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Thinking and Praying about Thoughts and Prayers

"Mutually Reassured Delusion absolves everyone."

I've been Thinking and Praying about Thoughts and Prayers, a solipsistic activity which extends no further than my eyebrows and no deeper than my neckline. It's a genuine echo chamber in there, with thoughts chasing prayers, then prayers chasing thoughts until the distinctions between them degrade into an oily, waxy substance that hardly flows at all. I seem more stuck now, mired in self-reference. Had I the wisdom of any second-rate god, I might have resolved this conundrum by now, but the more I think and the more I pray, the more I seem compelled to pray and the less productive my thinking seems to become. I feel like a genuine recursive mess, hoping to produce something useful, perhaps a solution, but at this point, I'd settle for a second-rate resolution. Negotiating the first SALT treaty could not have been as difficult as dealing with the damned gun lobby, and that involved uniformed Russians! And, as every school kid learned in the fifties, you can always trust a communist to be a communist, but even then, they agreed to reduce their weapons in exchange for us agreeing to reduce ours.

Sometimes, something like a Christian comity emerges between two avowed enemies, a mutual back-scratch; an 'I will if you will' agreement.
Nobody loses anything, since strategic positioning hardly changes at all, preserving the real possibility of mutual destruction, but both the guys in sack suits and their Brooks Brothers counterparts staged a celebration of sorts, with attendees pocketing the signing pens for keepsakes worthy of passing on to the grandchildren, in the renewed belief that they would have grandchildren to receive them. The world felt genuinely safer then, though this sensation remained more feeling than factual. Nobody had agreed to come to their senses, and their agreement wisely avoided suggesting any such thing. The mutual delusional capacity remained unaffected, and everybody went home happy, to scrutinize their latest designs for new weapons which would either not outright violate the new treaty or stealthily stalk beneath the radar.

One country's offensive weapons are another's defensive ones. What might well have been developed for security, eventually breeds a self-fulfilling insecurity. I have mine because you have yours, and you've proven untrustworthy in the past. You reciprocate by not trusting me with mine, too. We create a mutually assured delusion of security, with sincerely unintended consequences solaced with sincere thoughts and prayers. A mistake, a stupid accident by a junior maintenance guy in a silo somewhere, could easily be interpreted as a strategic threat. A strategic threat could always be explained away as a junior maintenance guy stumbling on a stairway somewhere out on the Great Plains. Both sides maintain their stockpile, an inventory of essentially useless weapons which might or might not encourage anyone to sleep more soundly at night. That stockpile eventually fades into baseline background, forgotten ante in a high stakes game nobody wants to lose, but which nobody could ever win. It's a stupid standoff where the acceptable form of security leaves everyone imperiled.

I should not be surprised if, given this absurdly paranoid background, every dog and his mother feels as if they need a little security stockpile of their own, a home version of that game they saw on TV. A weapon here, merely for personal security, mind you, properly stored in a safe, far away from the kiddies' impressionable curiosity, worn, perhaps, surreptitiously in the odd event that the opportunity might arise to suddenly become that much-touted Good Guy With A Gun. The Methhead down the street takes similar precautions, self-preservation prominent in what's left of his mind. So does that whacko supremacist across town, that loner who never quite hit it off with the ladies and developed a grudge against himself. They're all armed against a mutually assured delusion that only occasionally ever boils over, thoughts and prayers always at the ready to reassure anyone troubled by the mess that everything's gonna be alright. It's nobody's fault, you see, if only because it's everybody's fault. Fault demands a specific boogieman, a clearly culpable somebody to absorb the blame. Another loner must have been acting on his own delusional volition. I guess he thought that he'd show them! Who, exactly, was them, anyway?

I admit that I might be the biggest fool of all, for I do not own either a defensive or offensive weapon. I'm stockpile-less in a world filled with stockpiles. I walk the streets at night utterly unarmed and, curiously, unafraid. I figure that I might have missed the memo, but the second amendment didn't really seem to apply to me. I feed deer with my backyard flora, so I don't even need a
haunting rifle in my personal arsenal. I figure that carrying a weapon seems to attract others carrying weapons, that even without anyone intending anything, something sometimes happens that would never happen if nobody was carrying any weapon. Should I shoot somebody, I'd have to deal with the aftermath, and that math doesn't quite add up for me. Eye for an eye seems so Old Testament now. My not owning a personal arsenal absolves me of nothing. It doesn't elevate me a click above the rest of our stumbling society. Not a click!

Maybe we as a society have been poisoned by our entertainments. We blow each other up with our video games. We find violence the most attractive diversion. After a long day at the office, we can take off those walking shoes, put up our feet, and, over dinner, watch people blow each other to smithereens, with prescription medications intended to treat the burgeoning ennui advertised between segments. How much more satisfying could any evening be? I've learned to believe what I see on TV, that it represents The Good Life, or at least Real Life, an existence I could hardly be blamed for mistaking for reality. On TV, a threat always appears. On TV, there's almost always a Good Guy With A Gun to eventually save the day well before the final credits roll. Why wouldn't I want to emulate every Good Guy With A Gun?

I'm too busy Thinking and Praying about Thoughts and Prayers to maintain any kind of half-decent personal stockpile of offensive/defensive weapons. I can't trust myself with a freaking belt sander, for cripes sake. I have no business holding a gun. The mere act of owning one would implicate me as part of the problem. Some insist that it's all the fault of our mental health professionals who, if they were properly deployed, could identify the rotten apples and secure them. Most mental health professionals, though, would evaluate those feeling the need to maintain a personal stockpile as delusional and might feel professionally compelled to recommend that they be secured. The Public would demand that the mental health professionals be locked up, I suppose. I've been Thinking and Praying about Thoughts and Prayers. Mutually Reassured Delusion absolves everyone.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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