Perhaps you’ve heard the old vaudeville joke: A stick-em-up man approaches a well-dressed guy on the street, pulls out his pistol, and says, “Your money or your life!” The victim just stands there, as nervous laughter begins to swell in the audience, until finally the robber snaps, “Well?”
“I’m thinking, I’m thinking!” says the victim.
Do our societies want to survive? The answer is not so clear. School shootings and other gun massacres come so thick and fast these days that they don’t necessarily make the national news anymore. The only reason the “incident” in Newport News grabbed the momentary attention of a distracted nation was that the shooter was six years old, and teacher Abigail Zwerner, all of twenty-five herself, heroically made sure that all the other kids got safely out of the classroom before leaving herself and getting medical attention. Why would anyone wish to become a teacher these days, and expose herself to such hazards to life and limb, a dystopian landscape wherein the smallest tyke may be “carrying”? The demands of the American public and politicians for our underfunded public schools to solve all the ills of American society have never been more unreasonable, and the question still remains how long the vast majority of Americans are going to put up with the terrorist threat from virtually unregulated, powerful weapons of war being made available on demand to almost anybody. Guns are so prevalent that even people who are clearly not supposed to have them such as convicted criminals, or in this case, very young children, can easily get hold of them and commit mayhem.
The Trumpist-with-a-smile, MAGA Governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin, of course expressed great sorrow and proposed to improve school security, but not heaven forbid, to do a damn thing to start disarming a society gone mad. Only a madman would even think such a thing is possible, now that the House of Representatives is firmly under the control of the MAGAs and their very own Marshal Pétain, Kevin McCarthy.
But the problem is far broader. The federal government is letting the main putsch plotters, from Trump on down, get away with it so they can plan their next violent takeover. A country beset with unheard-of winter tornadoes, floods, and droughts refuses even to contemplate the radical action that is necessary to bring the global climate back into some kind of balance. The international action needed to stop fascist Russia’s invasion of Ukraine from destroying any semblance of global order and peace is largely absent. So I ask again, do our societies really wish to survive? And the silence I hear under the cacophony sounds an awful lot like the answer.