Where Have All the Flowers Gone? A rant

Massacre in Broward

So, … another school massacre in the United States, this one in the county where two of my three sons were born. Another troubled young man enamored of the psychological relief he felt, the empowerment provided by firearms. The public reaction, not really introspection but politicized polarization. It was somehow the President’s fault, or the Republicans, and in depraved cynicism, a barrage of requests for campaign donations from the Democrats so that they could gain control of the government in November, impeach the President and move on with their agenda. The mainstream media is of course on board with that.

The gun lobby, not only the National Rifle Association but many very decent Americans who share young Mr. Cruz’s passion for firearms (albeit without his psychological problems) point out that legislation will not cure the problem. They claim that more rather than less weapons are the answer, that an armed faculty would minimize if not avoid school carnage like that to which we seem to be becoming inured. That criminals pay no heed to the law. They may well have a point, this like the long, long series of similar disasters are blatant symptoms of a sick society. A very sick society, a society seeking world domination in the name of American Exceptionalism, a society invading myriad countries and determined to have national military forces better armed than those anywhere else and to regularly use the power that advantage provides against virtually defenseless opponents. But apparently neither major party really considers that a problem. Indeed, those most vocally advocating for gun control simultaneously seek to raise tensions with the world’s other major military and economic powers. They don’t see any relationship between our internal and external violence in the same manner that the GOP fails to note that countries like Australia that have implemented firearm controls have seen a diminution in firearm related violence.

We are a sick society, a very sick society. The restrains imposed by constitutional government are under massive attack by a disloyal opposition, a politicized intelligence community and a mainstream media utterly uninterested in truth. Identity Politics divide us into warring sub-social segments designed not to resolve conflict but to perpetuate and politicize it. But we scratch our heads, sigh, mourn, express sympathy and wonder why the ravens have come home to roost.

Perhaps it’s nature’s way of defending herself from us, or perhaps there really is a god and he is cursing us for our history of corruption and murder abroad, or perhaps it’s something else we just can’t fathom. I think of the parents and families of the most direct victims, the wounded and killed, and of the indirect victims, the children, faculty and staff forced to witness the atrocity, the police and first responders. And I cry. Then I think of the victims of massacres no less hideous but perpetrated by callous hypocrites, especially Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton, and before them George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. And now Donald Trump and Mike Pence. I always see that dichotomy and wonder how it’s possible others don’t. Just how different are they than Adolph Hitler? How would he be perceived today, had he not lost?

My sons, their wives and children live in the United States, so do many, many friends and their families, so do many, many people who would be my friends if I had the opportunity of meeting them. I care deeply for the American people, not as a collective but as millions and millions of individuals and families interacting and working and seeking to survive and thrive, and to do so in safety. But that task seems more and more hopeless. We are just too addicted to blowing people up, everywhere. How did we get that way? Why do we stay that way?

At root perhaps the issue is political, but not in the sense that it’s presented to us by Democrats and by Republicans. Perhaps they’re the root problem, they and the mainstream media and the purported entertainment industry, and in the end, the financial and armaments industries they serve and glorify. All a sick bunch of highly paid hypocrites with no grasp of the human condition. To them it seems we’re just tools that our verisimilitude of democracy requires them to manipulate, kind of like driving their fancy cars. Perhaps their more and more belligerent and rude confrontations, their distortion of humor to vilify and ridicule and prevaricate are the root issues for what we as a society are becoming. Like the aristocrats in France preceding the French Revolution looking down on the rabble from their lofty eyries, throwing us the scraps their dogs won’t eat.

This morning, rather than join families in mourning (although, of course, lip service was paid, it wouldn’t be seemly not to), the media batteries started to spew more politicized rhetoric and buying it, we started to argue and criticize and ridicule, mimicking our “betters”. That’s what monkeys are supposed to do.

I ask myself as did Pete Seeger in 1955 and Joe Hickerson in 1960, and then so many others:

“Where have all the flowers gone?

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2018; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia although he has primarily lived in the United States of America (of which he is a citizen). Until recently he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

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