The frontier is conquered. The mines are empty. The factories are gone. And the fighting is voluntary.
The fields are corporate, empty and harvested by machines. The cattle aren’t driven. They’re processed. And the ships crew themselves.
What labor is left is service; a surrendering of time and effort to a task someone else could do for themselves, if they felt like it. But they don’t. So we earn our keep doing for others what they won’t do for themselves.
The value we provide is the choice-less surrendering of our effort to another. There’s nothing made. Nothing harvested. Nothing raised and brought to slaughter.
The American man has no purpose.
We’ve lost our way.
Our labor isn’t needed the way it used to be. So, we’re paid less for it. For fifty years our value has decreased. The value of a man used to be in what he could produce. And now it’s in what he knows. And what he understands. And how he can communicate. Builders, craftsmen, the intentional purposes of a man are fading.
We can’t behave the way we used to in the workplace, though many women will tell you it’s not for lack of us trying. There’s women to compete with. Their incomes have gone up substantially in my lifetime, though still not at parity with ours. But ours have dropped. Modern work provides men less privilege than it used to.
If you ask us at least.
It’s likely our wives can earn as much as we can. And they’re more educated than we are. In the home, we’re not heads of households any more. We’re partners. We handle babies and change diapers. And if we are the lone bread winner, at the end of the day when we walk in the door, it’s mom who gets a break. Because dad “gets to go to work.”
All of this is in service to a more equitable and just society. Though we’ve still got a ways to go.
The American man, in a relative sense, isn’t worth what he used to be though. Our privilege is revoked. Our standing is diminished. And now they want to take away our guns.
Here are the most honest things that I can say about the gun control debate in America right now:
The Second Amendment, as written and intended, is enormously different than the reality of our modern gun debate.
Personal fire arms are a poor defense against modern tyranny.
Governments have no monopoly on tyranny.
The presence of guns makes a society more violent. The data is unambiguous.
Gun rights advocates are right. Proposed gun control won’t work. Effective gun control, that actually decreases or eliminates violence in America is a fifty-year problem that involves a national elimination of gun ownership.
Bad people will always do bad things. Bad things that kill people are harder to do without guns.
The people who suffer the most from gun violence are poor people and women.
The gap between no effective gun laws and a law prohibiting gun laws is substantial.
These are undeniable, objective realities. But they matter less than the next three sentences:
I would like to believe that I would be willing to give up my right to bear arms if I were certain it would eliminate gun violence. But the idea that I’m not allowed to arm myself makes me feel like less of a man. I can’t reconcile that rationally. But that feeling is there.
Those last two sentences are linked to the first three hundred words of this essay. And so is the American gun debate. And I don’t know how to reconcile it.