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The Gun - a failed symbol of power

The power of America since the second world war is indisputable. Achieved through weapons, propaganda, and money, this power is as oppressive to the people who wield it as it is towards the designated enemy.

When a young gunman enters Sandy Hook Elementary School and kills twenty children, the world grieves.  We struggle to find answers to questions, too big to grasp.

But the issue is larger than guns themselves. It is what they represent in our psychology. The phallic symbol representing male fertility has been worshiped in various ways for centuries.  Since we have learned that fertility requires more than one member, we are required to understand the complexity of nature.  So effective, healthy masculinity is no longer served by the worship of a phallus any more than femininity is represented by a uterus.  Yet phallic symbols exist everywhere in images of power.

Once power was idealized as a heavenly distant god, a monarch, a ruler or military might, it separated its true nature from the power of life.  Nature, life, became the object to conquer, to dominate, to exploit. Our sexuality became a political tool, and the feminine symbol of cycles, circles, and vessels were dropped, while the phallus was made immortal by metal. Complexity, emotion and human nature was seen as weak. A man was required not just to be courageous in defending his tribe but by immortalizing himself as part of an army, a soldier.  He had to become super-human as being human was not good enough. Later he became a sword, a gun, a bomb, an aircraft. Or a minister to the divine weapon interpreting the universe through a harsh patriarchal ruler, and was required to wipe out the realities of existence, the doubts, the humanity, through staunch doctrines that require unquestioning obedience.

I am not saying this is God.  I am not attempting to explain God, but to separate divine power from the doctrines that have ruled our societies for centuries:  the corruption of the universe to serve an ideology. So the gun as the ultimate phallic symbol destroys life at its spiritual base first and then destroys fertility, whether it be new life or creativity.

The world's great religions began with men who changed their world through insight and courage and who  triumphed over mortality through resurrection into the afterlife. They mostly preached a reverence for life, not that man should transcend it. Their messages have been corrupted too, in order to fit the ruling ideology.

Men who are born here are not gods, just as women are not goddesses. We are human and mortal. We can be harmed by war, famine, climate change, abuse, torture and broken hearts. Wealth or fame does not nullify our existence. Neither does it exalt it.

We have, for the most part, gotten over the phallic symbol.  Guns do not fertilize. They intimidate. They turn men into robots. They kill.  But mostly they kill creativity, sensitivity, empathy, reason, exploration, love, joy.  They render us powerless to be who we are or could be.  They render life redundant.

But life contains confusion, pain, sorrow.  We are vulnerable to the emotional weather this brings and if we don't receive the care we need when despair falls heavy around us, we can't process it.  Certainly not in a culture that values things more than life, that preaches we are worth the sum of our gadgets and diplomas, and are required to prove ourselves not just with an inventory of these things, but with more than everyone else.  This breeds despair and contempt for our own lives and the lives of children and all those who have less power than we at any given moment. Reason tells us that we can't all be winners. And so we can't be comforted by our mothers, fathers, siblings and teachers.

It's this despair that rots our culture and makes some of our brothers so alienated they seek validation in guns. In this delusional state we shall hasten our own demise, and ultimately the womb we call the universe shall carry on without us.


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