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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Canada ISN'T Superior, Just a Little Safer and Much Colder

Adventures In Running

 This isn’t an attempt to wag a Canadian finger, just a wish to share what might be a “best practice” with our troubled, but closest, elder sibling in the North American family.

Canada has always punched above its weight, helping to beat the bullies when at our best. This might be because we don’t reach first for a gun. We don’t depend on weapons and violence as solutions. In Canada, as far as I know, you can get a gun if you want one. They aren’t outlawed. Handguns, automatics, and military grade weapons are restricted. For hunting weapons, you need to take a safety course and get a certificate of acquisition. Restricted weapons required further qualification and certification. That’s hardly the government taking away guns. We just try to make sure that gun owners are responsible and minimally educated in safety.

We don't tend to turn to conflict as an answer. We seem to resist turning on each other in a crisis, most of the time. I have never heard of looting occurring during disasters. Probably happens, but rarely. We try to pull together. We screw up a lot and in major ways, but life is a bit more safe, peaceful, and reasonable compared to what’s going on next-door. When you live in cold like ours, you have to huddle together for warmth. That’s why we’re so polite. It keeps us from strangling one another. Most of the time.

 It's just my opinion, but it seems like allowing anti-government, anti-law, and antisocial, organizations and "militias" t have large numbers of military-grade weapons is a recipe for civil war, or at least bloody revolt, seeing as the government has satellites and drones listed among the least destructive of its armoury. You might describe America's gun violence as an ongoing civil war among individuals.

Maybe the attitude difference  toward guns comes from the fights that helped form, unite, and define our countries in our own eyes. America was born in a violent revolution against an empire and then further defined by civil war that split it in half. America fought, won and defends personal liberty. Canada draws more identity from the two World Wars during which we came to the aid of a later version of the same empire and its allies. Our wars spilled none of our own blood on our own soil, the death an evil far from our shores afflicting our friends and the innocent. We gained our real independence by helping others regain their freedom. The only country that has even attacked us is you, before we became Canada, and we kissed and made up long ago. We have never attacked another country on our own or conquered land by armed force, only by dishonouring treaties and then civilizing away culture, health, sanity and life with educational abuse for generations. Far more polite than all that shooting and scalping.

We also tend to settle in groups rather than alone or as isolated families. Safety in numbers reduced the number of guns required per individual and the threat of exile into the big, cold, empty, wilderness kept most in line most of the time. Our struggle with a separatist region stretched on for decades of endless insults, claims, arguments, threats, pleas, and negotiations. There was one death by a few terrorists that cause a an overreaction of a brief period of martial law in the province of Quebec, but the fight eventually ended when the second vote came very close to separation. So close that the people who flocked there to express the rest of Canada's affection and plea for unity might have actually have pushed the thing over the finish line. The the next generation most got tired of hearing about it and the whole thing has faded into the background for now.

Maybe Canadians are tend less toward violence because it is really hard to swing and do damage with both combatants cocooned in heavy winter clothing. If you try to wrestle you can't reach around yourself to grab and  you bounce off. You can conceal a weapon inside easily, but pulling off mittens, the  unbuttoning, unzipping, and digging through pocketed layers to find your gun in a useful amount of time is a bit tricky. You may have to take a seat while you do. The gunfight starts at noon, which could be dark, and goes until dusk (maybe only a few hours later), when neither can feel their fingers any longer. Then they run inside to get warm and drunk. After a wile, we just decided to condense the process into hockey at the rink.

Also, it's hard to hurl insults when you're shivering and your teeth are chattering. Keeping warm and  just moving around in the snow and ice  takes too much energy to have any left for street violence. You just want to get off the street, inside, and drunk. Politeness and a  mild manner take so much less energy. It's a long winter and we need to conserve food, brew, daylight, and strength. Everything is far apart, so we need to be cooperatively self-reliant to make do. Necessity and Laziness are the parents of invention and efficiency, and we play them against each other whenever required, or really bored. Keeps the neck free of fingers.

Canada isn't superior, just a little safer because it's too cold, and we're too lazy, even to strangle each other. Thankfully there are no convenient killer remote-controls. If you have to get up first, you might not bother, you might not be so quick to turn someone off with a twitch. That someone might be you. Most civilian deaths by firearms are accidental or self-inflicted. The fear of making things worse with a botched suicide attempt goes away as soon as that cold hard barrel touches your head. So quick there's no time to turn back and it's painless, at least for the one pulling the trigger. It blows everyone around them away, or, if they can't pull the trigger, they go out in a "blaze of glory" that  does the same in order to force their final shot, or the cops'.

There is no "glory" in senseless death and wasted life, only dehumanization.

Only compassion defeats dehumanization.

Everything is always in process
Only compassion defeats dehumanization.