Written By: Jackson Thomas
Using Weapons to Attack Words
The picture of this wolf/bear/man thing is one of many default image templates offered on a create-your-own-blog website I recently discovered. It’s semi-cool, in a Lord of the Rings-meets Serenity-meets Highlander-meets American Werewolf in Paris kind of way. The artwork is intriguing, with many layers and excellent use of shadow and detail. I like it; but I don’t. It’s too depressing. Look at that sad bastard, alone and miserable. He’s killed everyone; the eyes of the dead watch as he wanders the wastelands of eternal solitude – his own, personal hell.
There can be no doubt that he is victorious in his endeavor. This creature has dominated friend and foe alike and is the only one remaining. Yet, there is no glory here. No one will build any statues in his name or write stories about him. There is no one to celebrate victory with. He is alone. He is probably very hungry. It’s likely he will die soon. There is no glory here.
This is important.
A revolution should not take its citizens backwards. It has happened too many times. The darkness spreads, overtaking the light, as words such as liberty, freedom and empathy flicker in the wind of change. Language begins to deteriorate. Words are switched to mean the opposite of what they once did. Ignorance becomes power and the antithesis of evolution begins.
Once the siege of darkness has begun it must be contained, so someone takes up arms and overthrows a city or two, then a country, and so on; always for reform, usually in the name of a specific god they’ve defined to justify their cause. Others react in opposition, battles ensue, and a huge group of the population is wiped out. Then we rebuild and start over.
Killing is not romantic or glorious. It is something to be avoided unless absolutely necessary. We should have learned this from The Iliad. It speaks of fate, time, power and corruption. It deals with gods and consciousness, men and honor – things we still speak of today – and it was written almost three thousand years ago.
In their muddled cause, supposedly for “the glory of the gods,” both sides invoked heavenly allegiance. But how many lost their lives due to the treachery of Paris or the moral corruption of Agamemnon? What were they really fighting for: the gods or the glory of man?
Are these inseparable? The gods were mysterious forces personified and worshiped by the ancient Greeks. They were revered because they were feared. Looking back, their gods seem more like bored, spoiled children playing a game than models for divinity. Were these the ideas and standards that humans held their morals to back then? Do we hold these same standards now?
Yet, glory can come from war. The idea of changing history and righting a legitimate moral wrong is an honorable one. Soldiers fight and die with honor and courage for the ideas of freedom and liberty and morality. I appreciate every person who has served with valor in the name of his or her brothers in arms. We must remember not to cast blame on those who sacrifice everything for us due to the actions of so-called leaders who hide behind them and whisper in their ears like the serpent in the garden.
Still, if one wants to be a soldier one should join the military as opposed to taking up arms against civilians or calling for outright revolution, as if we live in Boston and it’s time to see if tea floats in the harbor. Anarchy within this modern society would destroy more lives than it would help. Christopher Nolan demonstrates this to everyone in the new Batman film. When Selena Kyle’s friend complains about how things have turned out with Bane in control of Gotham, Kyle replies, “Isn’t this what you wanted?”
An important message. One could argue it’s the ethos of the entire trilogy summed up in one line, and it’s almost a throwaway line for Hathaway, whose role is a supporting one. Brilliant. The sad thing is I’m not even sure that is a verbatim quote. I was too busy looking around suspiciously at everyone in the theater, which brings me to this:
Some people seem to believe it to be their quest, duty, mission, or whatever, to go on a shooting spree. It has happened, yet again, this time at a spa in Wisconsin. For reasons I cannot fully comprehend, this seems to be an increasing trend.
Perhaps these individuals want to show everyone that the “bullies” can be taken down a notch. Maybe they feel like victims in a terrible world, alone and isolated like the creature in the picture above, before he put on his armor and got to killin’. It’s possible they feel or see some “evil” in the world and they want to stop it. Maybe some do it for the notoriety, like Mickey and Mallory Knox. I do not have the answer.
It seems, regardless of circumstance, these are people who want to be heard. When one attempts to shout over millions of shouting people, being recognized over the noise seems like a monumental task. Their reality turns into “No one else cares.” They feel something is horribly wrong, but no one will listen. Or worse, the ones who do listen don’t hear, or only hear what they want. If they disagree, they choose to belittle and demean rather than engage in respectful dialogue like civilized human beings.
Dialectic is as dead as the gadfly of Athens. Manners and respect are considered uncool. It seems to be acceptable now to humiliate anyone for any perceived weakness or flaw. The social media tends to encourage it, all for fleeting moments of attention.
So what then?
For people who do not have a rational or appropriate response, they pick up a gun and let it speak for them. Because, who wouldn’t stop and pay attention when confronted by something so formidable? When a shot fired from a gun overpowers the voice of the man wielding it, you know you have a serious case of communication breakdown.
Yet through these random acts of violence any valid message they may have had is lost. You can’t take someone seriously when they go on a killing spree. This is known, though, so what drives the reprehensible action? Change? Were these people too busy listening to the music to hear John Lennon’s message? “When you talk about destruction, don’t you know that you can count me out?”
The forecasted and famed-zombie apocalypse has not occurred. Now is not the time for random battles on the street. Doc Holiday is not your huckleberry. Rambo does not need help. The Force does not adhere to your will and you will never, ever own a functioning light saber. We live in a boring world, but this is our reality. Some people, apparently, still need to be reminded of this.
I really am just a simple creature, but I believe if you want to change the world the last thing you need is a weapon. You need only an open mind, a healthy dose of empathy, and the ability to listen and communicate. When you listen and understand, and attempt to see things from someone else’s perspective, you gain the ability to have an actual conversation with them. Talk to enough people and you realize that regardless of age, race, sex, religion, wealth, etc., we all tend to tell different variations of the same stories. “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”
We are all brothers and sisters. They understood this after the Civil War. This picture contains two views of a scene located on the back of a monument in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Coincidentally, it was built to honor the fallen soldiers from Wisconsin during the Siege of Vicksburg. I stumbled onto it during a trip about three weeks ago. I never expected to have a use for it. The latest shooting proved me wrong.
What’s that line about a thousand words?