It took four priests to hold down the wildly struggling, shrieking man on the large flat stone tablet. The high priest then took a razor-sharp piece of flint and cut open the man's chest until he got to the still beating heart. He snatched the heart up and showed it to the cheering crowd. He then completed the task by severing the legs and arms and throwing them down the steps. This type of ritual was repeated numerous times by the Aztecs, a rite that seemed to contradict a society that had accomplished so many great feats. The Aztecs and other older cultures used human sacrifice ceremonies to appease the gods as they were intensely frightened that the gods would destroy the world if they were not honored with these graphic, violent acts: “Life is because of the gods; with their sacrifice they gave us life.... They produce our sustenance... which nourishes life.”
Every time I read of such accounts my consistent impulse is to withdraw in disgust at such a practice. How uncivilized such rites were and savage. Perhaps you have the same reaction. It would have been much more civilized if the priest had simply fired a few rounds with a Glock into the guy instead, huh?
How common was this practice? Historians disagree with the number. It ranges from 250,000 per year on the high end of estimates to the most agreed upon number of 20,000 per year. In the United States 31,000 people die from guns each year, a little over half are suicides. So our violent gun deaths per year are very close in number to the Aztec sacrifice numbers.
So what? You aren't suggesting that we are as barbaric as the ancient Aztecs are you? Well, the short answer is yes, I am. Gun deaths are our sacrificial rituals. Every few years or months a new tragedy finds us. A crazed man or woman grabs a gun with ease because of few restrictions, opens fire and leaves innocents dead. We gather together, wring our hands, pray, bless those who have passed. Politicians and pundits give grand, moving speeches as we watch captivated, provide 'evidence', and we claim that this will be the last one. Even before our tears dry and the echos of the gunshots stop vibrating in our psyche, another tragedy occurs and the exact same ritual is repeated. Our high priests equivalents say that those innocents who were murdered will not have died in vain. But they have. Most of the sacrifices happen out of the direct spotlight, thirty-four per day is the average. For these off-stage deaths there is little outrage, little attention paid, in fact, the reaction is mostly yawns as we turn the page or head for another, happier channel or website.
It is often said that we are a sick society and people with my world view will offer examples. Some listen or read and either nod their heads in agreement or shake them in furious opposition to the premise. Perhaps using the word sick is the problem. Violent or insane might be a more precise term. We worship our guns more than we worship our God or materialism. The reason is as unreasonable as the Aztecs thinking that their world was in peril every 52-years and would end without sacrifices to the gods. Our gun worshipers believe that we as a society need guns in order to protect ourselves from the government. In short, gun ownership is a way of insuring that the government can be defeated if need be by armed conflict.
This concept would be laughable if not for the fact that many of my very best friends really believe in such a myth. We taxpayers pour over half a trillion dollars into the United States military each year. The belief that such an entity that turned evil could be defeated by a bunch of gun owners is like thinking a brave bunch of souls could take on an inner-city gang and win armed with pea-shooters and marching to kazoo music. It is pure insanity.
One hundred million background checks were performed last year on potential gun purchases. Seven hundred thousand were turned down. There are at least 300 million guns circulating around at this moment in time. The premise that the government is out to “get our guns,” is plain stupid. The entire thing is stupid. We allow people to have rifles that can shoot through cinder blocks from three hundred yards away, conceal automatic pistols with extended clips like our most recent murderer who was able to get off twenty more shots than he would have been able to do when such things were banned, and allow loopholes to existing laws that make it so people can avoid all background checks of any kind. Can you imagine this headline:
34 Victims of Brutal Heart Removal Found in January
Our country would go into a collective frenzy of outrage, confusion, and rage. But replace 'heart removal' with 'gun violence' and we yawn, turn the channel or move to the sport's page or comics. I am no better. I am an American also. I play the game. I shed tears when President Obama made his moving speech in Tucson. But these gun deaths are simply part of America. One million gun deaths since my political idol, Robert Kennedy, was murdered in public on my seventeenth birthday in 1968. I was a seventh grade boy watching the JFK funeral in tears, and saw a murder live in real time when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald. And despite these assassinations few gun laws were placed on the books. George Wallace and Ronald Reagan were wounded, a mayor murdered and the killings of those not in politics accelerated but still no real restrictions. Recently the debate has become more and more hysterical. To protest guns is like fighting the ocean.
What would have happened to an Aztec who would have jumped up to protest the sacrifices? Of course we know. He himself would have been killed, probably sacrificed, presented to their society as a serious problem and demonized as a threat to the important goal of keeping the gods content. When anti-gun people voice their concerns they are shouted down using some of the same arguments. In the public arena, politicians have learned that any anti-gun talk is pure poison including even mild suggestions of restrictions on ownership, or ammunition. The gun lobbyists and gun enthusiasts own this society. McCarthyism was nothing in comparison. Nothing will change, regardless of any laws that are passed. If extended clips are banned then they will just sell them at gun shows or mail order or by other methods. People who want them enough will have them. Now more than ever before restricting guns or ammo will not even be considered.
The reality is that we accept the thousands of gun deaths each year. The innocents that are killed are worth the price may not be what society verbalizes but it is the truth. One cannot argue with the facts. They die so that a false belief can be carried on. This gun loyalty at all costs is one that dominates our society. Some of the nicest, kindest souls I know in my rural life feel more intensely about this issue than any other one, including religion. Gun control or even simple, common sense restrictions will not happen until the entire view of the gun owners changes and that may not happen for generations. I wish that it were not so but it is. Nothing is going to change over the Tucson murders. It will be over as soon as Britney Spears gets some new operation or a sports star gets caught doing some immoral deed. We will all forget until a gun goes off somewhere and takes out several more of our human sacrifices. It is what we accept and almost expect. I wish it were not so but I am only one lonely voice. A voice that nobody in the gun world wants to hear.
We are all so advanced. We no longer allow beating hearts to be shown to the world. No, we prefer gun wounds. The victims of either practice share one thing. They are both equally dead.
But what about expanding mental health services? Won't this latest tragedy give us the resolve to identify and care for more victims of mental health challenges? HA! HA! HA!--I'm sorry, I shouldn't laugh at you for suggesting a reform that makes perfect sense. But the fight for simple mental health parity took years and years. We have our national strategy in place. We throw the mentally ill into our prisons where they are not treated but tortured. They are out of our immediate sight which accomplishes the goal. Basically, never underestimate the level of 'who gives a shit' in this country.
Plus, there is no chance with the Republicans in control of the House of Representatives that anything as radical and needed like mental health care expansion or reform will be suggested. Nothing except moves dedicated to attacking President Obama will be allowed to come to a vote there for the next two years. Those who advocate for the mentally ill are a small and lonely bunch. Ever heard of a bake sale or walk-a-thon for schizophrenia?
"For a perspective, consider that for every one American with muscular dystrophy, there are sixty with schizophrenia. For every person with diabetes, there are six with schizophrenia. For every one with MS, there are five with schizophrenia. For every one with Alzheimer's, there are two schizophrenics feeling very, very left out of the medical research funding aspect of things. For an HIV perspective, consider that there are 800,000 living with this disease in America, earning a total of $1.792 billion in annual research funding. Yet there are more than three times as many with schizophrenia (2.6 million, in the United States), generating a scant $196 million in medical research annually. Proportionally, this means that the diseases with the better PR are getting, in sum, trillions more dollars in research than a disease which affects many more, and in some cases, much more seriously curtails their lifespan and their quality of living." Read more here:
Besides, the mentally ill play a critical role in our sacrifice rituals. A great diversion-- " It has nothing to do with guns. It was a solo crazy man." It helps us all too and reassures us that only a crazed person would do such a thing. It could never be one of us, the sane ones, that accept 34 gun deaths per day and 500,000 of the mentally ill locked away in our prisons as the price for a free society.
Our mental health treatment
The point? Do not ask your politicians to walk the plank for any gun or ammo restrictions in this current evironment. It would be political suicide. Do not do the typical radical left wing deal of calling President Obama a coward or spineless or whatever for not getting involved in this at this point in time. There is nothing we can do right now. Hey, I didn't make the rules!