Saturday, December 4, 2021


 Dear Harry,

I have written to you before of my distress about the political and social culture of my adoptive country. Imagine, now, a father buying his 15-year old son a semi-automatic pistol--for a Christmas present! Imagine the son posting a picture of his new toy on social media and describing it as his "new beauty." Imagine the mother of that son taking him out the next day for target practice at a shooting range. Imagine those parents being called in to the school when their son is discovered making a drawing of shooting victims and appending a big grin of approval, and even then refusing to take him out of school. Imagine, hours later, that son pulling out his pistol and shooting numbers of his classmates--four of them fatally.

Can you even begin to imagine such events, Harry? Over here they come as a shock but no surprise. The worship of guns is pandemic here in America, the political protection of guns owners and the industry that supplies them with weapons is sacrosanct. The terrible, persistent occurrence of tragedies such as this one is apparently no deterrent to a political culture that cowers before the fanaticism of a relatively small number of gun owners and their addiction to a "freedom" they believe is guaranteed by the Constitution. 

As with the current deadly epidemic and the stubborn refusal of millions of Americans to follow the most simple, elementary precautions that could stop it in its tracks, it comes down to the question of individual rights. What I learned from you and from the social environment in which I was raised is that those rights come with the responsibility to observe the rights of others. My choices necessarily affect the lives of those with whom I co-exist. If I insist on remaining unvaccinated and not wearing the recommended mask, I will be the one who passes on disease to my fellow-citizens, resulting quite possibly in their death. Guns in the hands of demented, ill-adjusted teenagers result in the deprivation of life and liberty for those they harm or kill. 

Yet a significant number of we Americans--and yes, Harry, as you well know, I am one now--continue to assert their individual rights without regard for those of others. Witness, too, the years-long attack on abortion rights. I know you'd hate the notion of abortion. But I'm equally sure you would share my view that the right to make one's own choices should not extend to determining the right of others to make theirs.

Most of the people I know are those who share my view, and I like to believe that the majority of my countrymen and women view the insanity around us with dismay. We are held hostage by a political system that has ceased to work, as intended, "for the people." It has been hijacked by a ruthless and fanatical minority; and it needs to be reformed, if the country is ever to be better served by an effective, rational, and compassionate government.

Sorry to bother your eternal rest with such inanities! But it's thanks to your own social conscience that such things trouble me as they do.

With love, Peter

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