US Society And Its Perpetual ‘Settling Disputes With Guns’ Cowboy Culture

Posted by Ranjeet Menon in GlobeScope, Society
February 19, 2018

Another gun-shooting incident in a school happened in the US, a couple of days back. Yet, the reactions seem to become more and more muted with each such incident. It is human nature to ‘get used to’ incidents and situations when we come across them more frequently – never mind the fact that this time, school children were being shot and killed.

The reactions do flood social media for a few days. Then, they die down. I don’t know how each such incident reverberates through the US – but far away, in my place, such incidents are of no significance because they usually don’t happen here (in India).

I do not think school children are shot and killed this frequently anywhere else in the world. A 19-year-old goes back to the school which had expelled him (because of behavorial issues) and starts shooting! The irony is that children are sent to school not only for their education but also to mould their behaviour and personalities.

In my opinion, there is something more sinister that is going on in schools in the US. Predation (sexual or otherwise) of teenage students by teachers in their schools is rising significantly. This is just an indicator that the entire education system in the US is falling apart.

There is a vast difference in how children are brought up in the West and in countries like India. For example, from what I have seen and to the best of my knowledge, most toddlers in the West go out only in prams. Parents/nannies often do not (and in some cases, are not allowed to) hold or touch them in public places. Evidently, children start losing the ‘human touch’ very early. They have to do chores at home in return for pocket money – and once they are old enough, they go out to work after school. Giving them this level of freedom so early in their lives – and expecting them to be mature beyond their age – are the reasons which, I believe, are creating behavorial issues in them. This is mainly because in many cases, they end up idolising the wrong person, besides identifying with the wrong aspects of life.

I am not claiming that this system is entirely wrong. The US has become the hub of innovation because the best minds need this space and freedom to thrive and blossom – and they have built an ecosystem where the best minds can come together and work. The best minds in India do not get this space and freedom because life for us is at the other extremity – which is why there is a continuous brain-drain from India to the US. What I am saying is that, be it in the US or in India, children should be monitored more closely. People who are going to rise above the general population are going to show those signs from an early age. They are the ones who need to grow and mature early. In comparison, the rest of the crowd, in my opinion, do not need that much space and freedom. After all, we often have a tendency to not appreciate and respect when we get what we do not deserve to get.

Now, how do kids get guns? If the native American history is not taken into account, the modern US society is still very young. The gun- slinging cowboy culture is very much a part of their cultural history. There was a time when they preferred to settle all disputes and fights with guns. So, a majority of the people needed to have guns. In that context, Clint Eastwood’s cowboy character, “The man with no name”, will perhaps be revered forever.

But, the times have changed. Clearly, guns are not needed for people to survive anymore. Then, why are guns still available for everyone? After the dollar became the currency of the US, guns were bought by paying in dollars. Gun manufacturers like Smith & Wesson, Winchester and Gatlin started making loads of money from selling guns and bullets. Smith & Wesson became specialists in pistol manufacturing, Winchester in rifles. Gatlin brought out the machine gun.

Once you know something is making you money in heaps, how can you let it go? So, gradually, a gun lobby came to the fore that started working actively to ensure that a ban or restriction on gun sale isn’t enforced. Today, their pockets run seemingly deep and politicians need money to run for the elections. It is this happy marriage between the two that has existed to this day. Every POTUS talks about gun control, especially after every shooting incident – but nothing happens, thenceforth. The equation is very simple: cost of a gun + the cost of a bullet = cost of a life.

World War I was supposedly fought as the ‘war to end all wars’. But the Armistice that was signed at the end of the war paved the way for another war on a more gigantic scale. In any conflict, the arms manufacturers are the biggest beneficiaries. They sell to all parties in the conflict – as shown in the movie “Iron Man”. Once enough destruction has been caused, the conflict is brought under control. Then, the financial institutions move in to invest and rebuild the destroyed infrastructure – which, in turn, makes those governments remain in perpetual debt to them.

They cannot be blamed though. Human beings have always been in conflict with one another – be it among individuals or in the name of religion, caste, skin colour and a 1000 other reasons. We have never had any value for the lives of our fellow beings. It is just that some among us have figured out ways to make ourselves rich and powerful by becoming part of our conflicts.

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Featured image source: Nikolas Cruz/Instagram