If you know me at all, you know that I am a pacifist. I imagine an ideal world where there is no war and no violence. But I know this is reality and there needs to be armies and weapons. We don't need to have the war and peace debate. But I do not like guns. I don't think that regular citizens need to have them nearly as much as they do. I am not even anti-hunting, but I just think there needs to be a time and place for everything, and a lot more care taken with weapons in this country. I want to share my thoughts on something I experienced yesterday, because it is troubling me.
So we took the dog to our usual park for a walk. The Nature Center is this cool place, a couple of miles of trails through the woods nestled in metro Detroit. There is a charming little building in the middle with educational displays for the community. Lovely place. And we see lots of kids and nature lovers walking around, usually respecting the natural surroundings.
But yesterday we encountered a man with two small children, less than 5 years old. We were walking toward them and saw that one of the children had a BB gun, and was shooting it into the air and at some birds or squirrels. This was very upsetting to me. Well, the upsetting part was that this small child was waving this BB gun around in a public park, where there were other small children, old people, and pets walking around. It was a busy Saturday. And even more upsetting was that the father was encouraging the kids to shoot things, and didn't seem to have any interest in having them put down the gun as we approached. They were all riled up and just randomly shooting in our direction!
I started to draw back and slowed down, as Chuck moved ahead, wanting to calmly confront the father to let him know that it was inappropriate. I was too scared about the dog getting shot, so I turned around and high tailed it towards the center. When Chuck realized that the father had no interest in teaching gun safety and etiquette to his young kids, he quickly followed me, as the guy started looking a bit confrontational.
So we went into the center and got one of the guys that worked there, who followed Chuck to meet the guy who was approaching. He got scolded and was told it was unsafe to have weapons of any kind at this park. By this time the kids were shirtless and screaming and jumping all over the place. I thought, nice little testosterone factories you've got going there, guy...real Lord of the Flies. Unfortunately, the guy just told the kids, "we have to go somewhere else" so it totally didn't register that he was acting unsafely or inappropriately, and I am sure he will just end up in some other park, endangering others.
So Chuck and I had a hard time getting over this. I was seriously scared that one of us or the dog would get shot by a BB gun, which, I know, is probably a minor injury...but who wants to get injured at all...especially when it can be prevented? It has made me think about gun culture in this country and the fascination of little boys with guns. I fear what these children grow up into when encouraged in such a way.
Sorry, this is a bit of a ranty, semi-political post, which I usually try to avoid. But maybe I shouldn't. It's how I feel and my feelings has an effect on my life, work, and art. I just don't understand this experience, and I needed to get it out. So thanks for letting me share with you...