ODDS AND ENDS (THAT ARE MOSTLY ODD)

Pope Francis recent visits to the Americas and to the U.S. were considered overwhelming successes by most people in this country as well as those throughout the hemispheres. But there is a large contingent in the U.S., of mainly Republicans and other far-right-wing dingbats that were quite upset about many of the Pope’s remarks and, accordingly, bad-mouthed his actions. The Pope shockingly seemed to put all his emphasis on helping the poor, and his worst heresy was actually advocating to save the ecology of this planet from further desecration. My God, what was he thinking. Surely he must have known that that when Jesus walked the Earth he wore nothing but the finest silk robes embroidered with gold and expensive jewels such as diamonds and rubies. That he and his entourage would only stay in the most elite 5-star hotels. And that his preaching and sermonizing were almost always before corporate CEOs, Boards of Directors, and Hedge Fund Managers where he invariably advocated for trickle-down economics and tax cuts for the rich. No, you say? It was just the opposite? That he and his disciples wore mainly rags and slept in open fields or where some follower could provide them with sleeping quarters. That his sermons always seemed to focus on assisting the poor. Imagine that. It might explain why this pope (unlike previous ones) is so emphatic about identifying and being critical of the worst abuses of our capitalistic form of economics which so heavily tilts toward the rich. Who knows? Some people living outside of right-wing looney-tunesville might actually take his words to heart.

With yet the latest atrocity being committed at a rustic Oregon school by, once again, another deranged individual, the subject of gun control, as always, springs to the forefront. President Obama and other assorted liberals take to the podiums to, predictably decry our appalling lack of gun control legislation, while the National Rifle Association and other gun nuts say the problem is too few guns, and that any tightening of gun control laws would be a violation of their infamous Second Amendment rights. And, sadly, it’s the gun nuts that always seem to carry the day. But there is one set of statistics that need to be pounded into American heads if any progress is to be achieved. At 320 million, the U.S. comprises less than 5% of the world’s population. Yet more than 50% of all the guns that exist on this planet reside in the U.S. That explains it all. The U.S. is awash with guns so that the ensuing chaos that gun proliferation causes, comes as no surprise. A new book on gun control, just out, refers to this situation as the “wellspring of crazy.” It’s hard to top that phrase for imagery.

The main problem here is that the U.S. has a gun fetish. A fetish is a compulsion so strong, that most people that have them cannot rid themselves of it. For example, there are many sexual fetishes such as bondage, sado-masochism, spanking, etc. that are used in role playing. Most are harmless and rarely lead to adverse consequences. But a gun fetish is something else. It becomes a total exercise in fanaticism as shown in the expression of many gun owners that, “if they come after my gun, they’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead fingers.” The American gun fetish probably began when the West was being settled, and the settlers had to often fight off Indian raids or outlaws. Those threats are now gone, but the fetish lives on.

Gun advocates like to point out that those jurisdictions that do have strict gun control laws, like New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago, often have the highest crime and murder rates to go along with those laws. They aver that no matter how strict gun laws are, the bad guys will always be able to get their hands on these weapons. But that argument is superfluous. It does little good for one place to have strict gun laws, if one can merely take a short ride into the next jurisdiction and buy all the guns he or she desires. If Illinois has strict gun control, a short hop over to Indiana will remedy that situation. To be effective gun control must blanket the entire country. One other oddity to those killings in Oregon. One of those murdered was a professor that had relocated to these Oregon boondocks from N.Y. City. I’m sure he felt he was getting out one of largest crime hubs of the country, into the safety of some backwater Rubesville. Funny how fate is always determined to play out the cards it’s holding.

One last item. In the on-going, never-ending war in Afghanistan, the U.S. has just bombed a hospital run by the humanitarian organization known as “Doctors-Without-Borders.” Over 20 people were killed in this brainless, mind-boggling act of ineptitude and carelessness. We could chalk it up to collateral damage, as the war advocates proclaim. I would sooner chalk it up to futility of war in general, however, and U.S. impotence in defeating the Taliban thugs and serial killers we’ve been fighting against-14 years later since we began that war. Although there undoubtably have been wars since the beginning of mankind, the first war recorded in history occurred over 4700 years ago. Not much has changed since then, except for maybe the weaponry.

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