I am not feeling particularly well these last few days. In addition to the usual depression that is just an everlasting companion these last years, and the hay fever due to my neighbour not having harvested the hay yet, several joints have decided to act up so I cannot work properly. And I do not feel like discussing partisan politics this week except to say fuck all politicians and political ideologies across the spectrum left right and center – sideways.
However this is my hundredth post on Affinity and despite the number being completely arbitrary, I thought it should be about something more substantial than about strawberries misbehaving.
The whole issue of sharp and pointy objects has got me thinking more than one time throughout my life. When I was a kid I was being told that I will be allowed to handle sharp things from the age of ten years. I looked forward to it. For my tenth birthday I got a small pocket knife and my father has taught me how to sharpen it and how to properly care for it. In our household a sharp knife is really sharp and a blunted knife is what usually gets called sharp by many people I know. I had a knife somewhere around my person ever since.
I really like knives, daggers, machetes, axes and swords. I also like bows and crossbows. I am not collecting either, but I would like to make some of each and when I do make them, I will take care to make them not only functional, but beautiful too.
However there is no denying that all these objects are potential murder weapons. Some of them are indeed optimised for being a weapon, whilst others can have as a primary function being a tool.
I would like to know where this fascination with dangerous things comes from. My take on the issue is that it si far more common than people might realize at first thought. For example many of the most aesthetically appreciated animals are very finely tuned killing machines. Many people like cats and a person who does not appreciate the beauty of a tiger or a leopard would be a rare specimen indeed. Dragons and dinosaurs are very popular among kids and they are not known for being fluffy and cuddly.
This has brought me in a roundabout way to thinking how is liking knives different from liking guns and how is that in turn different from liking squids? And my take on the thing is, that not too much, if at all.
The important thing is not what one does like, but what one does about it. A gun collector or skeet shooter is just as normal as a sword collector or a fencer, and they all are just as normal as a stamp collector. The difference is in how people are conditioned by culture about dealing with the specific issue – both from the point of the enthusiast, and from the point of of the general populace. Some hobbies are frowned on, some are viewed as harmless oddities, some are reviled, some admired. And accordingly some people are reclusive about their hobbies, whilst others engage in them publicly and proudly.
And this is what makes the american gun nuts such a big problem. The difference between a gun nut and me is not that they are someone “other”.
It is not that they like guns and like to collect them and/or tinker with them. Gun/weapons collectors and enthusiasts are in every country around the world and nowhere, regardless of how strict/lax the laws are, are they a problem of the magnitude one sees in the US.
It is not that they think about their weapons in terms of how dangerous they are and how optimised for doing harm they are. I do that too and I do not believe that anyone who has ever held a sharp knife in their hand has never thought about it.
It is not that they think about how they could use their weapons in self-defense should the need arise. Whoever has ever been on the receiving end of violence will think about what they will do next to minimise the harm to themselves and their loved ones.
It is the culture that has elevated owning murder instruments onto a right in itself, sanctifying it and worshiping it, that pushes otherwise normal people over the border of normality into the land of the dangerous. It is the culture that makes people actually wishing to use the weapons against other people, instead of dreading that it might come to that.
In a culture where carrying a sword was similarly held in high esteem, and where dueling for the slightest offence would be considered not only normal, but positively desired a different problem might arise – instead of an epidemic of mass shootings an epidemic of dueling, where the young and hopeful would waste their lives pointlessly at the end of a sharp piece of steel.
And you know what? That scenario ain’t fictional. And it took both legislative change and a shift in culture to deal with the problem.