While looking at gun-related stories earlier, I came across one that asked people of different faiths if the American interest in firearms was idolatry. Now, as a Christian myself, I was curious to find what people thought.
I had my ideas of what I’d find, of course, but one of the responses just outright infuriated me.
See, while most of those they talked to about it recognized that there’s no actual worship of firearms, one person both failed to answer the actual question and managed to show just how idiotic they were on the topic itself. It was kind of impressive, really.
David Gardiner – Buddhist
David Gardiner is an associate professor in the Colorado College Religion Department, specializing in Buddhism and religions of China and Japan, and is co-founder and director of BodhiMind Center.
I believe the relationship many Americans have with guns is pathological. Not all gun owners idolize their possession, but those who do suffer from insecurity, paranoia, susceptibility to conspiracy theories, likely racism and other disorders. Similarly, some idolize the power of the military and police to keep our world and communities safe. Missing is a consensus to care for one another just as we care for ourselves. We have a violence fetish in America that profoundly damages our individual and collective well-being. As some bible scholars say, perhaps one source is the image of the angry, retributive God of the Hebrew bible that remains strong in our Christianity, despite Jesus’ teaching to turn the other cheek, to practice forgiveness. Regardless, we need to grow.
Now, first, I’m always amused when a non-Christian seems to try to lecture Christians in how to Christian correctly. Usually it’s atheists that try to do it, at least in my experience, but a Buddhist doing it doesn’t surprise me.
However, what really pisses me off is the first sentence in his response. “I believe the relationship many Americans have with guns is pathological,” Gardiner said.
Just how is it pathological? Our relationship with firearms, even if you’re susceptible to conspiracy theories or what have you, is not a pathology. Maybe the susceptibility is, but the relationship with guns? Hardly.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who view gun ownership in general as precisely that. A pathology. An illness.
Yet there’s no reason ever given why one’s “relationship” with firearms is, itself, pathological. I mean, no one says Jay Leno’s obsession over vintage cars is pathological. This despite the fact that automobiles claim more lives every year than firearms and the man seems to have taken car collecting to a different level than most could ever dream.
No one seems to call the Beanie Baby collectors of the world “pathological.” The same for those who collect coins or stamps or baseball cards. They’re just collectors. There’s nothing pathological there.
Nor is there anything pathological about owning guns. Sure, some who are a bit paranoid may wish to own firearms for their own personal safety from whatever it is they’re paranoid about, but if that paranoia is dangerous, there are ways to get that person help.
On the same token, though, taking your personal safety seriously is hardly pathological. It’s smart. The police can’t be everywhere at any given point, which means the odds of them being right where you need them to be right when you need them there are slim to none. It’s on you to protect yourself and it always has been.
The problem we have in this country can, oddly, be summed up by a different respondent to the above-linked article. Arnie Bass, who is a bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints (Mormons, as they’re more commonly known) started off, “For the criminals it is the ‘Glock,’ not ‘God.’”
Or issues are with criminals, not guns. It would be nice if we would start focusing our attentions there.