I’ve obviously changed a lot since moving to NZ. I hate how tooting-my-own-horn this sounds, but I like the changes. Both my theological and political views have been sharpened.
I used to be a cookie-cutter, conservative, two-issue-voter (you know which ones), republican-Christian. Now I’m a liberal-conservative (in a centred, rather than fence-sitting way), wide-screen voter (because all issues are ‘moral’, not just two), moderate Christian.
What was involved in the change? Well, I think I had to breathe different cultural air than I was breathing back in the buckle of the Bible-belt. Only people without lungs are truly affected by trying to breathe underwater. You only react to daylight when you suddenly step outside with eyes that have adjusted to the pitch black room you’ve been in. You can see a lot better where you’ve been when you’re no longer there, but are somewhere along the trail looking back.
I think I was so regularly exposed to certain domains of discourse that I didn’t learn to critique the view I held. This air I was breathing was hot with fear. My wife and I tasted the tang of this fear when we visited the US a few years back and ‘ObamaCare’ was being discussed… no… damned… on Christian radio. Now, I’m under no illusion that Obama or ObamaCare are without fault, but the simplistic and fear-inducing way in which both were demonised was just crazy to hear with fresh ears – having stepped outside the darkroom for a while, the pitch black was startling. I’m opposed to abortion (save to save the mother, which isn’t really abortion), and wouldn’t like my tax dollars funding one, but that seemed to be the crack in the system they were clinging to. That, and the general paranoia about government getting too involved in our lives. As many other countries can attest to (not least here in NZ), public healthcare can work quite well, and until the age to come, no system will ever be ethically and fiscally perfect.
And ‘government control’ also comes into the current gun control discussion. It’s another discourse of fear. I’m amazed at the paranoia of the countless imaginary people who these people have to defend themselves against.
I went for a photo shoot last night alone, and walked down some very dark and a bit spooky pathways. For whatever reasons, I carry some of my childhood fear of the dark. I imagine that someone could be laying in wait, under my car, ready to chop my legs off as I approach… etc. You get the drift. I caught myself planning out my response to this imaginary attacker. “Take a camera stand to the face buddy!” Now, I know that this precise form of attack has actually happened to some unfortunate souls. But I want to make a point.
There will always be someone who is either more prepared or more equipped or has bigger or more guns or body armour than you. If you spend your life in fear, ever-preparing yourself for what someone might do to you, then there’s a word for that: paranoia.
Now, some people in some places and times have more reason to be prepared for self-defense than others. And that is one reason why I’m not for a total ban on all guns for all people. But whilst a hand gun is a simple, relatively safe way for most to protect themselves, and whilst you can surprise an approaching attacker by pulling out a concealed weapon on them, you only have the element of surprise if you see them first! Bottom line: as we develop our technology (including guns), the power will always be found in the hand of both criminals and non-criminals, and it often comes down to the element of surprise. Which is why the whole thing is not about guns, but about paranoia, constant suspicion and fear.