 stories above concert goers and begins dropping them like the sitting, screaming, horrified ducks they were and before the carnage has stopped, some 50 or more innocent people are dead and countless others are injured or left with scars that will never heal. Welcome to life in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Meanwhile, halfway around the world, we continue to wage wars with enemies who really pose little physical threat to us. While their desires and philosophies may include seeing the fall of the United States, the reality is since 9/11, these groups have failed to inflict nearly as much lasting harm on American citizens as have our own home grown terrorists.
You do not need to belong to an extremist religious group like ISIS to be a terrorist. ou just have to be filled with the same level of hate and mental illness to inflict more harm than we ever thought imaginable. You then just go to a local gun shop, fill out the necessary paper work, wait ten days while your hate and brain stew a bit more and you are good to go. It’s that easy.
Worse, given what has just taken place in Las Vegas, you can bet gun sales will skyrocket while some of the most paranoid, sick, and deranged people, also known as the National Rifle Association members, tell the world none of this would have happened if all the concert goers carried guns and wore body armor because that is the only combination that ensures freedom.
People in high places want to brainwash us into thinking our men and women in the service are defending our freedom in Afghanistan, Iraq, and places in between. They aren’t. They are just feeding the already bloated budget of a military-industrial complex that is preventing us from enjoying safety here at home. While their budgets increase, it should be noted in cities all across this nation, the police and other first responders have seen theirs slashed.
Last night it was Las Vegas. Tomorrow, it could be any of a number of cities across this nation where someone else decides to leave this world in a blaze of sick glory. It might be a public school, local church, shopping center, or public concert. There is no way to stop Americans from doing what they are doing because we are ignoring what is really most important to our freedom and that is a sense of purpose.
When we live with a stagnating economy that continues to move away from the old ways of doing things to newer ways that require fewer people and more machines, we lack purpose. We no longer are free to choose from as many choices that I had when I went to college 35 years ago. If technology does not interest you, prepare yourself to be left behind in this world.
If you are sick and you see your government trying as hard as it can to cut back on the services people need, including mental health, you have to stop and wonder what is the point of living by the rules of a society that is turning its back on you.
You know it is easier to get your hands on a gun than it is to get an appointment with a mental health provider. You are raised in a society that craves violence in so many forms of entertainment it has forgotten what violence is. Who cares if you solve your problems with violence, especially if you do the world a favor and take your life in the process?
When the president has no regard for the free speech rights of others and then regularly tweets out lies or messages deliberately designed to anger the masses, it should not surprise us when a gunman goes bat shit crazy in a major city. It should not surprise us if others decide to go after our government leaders. And here is the really sick part, should they ever succeed and say take out our current president, the NRA and others would still try to scare us into purchasing more guns.
We have a Second Amendment that ensures the right to own guns. However, there is this idea among the gun manufacturers and most ardent gun owners that there should never be any limits placed on this amendment. They seem to forget there are limits on all other amendments and in fact, these gun owners are often the first to demand them on things like free speech, free religion, and equal rights to all citizens.
Freedom is not being free to do whatever you damn well choose. It’s about respecting the same rights and opportunities of the people you do not agree with politically or socially. It’s about refusing to marginalize people based on their skin color, way of life, age, or illness. Freedom is knowing you can be an outsider who speaks out and will not be the victim of violence or discrimination.
We do not live in a free society, at least one that is not as free as it was a generation ago. We have sold out to the military mindset that has us policing the world to the point we can no longer feel safe within our borders, thanks to the many needs of a diverse populace going unmet for far too long. We are being led to believe the only way to combat the ills we face is to part with more of our personal freedoms while we should take a proactive response and arm ourselves to the hilt.
This is not freedom; it is paranoia.
Are we freer today since 9/11? Gun sales have skyrocketed and so has violence in our major cities. We have an epidemic of drug overdoses thanks to a generation of men and women who lost all reason to work hard when they saw their life savings ripped off by Wall Street officials who never faced any criminal punishment.
We can’t afford college but are told we need not just a four year degree, but an advanced degree, if we want to enjoy the American dream of long work weeks and constant debt.
If you think I am being a bit too dramatic, ask yourself if you think what happened in Vegas might not end up happening in cities like Houston or Miami when citizens there finally give up on a government that failed to respond to their needs after their recent storms. Think of the frustrated youth who graduate from our high schools, unable to handle college, unfit to join a bloated military, and unable to find work unless it is flipping burgers.
Maybe it is the pessimist in me, maybe it is the person who has remembered too many “shocking” shootings only to see a month later something worse happen, but mark my words, it is over.
Our freedom is under attack only it isn’t from an unseen enemy from a far off land. It is being taken away by unseen enemies, some of whom live just down the street from you and me.
Photos are YouTube screenshots
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.