Saturday, March 09, 2013

"Guns don't kill people, people do"

This common saying last night brought to mind "The Wind in the Willows," which you should read if you have overlooked it up to now, specifically the relationship of Mr Toad of Toad Hall to motorcars - a new and exciting toy in 1908.  After he had bought and smashed six, Toad's friends - Badger, Rat, and Mole - sent away the seventh and locked Toad into his room, whence he eventually escaped and found his way to an inn for lunch.

He was about halfway through his meal when an all too familiar sound, approaching down the street, made him start and fall a-trembling all over.  The poop-poop drew nearer and nearer, the car could be heard to turn into the inn-yard and come to a stop, and Toad had to hold on to the leg of the table to restrain his overmastering emotion.  Presently the party entered the coffee-room, hungry, talkative and gay, voluble on their experiences of the morning and the merits of the chariot that had brought them along so well.  Toad listened eagerly, all ears for a time; at last he could stand it no longer.  He slipped out of the room quietly, paid his bill at the bar, and as soon as he got outside sauntered round quietly to the inn-yard.  "There cannot be any harm," he said to himself, "in my only just looking at it."

The car stood in the middle of the yard, quite unattended, the stable-helps and other hangers-on being all at their dinner.  Toad walked slowly round it, inspecting, criticizing, musing deeply.

"I wonder," he said to himself presently, "I wonder if this sort of car starts easily?"

Next moment, hardly knowing how it came about, he found he had hold of the handle and was turning it.  As the familiar sound broke forth, the old passion seized on Toad and completely mastered him, body and soul.  As if in a dream he found himself, somehow, seated in the driver's seat; as if in a dream, he pulled the lever and swung the car round the yard and out through the archway; and, as if in a dream, all sense of right and wrong, all fear of obvious consequences, seemed temporarily suspended.  He increased his pace, and as the car devoured the street and leapt forth on the high road through the open country, he was only conscious that he was Toad once more, Toad at his best and highest, Toad the terror, Toad the traffic-queller, the Lord of the lone trail, to whom all must give way or be smitten into nothingness and everlasting night.

To imagine that our tools are inanimate things wholly under our control that do nothing on their own is preposterous.  We begin by using them, but very soon they are using us.  Cars, guns, governments, money, and countless other forms of mammon make us dependent on them and even use us as vehicles for their own growth and reproduction, like viruses hijacking the machinery of our cells to churn out copies of themselves.

To a biblical person, well aware that Mammon is a god that is worshiped, none of this is news.  

There's nothing wrong with any of these tools in their place, but it's not so easy to keep them in their place.  The basic problem going back to Adam is that not being subject to God ourselves, we do subject the earth to our purpose, and with our tools, but not to bring it into subjection to God along with our selves.  Instead we subject it to ourselves as a means to finance our own independence from God, which is to say the truth.  And our fitting judgment is that we are enslaved instead by our tools that we are using for that purpose.

Everywhere we look, our tools are out of control.  Dwight Eisenhower warned in 1961 that the military-industrial complex was in danger of capturing and overthrowing the American republic, and that has been pretty well accomplished.  The tools of our civilization have disturbed the climate and trashed the earth we live on, and that process is accelerating, with no one able to get into the engine room to even slow down the train.  

Toad's problem is a laughable exaggeration, but his addiction to cars is indeed addiction to the illusion of power, and that addiction fuels the love of guns, which is most evident in Americans that feel - quite rightly - that they are losing power.  There's no sense in singling them out.  

Remember that when George Bush was blustering like the Antichrist, seating himself and the United States on God's throne with such statements as "Whoever is not with us is against us," promising to "eradicate evil," 90% of Americans approved.  Simple arithmetic discloses that an awful lot of those had to include many of the people now sneering and jeering at the NASCAR crowd and the gun lovers.  Those "progressives," who today are mostly all in with Obama's assertion of the right to kill or imprison anyone for any reason or for no reason - figuring, I guess, that it will never be them - were mostly in that 90% enjoying the feeling that by bombing and invading all over the world, America would be "America once more, America at its best and highest, America the terror, America the traffic-queller, the Lord of the lone trail, to whom all must give way or be smitten into nothingness and everlasting night."  

It goes back to Adam.  We all have this problem.    


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