Death & Poetry Part 2: Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

(Note: this is the second post about Poetry and Death based on a research project that I recently finished for my Medical Humanities class in Fall 2016. This post analyzes “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas and attempts to highlight how this poem enables readers to cope with death. I hope that you will find this post interesting and thought provoking.)

Thomas writes “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” from the perspective of a son speaking to his dying father. He implores his father to vigorously fight despair at the end of life. In other words the speaker is “advocating active resistance to death immediately before death, not sad mourning after it” (Westphal 113). Thomas seems to believe that those who fail to resist death helplessly welcome despair and mourning. This poem describes death as an enemy and encourages a posture of animosity towards death.

The situation that Thomas speaks into is both serious and common. After all, “it is inconceivable for our unconscious to imagine an actual ending of our own life here on earth, and if the life of ours has to end, the ending is always attributed to a malicious intervention from the outside by someone else. In simple terms, in our unconscious mind we can only be killed; it is inconceivable to die of a natural cause or of old age” (Kübler-Ross 2). Given the psychological struggle that mankind has with dying in this particular way, Thomas’ words bear even more weight.

Thomas begins this poem with the famous phrase, “Do not go gentle into that good night” (Line 1). Through this line, Thomas urges his father (and his readers) to not bear of a posture of complacency and acceptance but to struggle in the face of death. He interestingly describes death as a “good night,” which stands paradoxically in contrast with his urges to “not go gentle.” Thomas continues, “Old age should burn and rave at close of day; / Rage, rage against the dying of the light” (Lines 2-3). Just because an individual is old does not mean that person’s life should be any less passionate or vigorous than before, Thomas says. Life should always flourish, but death brings an end to this flourishing, and therefore, because it is unnatural in this sense, death should be resisted.

Further accentuating this unpleasantness, death in the modern era has characteristics that make it “more gruesome in many ways, namely, more lonely […] because the patient is often taken out of his familiar environment” (Kübler-Ross 7). Even surrounded by family death is inherently lonely because it cannot be experienced collectively. The brutality of death becomes exponentially more apparent once we realize that each of us must face death alone.

Based upon the reality of death’s ruthlessness, Thomas continues his exhortation of his father, “Though wise men at their end know dark is right, / Because their words had forked no lightning they / Do not go gentle into that good night” (Lines 4-6). These lines use some peculiar imagery and their meaning is by no means obvious. However, it appears that the speaker is noting that the wise acknowledge the imminence of death when he writes that they “at their end know dark is right.” Despite this knowledge, the wise still do not complacently go towards death; rather, their understanding enables them to resist death all the more.

Continuing with the descriptive imagery Thomas says, “Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright / Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, / Rage, rage against the dying of the light” (Lines 7-9). The speaker singles out another group of people, “good men,” and say that they know that their lives could have been significant and beautiful if not cut short. For this reason he urges them to rage against the ending of life.

Life is short. Thomas notes, “Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight, / And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way, / Do not go gentle into that good night” (Lines 10-12). Using the metaphor of the sun, the speaker describes how men, in the same instant that they celebrate life, also mourn death. Because of the natural brevity of life, death should be resisted.

As he continues, Thomas presents his father with an example of what life at the end could look like. He writes, “Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight / Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay, / Rage, rage against the dying of the light” (Lines 13-15). Even those with “blinding sight” (presumably the elderly) have the opportunity to “blaze like meteors and be gay.” Age is no excuse to give in to death and those who resist death have the opportunity to use their last moments productively.

Thomas follows up this example with a final exhortation to resist complacency at the end of life. He implores, “And you, my father, there on the sad height, / Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray. / Do not go gentle into that good night. / Rage, rage against the dying of the light” (Lines 16-19). In the face of death, the son begs his father for any sort of action. The giving of a blessing or even of a curse would be better than doing nothing. Thomas knows that all life deserves good stewardship and begs his father to seek to use his time well, even at the end of life.

Through the structure of this poem, Thomas further accentuates these themes. If one were to read this poem out loud, the listeners would likely notice the disjointed rhythm that these lines display. The pace of this poem does not resolve the way listeners might like, which mirrors the point that life rarely ends the way individuals would like. Considering that most of the lines are in groups of three, this poem’s rhyme is fairly unpredictable. This structural decision emphasizes that death is unpredictable and seldom behaves the way that we might like it to behave. These mechanical decisions highlight the ways that poetry can communicate uniquely and effectively, and the way that Thomas applied them to this subject matter.

In summary Thomas instructs his readers to deal with death by fighting it to the very end. In the face of death’s inevitability, Thomas commends attempting to make best possible use of every moment of life. A subtler theme in this poem is the idea that “death often brings with it a profound gratitude for life” (Burch 1896). Thomas emphasizes that, because it is the end of life, death often creates a sense of regret, or at least recognition of life’s true value and potential. It is also interesting to reemphasize that this poem is written from the perspective of a son to his father. This poem is not written by someone in the process of dying but rather by someone who is experience the secondary effects of death. But this fact serves as a reminder that death’s greatest negative effects are often on those left behind. As noted earlier, death creates isolation and “the real terror in death, for those dying as for those left behind, is the loneliness of it” (Burch 1896).

 

For further reading, check out the following sources:

Burch, Druin. “On Death.” Lancet 360.9348 (2002): 1896. Academic Search Premier. Web. 21 Sept. 2016.

Kübler-Ross, Elisabeth. On Death and Dying. New York: Macmillan, 1969.

Thomas, Dylan. “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.” Poets.org. Academy of American Poets, n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2016.

Westphal, Jonathan. “Thomas’s Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night.” Explicator 52.2 (1994): 113. Academic Search Premier. Web. 21 Sept. 2016.

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I hope you found this post to be informative and relevant. Please leave your thoughts in a comment below or send them to me via email. And again, thanks for reading!

Death & Poetry Part 1: Poetry as a Communication Medium

(Note: this is the first of four posts about Poetry and Death based on a research project that I recently finished for my Medical Humanities class in Fall 2016. This post outlines some unique characteristics of poetry as a method of communication, while the following posts will look at specific poems on the topic of Death. I hope that you will find this post interesting and thought-provoking.)

Assuming that writings that describe the human condition related to death bear importance, what makes poetry uniquely suited to enable individuals to cope with death? Poetry stands as a distinctive form of communication for a number reasons, and these distinctions allow to poetry to aid individuals in inimitable ways.

First, poetry uses figurative language, which allows for the speaker to express ideas, which would be difficult to articulate via normal vocabulary. Barry Klassel in the article “The Two-Headed Calf: Poetry and the Experience of Being Human” writes, “Poetry is the art form that conveys aspects of human experience through a concentrated and precise use of language” (Klassel 2). Poetry utilizes many literary devices such as metaphors, similes, extended imagery, and rhymes, which set it apart from other types of communication. These characteristics allow poetry to express the human condition in figurative language, which is more effective in instances where literal explanations fall short. Poetry communicates “what is deeply felt and essentially unsayable; that is the paradox on which the poem necessarily turns. A poet uses language as a painter uses color, a primary material out of which to make art” (Alexander 18). Traumatic events like illness or death that might be difficult for the speaker to describe in normal terms can be retold through a medium such poetry, which allows for the manifestation of feelings and not just literal occurrences. Poetry provides the poet with a medium through which to manipulate language in unconventional ways.

Second, poetry allows the readers to experience what they would be unable to experience otherwise. Klassel again notes, “The power of poetry opens us to realms of experience we couldn’t visit otherwise (except, perhaps, through another art form such as film). And while good poetry has an immediate effect, it’s also multidimensional in its ability to evoke layers of meaning beyond first impressions” (Klassel 2). Poetry connects individuals to people and events, which they would be unable to experience, or even understand, otherwise. Events like traumatic illness and death can be described in understandable, relatable terms through poetry. Also, as this quote notes, the figurative language of poetry often leads to a multitude of potential meanings, indicating that poetry can instruct people in numerous ways. The same poem can impact the same individual in several ways over time, as these manifold meanings are uncovered. In a similar manner, “the poem in its act of meaning-making turns away from the literal, its truth bound to what can be evoked” (Alexander 18). For different listeners, different truths can be derived from poetry, giving this medium an extensive and diverse range of influence.

All of these characteristics make poetry uniquely suited to enable individuals to cope with death.

 

For further reading, check out the following articles:

Alexander, Meena. “What Use Is Poetry?.” World Literature Today 87.5 (2013): 17-21. Academic Search Premier. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.

Klassel, Barry. “The Two-Headed Calf”: Poetry And The Experience Of Being Human.” Humanist 68.4 (2008): 30-33. Academic Search Premier. Web. 23 Sept. 2016.

 

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I’d love to hear what you think about this post. Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. Also, stayed tuned for the next three post, which will expound on these ideas further.

The Parking Garage Dilemma

I’ve been studying a lot of economics lately and have been intrigued by a field known as “Behavioral Economics.” While I am far from an expert in this field, from my understanding this area of study seeks to explain why individuals make many of the decisions that they do, based on economic theory. This field is rooted in the concept of “rationality” which assumes that individuals weigh costs and benefits when making decisions.

Being a student of economics, and this area in particular, has lead me to try to apply what I’ve learned to some areas of my everyday life. (It is really interesting, as you get into this area of study, to look at and analyze the different decisions that you make on a daily basis. Oftentimes, you will begin to notice that you subconsciously weigh the costs and benefits of decisions without even explicitly thinking about it.)

One such area that I have been wrestling with is the concept of where one should park in a parking garage. I’ve been working in downtown Louisville for the past two years and utilize a parking garage on a weekly basis. Honestly, as I drove into work, I didn’t put too much thought into where to park. I generally would pick the first open spot I could find, so as to limit the amount of time I would spend driving out of the parking garage.

If everybody behaved this way, this topic would be quite uninteresting. After a couple months of parking in this manner, however, I started to notice that cars would drive past me and other open parking spots and head further up the garage in search of other open spots. To be honest, I could not make sense of this decision. Why would somebody pass up perfectly good spots on, say the fourth floor, in order to obtain open spots on the sixth floor? It made no rational sense to me.

Although I didn’t put too much effort into solving this puzzle, it did stick with me and annoy me on occasion. Finally, I obtained some clarity on a day when most of the lower level spots were filled. I drove up to the fifth level and noticed that all of the spots near the elevator were filled. I kept driving past many open spots until I got to the sixth level and also noticed that all of the spots near the elevator were filled. Suddenly, it occurred to me – these people were not trying to minimize the amount of time spent leaving the parking garage, but were trying to minimize the amount of time spent walking to and from the elevator! While I was willing to sacrifice a short walk to the elevator (cost) in exchange for a short drive out of the parking garage (benefit), these other people behaved the opposite way.

(Since writing this initial post in December, I’ve been able to take an “Urban Economics” class, which deals with city structure, transportation, and many other issues, and has given me a few tools to more eloquently explain this situation. Here is a more bit of a more technical explanation of the situation:)

When thinking about the “costs” of travel, economists consider both explicit monetary costs, as well as time costs. These time costs can be further broken down into “access time” costs and “in-vehicle time” costs. Access time cost is merely the disutility that an individual undergoes in order to enter a vehicle (i.e. waiting for a subway, walking to a bus stop, etc.), while in-vehicle cost is the disutility that an individual undergoes during an actual trip (i.e. sitting in traffic, sitting in a crowded bus, etc.).

Generally, to decrease access time, in-vehicle time would have to be increased. For example for a light rail system to decrease access time, the operators would have to add stops to the system. These more frequent stops would, however, increase in-vehicle time for those who were already on the light rail.

Empirical research shows that people actually dislike access time more than in-vehicle time. So, most individuals would rather get on a vehicle quickly, even if the trips itself were to take longer.

This actually lines up consistently with my observations in the parking garage. While I tried to minimize my in-vehicle time by parking in the first spot I saw, these people who kept driving to upper levels were trying to minimize their access time by parking close to the elevators. Apparently, my “ground-breaking” observations can be very easily explained by existing economic theory. Nevertheless, I thought these ideas were worth sharing.

To wrap this up, economics is a fascinating topic and can be used to explain many seemingly confusing aspects of human behavior. I hope this post was interesting and/or beneficial to you.

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If this post piqued your interest or if you believe that this is really too petty of a subject to be discussed, please leave a comment or send me an email. Thanks for reading!

Being Human in the Digital Age: The Relationship Between Technology and Society

(Note: the following post is based on a paper that I wrote for my Digital Culture class in Summer 2015. Specifically, it interacts with “Amusing Ourselves to Death” by Neil Postman. These are relevant issues in our current society and I hope that you will find this post to be interesting and informative.)

The invention of the wheel changed the way cultures operated. Rather than manually moving every single item that needed to be transported, individuals were able to save time and energy by moving things via carts and other wheeled vehicles. This demonstrates the effect that technology has on the way societies function. As new technologies come to life, societies adjust and adapt to the benefits of those technologies.

To disregard the effect of technology on society is inexcusable. Postman argues that “technology comes equipped with a program for social change” and as various media become further integrated into our culture, the effect grows stronger (Postman 157). Technology has the power to, not only, change the way we act but also adjust how we think. And it has become apparent that “technological changes in our modes of communication are even more ideology-laden than changes in our modes of transportation” (Postman 157). The printing press had a massive effect on society by introducing a new form of communication, as well as a new way to think about logic and argumentation. As books became more popular, thinking often became more logical and structured. Throughout its existence, the television has redefined entertainment to the point that we often find little fulfillment in the entertainment modes of the past. Where plays used to be a primary source of entertainment, now people tend to find them boring or lacking in appeal. The Internet is redefining information and what it means to be informed in a way that we would wither in a society that communicated slowly via telegram. We must be aware that technologies “are rather like metaphors, working by unobtrusive but powerful implications to enforce their special definitions of reality” (Postman 10). A major part of this awareness revolves around trying not to “make the assumption that technology is always a friend to culture” (Postman 157).

To be human in the digital age, means to question technology and change. Humans have been given an amazing ability to think and communicate about these issues that other creatures lack. Therefore, we should be willing to thoughtfully deliberate on these ideas. We need to throw away our belief in “the inevitability of progress” and discard the idea that “history is moving us toward some preordained paradise and that technology is the force behind that movement” (Postman 158). To just accept technology and assume forward progress is to abandon our responsibility. Postman encourages us that “no medium is excessively dangerous if its users understand what its dangers are” (Postman 161). If we are willing and proactive in thinking about and understanding our technology, then we can be prepared to control it, rather than let it control us. In our culture it can be tempting to put technology and its benefits on such a high pedestal that we ignore the other blessings in life. We, as humans, are responsible to consider technology and also to position in the proper place in our priorities. Technology is a formidable and exciting tool and has the power to destroy society when used poorly and improve society when used well. It is our job to discern the difference between these two alternatives.

 

For further reading, check out Postman’s book.

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I’d love to hear what you think about this post. Please leave a comment or shoot me an email with your reactions to the post. Again, thanks for reading!

Breaking Bad and Human Nature

[Note: the following post is intended for those who have seen “Breaking Bad.” It references characters and elements of the plot without necessarily explaining background information. It contains MAJOR SPOILERS. If you have not seen “Breaking Bad” but you plan to watch it, I would advise reading no further. Otherwise, enjoy!]

“Breaking Bad” is easily my favorite TV show and is the most well written show I’ve ever seen. Besides the stunning cinematography, complicated characters, and intriguing plot line, I appreciate “Breaking Bad” because it gives an accurate depiction of human nature. This picture is not always pretty – it actually is quite jarring, disturbing, and sobering. But it is realistic and offers many lessons for viewers to take away:

  1. Even the most normal, seemingly-moral individuals have the propensity for evil, given certain situations. “Breaking Bad” tells the story of Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with terminal cancer who begins making drugs in order to provide for his family. The writers go to extensive lengths to show just how law-abiding, and averse to violence Walter really is initially. When Walter’s DEA brother-in-law offers to let Walter hold his gun, Walter can barely handle it and looks obviously out of place. When Walter coerces high school dropout/druggy Jesse Pinkman to make meth with him, Jesse cannot believe that someone like Walter would ever do something like create and sell drugs. This example stands as a lesson for viewers that no individual, no matter how seemingly-moral, is beyond acting in terribly evil ways. All it took was a difficult life situation (being diagnosed with cancer) for Walter to justify this awful behavior. This leads right into the next lesson.
  2. The decline into habits of evil is often gradual and can involve a series of moral justifications. Walter decides to begin cooking meth by telling himself that when he dies, his family will need money to survive. While many people would have qualms with this decision, it could potentially be seen as at least somewhat moral. After all, taking care of one’s family is a good thing, and some might see that as the ultimate good in Walter’s situation. However, as the show progresses, Walter’s actions turn from “justifiable, but wrong” to “glaringly wrong.” Walter enters the drug industry with the idea that he can use his chemistry background to cook meth but not really get involved with the gritty, violent details of the drug industry. However, this fairytale is quickly crushed by the harsh realities of the inherent violence of professions in the drug industry. Once Jesse’s former partners attack Walter and try to get him to cook for them, Walter is forced to stand up for himself. He uses poisonous gas to kill one of the drug dealers but only incapacitates the other one. Walter takes this individual captive and wrestles with how to deal with him. Over a significant period of time, Walter goes back and forth between letting him free and killing him. At this point he has at least some sense of right and wrong and is bothered by having to take human life with his own hands. Ultimately, Walter discovers that this prisoner is planning to kill him and in a moment of self-preservation strangles his captive. This action is really the turning point, where, from then on, Walter freely kills, manipulates, and hurts people without much resignation. From making drugs to help his family to killing another to save himself, Walter demonstrates the ability justify almost any wrong action with his shifting, unsubstantial sense of morality.
  3. Justifications for evil often hide the true selfish motives. Walter begins his drug-creating life by telling himself that he is doing it for his family. And throughout almost the entirety of the show, he continues to tell himself (and others) this same thing, even when his actions clearly do not line up with this message. There are numerous points where Walter has accumulated unfathomable amounts of money and could easily stop cooking meth. But he continues which hints that he must be motivated by something other than provision of his family. The final episode makes it clear that Walter was motivated by pride and at some point began to cook meth because of the sense of purpose and power it gave him. During the final episode, tired of hearing his justifications for cooking meth and creating so much devastation, Walter’s wife says, “If I have to hear one more time that you did this for the family…” Walter interrupts and bluntly states the truth, “I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And… I was really… I was alive.” Somewhere along the way Walter began to cook meth because of the pride and sense of purpose this craft gave him, rather than merely provision for his family.
  4. Acceptance is not the proper response to realization of the depth of human depravity. Jesse Pinkman, Walter’s sidekick, has an awful life throughout the course of this show. He makes numerous bad decisions, but he is also heavily manipulated by Walter. In one instance Walter convinces Jesse to kill another man (Gale, for those who have seen the show) in order to save Walter and Jesse from being killed. Jesse follows Walter’s orders but becomes terribly bothered and haunted by his actions. After a significant period of isolation and depression, Jesse begins attending a twelve-step group, where the leader of the group preaches a message of self-acceptance, regardless of one’s behavior. After some time, Jesse gets fed up and blurts out, “So I should stop ‘judging’ and accept? So no matter what I do… hooray for me because I’m a great guy? It’s all good? No matter how many dogs I kill, I just, what, do an inventory and accept? I mean you back your truck over your own kid and you like accept? What a load of crap.” Jesse understands that we can’t deal with evil by just accepting it. These wrong decisions have significant consequences that must be dealt with, which leads to the next lesson.
  5. There are consequences for evil, which culminate in punishment. Throughout the show Walter works crazily to accumulate money, however, he can never seem to get enough. At every turn, something comes up to thwart his plans, mess up his operation, and take his money. And as he desperately strives to provide for his family, his relationship with his wife falls apart when she learns of his evil actions. Thus, the very thing he supposedly works for is gradually destroyed because of his actions. And despite Walter’s carefully laid plans, in the end everything falls apart. His wife and son hate him, his brother-in-law gets killed because of him, and ultimately he dies. There is more than just a “crime doesn’t pay” moral to this story. Walt’s decline into a lifestyle of evil culminates in complete and utter ruin.

“Breaking Bad” is a sobering show and is difficult to watch at times. However, it is a good reminder of the extent of the brokenness and depravity of human nature and the terrible consequences of sin. These realities can be easy to forget or gloss over and this show does an exemplary job of acting as a reminder to its viewers. For further reading about the theological/philosophical messages of “Breaking Bad,” I would HIGHLY recommend this article. (Note: for those who will watch this show based on my recommendation, please be warned that there are a handful of inappropriate scenes throughout the series which you would be wise to avoid.)

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Especially if you’ve seen “Breaking Bad,” I’d love to here what you have to say about. Even if you haven’t, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email. Thanks for reading!

Art and Value

(Note the following post is a based on a paper that I wrote for my Digital Culture class in Summer 2015. Hopefully you will find it interesting.)

On what basis do we ascribe value to art? What makes a Rembrandt inherently more valuable than a seven year-old’s crayon sketch? In “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” Walter Benjamin argues that, “the unique value of the ‘authentic’ work of art has its basis in ritual, the location of its original use value” (Benjamin 224). Since art’s original function was ritual, its primary value must be based on this concept of pointing to something greater, outside of us. To have ritual value, the piece of art’s context and authenticity must be considered. Benjamin uses the examples of the cults of magic, religion, and beauty to expound upon this idea of art for the purpose of ritual.

Benjamin then explains that art is accepted and valued on a scale, with exhibition value at one extreme and cult or ritual value at the other (Benjamin 224). The exhibition value of art becomes apparent when artists create cultural artifacts for the primary purpose of being seen by others. Cult objects, on the other hand, were created with their main function being “their existence, not their being in view” (Benjamin 224). Cultures create art like this without man as the primary audience. Whether it exists mainly for the gods, the spirits, or oneself, cult art is not meant to be displayed and be seen by others.

In the birth of the digital culture we see a shift in the basis of art and cultural artifacts. Benjamin contends that in the photographic image, “the exhibition value for the first time shows its superiority to the ritual value” (Benjamin 226). This movement is based primarily in our newfound ability to technically reproduce art, which has inadvertently caused our culture to value exhibition and accessibility over the higher, cult value of art. In the past we devalued art by transporting it out of its original context, but now we are further able to diminish the value of art by completely belittling its authenticity. We begin to create art that not only can be reproduced, but with the intent of its reproduction. However, this shift in value comes at a cost. As we singularly emphasize the exhibition value of art, there begins a “qualitative transformation of its nature,” to the point where it exhibits “entirely new functions,” and the artistic functions becomes primarily incidental (Benjamin 225). The purpose of art becomes reaching the broadest possible audience to the point where we completely lose sight of the ritualistic element and authenticity of art. When we see replications of statues of divinities we quickly admire their aesthetic appeal but forget the original purpose of the original statue.

As we, as a culture, shift from a focus on cult value to exhibition value, one new value has become apparent: self-promotion. In selfies, Instagram, and social networking it is clear that members of our culture attempt to use digital images to sell themselves. Whether it be for the purpose of getting a job or just the desire to be well-liked, we love to use pictures and videos to try to make ourselves look as good as we can. Self-promotion is definitely deeply interwoven into our individualistic, American “fabric of tradition,” where we pride ourselves on working hard and bettering our lives (Benjamin 223). This is the land of opportunity where you can be what ever you want to be if you just put your mind to it. As a result of this belief, art has moved away from its original ritual purpose and become a means of enhancing our appeal in the eyes of others.

 

For further reading check out Benjamin’s book.

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If you found this post to be relevant or think it is way off the mark, please leave a comment or shoot me an email. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading!

The Second Amendment and the Right to… Hunt?

I was blessed to be able to travel over to England a few years ago. Among many other unique characteristics of this trip, my Father, Grandmother, and I were able to stay with a few hospitable English families during our travels.

These visits were largely pleasant and good natured but at one point a divisive topic came up. Out of nowhere, our kind, elderly host asked something along the lines of, “Why in the world do you all insist on owning automatic weapons? Couldn’t you hunt just as effectively with far less dangerous weaponry?”

We laughed the question off without really answering it, but in my head I was thinking, “If that’s what you think the Second Amendment is all about, your government has brainwashed you all very effectively.”

I kid to some degree but at the same time this is quite a serious issue. It is no secret that many tyrannical dictators have succeeded in their endeavors by disarming their subjects. Chinese dictator Mao Tze Tung blatantly admitted this fact when he said, “All political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The communist party must command all the guns, that way, no guns can ever be used to command the party.”

Nazi tyrant Adolf Hitler expressed similar ideas, “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms.  History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing.  Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty. So let’s not have any native militia or native police.”

This is not to say that all disarming of citizens undoubtedly leads to tyrannical behavior. However, it is far easier for dictators and tyrants to achieve their nefarious goals when they do not have to worry about resistance from their people.

This type of resistance against overreaching government was exactly why the Founding Fathers emphasized the right to bear arms. It amazes me when people say that the Second Amendment is “merely about hunting” or “was written with muskets in mind and doesn’t apply to modern guns.”

President Thomas Jefferson said, about this issue, “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” George Washington, Patrick Henry, George Mason, John Adams, James Madison, and many other Founding Fathers echoed this same sentiment repeatedly. The right to bear arms is certainly about self defense, but it also serves to dissuade government from despotic behavior.

Based on that idea and the fact that Colonial revolutionaries had weapons identical to the arms of  the British military of the day, one could make the argument that, rather than having their gun ownership limited, modern Americans should actually be allowed much greater access to military-grade weaponry?

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If you have thoughts or questions on this important issue, please leave a comment or shoot me an email. Thanks for reading!