Always ethereal, always eclectic, I write as the mood strikes, when there intrigue reveals itself. Usually that means something controversial or adventure of some sort.

I've tried really hard to be unprovocative, but have as yet been unsuccessful.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Why the Link with Death?

I first heard about this on the pro-evolution anti-ID site, Panda's Thumb. They were preempting likely Literal Creationist attempts to paint the individual as pro-evolution, and therefore make an argument for how evolution leads to murder and anarchy. But the impetus for the Panda's Thumb post was horrific. There's been another school shooting. This time in Finland, of all places. Finland is a country that has fought wars, but never really won them. It's a country that in the post-WWII period has remained staunchly neutral, with an incredibly low murder rate. It's a safe place to be. And yet, here, there was another shooting, a massacre, with nine individuals killed, including the shooter. No one really knows why he did it- even more than other similar stories, he seemed to be a nice guy, until he began being isolated recently.

People are saying it will causes a sea-change in Finland, which has the third highest gun-ownership rate in the world. Most Finns use guns for hunting, a prominent pastime in a country still largely wilderness. With an emergency session of Parliament called to deal with the greatest peace-time massacre in Finnish history, gun ownership laws are likely to be greatly restricted.

But I find it odd, and a bit eerie, to see this connection between the land of my ancestors and the land of my birth. For, of course, the country with the highest rate of gun ownership is America, the Land of Violence, and one of the most dangerous countries on the planet, even excluding her penchant for war. As Michael Moore showed, gun ownership does not directly correlate to violence against people- but it certainly helps. You get angry people in lots of countries- like Morocco, where I used to live. But an angry guy with a gun can do a lot more than an angry guy with a knife.

The part even stranger is that the country with the second highest rate of gun ownership is, you guessed it, Yemen- the country I have long desired to live in, and visited two Christmases ago. Yemen is often portrayed as the Wild West, where tribes often resist the government by kidnapping foreigners, and an insurrection has been going on for years. There are said to be two guns for every Yemeni (though not every Yemeni owns a gun), and most tribesmen wear a jambiya, a large traditional curved knife at the front of the belt. Yemeni get angry at each other, but this rarely leads to violence. If you kill another person, you face a death penalty determined by their family, who reserves the right to public execution or a monetary compensation of their choosing. Or it could lead to inter-tribal warfare, where the aforementioned guns are used.

What am I to make of this coincidence, where the land of my ancestory, my birth, and my future are connected by such a widespread use of an instrument of violence? In truth I had known about American and Yemen before, but it took this tragedy for me to learn about Finland. What am I to make of this connection of violence tracing itself through my life? In truth I do not know. I believe there is an answer, but for the moment, I have only the beginnings of the question. I know there is the prophesy of peacemaking, and I wait to see its fulfillment, and I long to see its fulfillment. And I wonder if these are complimentary threads in the seamless tapestry of my life.

2 comments:

mum said...

I felt this way, too! Esp aft Dade co, I thought we'd all go back to pencils and ppr...and the music...so full of pathos

Herself, Again said...

We should make a list of places we'd like to see, walking, down alleyways, at night and early in the morning, and with whom, before we die. My list would certainly include all museums in Europe, and opera houses. And unexpected encounters with what turns out to be friends of a lifetime.