Letter to the Future. IV - The Sort We Are to Be

8 March 2010 The Sort We Are to Be Let you not be silent if ever you come across someone who wants to know what kind of men or women you are to be. Do not answer, my loves, with an occupational title or a tax bracket destination. Indeed you will have a great many options for how you spend your days. The world at large will encourage you this way and that and tempt you with all sorts of incentives. Riches will seem
 to be stowed around every corner, though you'd be right to question the worth of those treasures and the worthiness of the trail you'd have to take to retrieve them. Today I read an article that made me think of you. The New York Times covered a series of gatherings by gun rights activists looking to demonstrate their dedication to the 2nd amendment by wearing their high powered revolvers around town. While I find their interpretation of the 2nd amendment puzzling, the difference I see between 13 colonies reserving the right to maintain militias in the age of armed revolution and the current obsession, which identifies a sense of belonging in the weapon at the hip, is not actually the point. Or at least, not exactly. You see, I thought of you, maybe younger than you are as you read this, standing next to a hypothetical father figure who's chosen to strap his firearm to his belt for the trip to the grocery store. I imagined my own upbringing, inundated enough surely by play guns and video games and movies. And then I compared it to this imagined life of yours. Where I saw a gun on TV or in a movie, you looked at the one your dad carried up and down the frozen pizza isle. The screen or the petty plastic impersonation of a gun I played with was the parallel to your expertise on the real thing. While my perspective ended at commercial breaks, your awareness of weaponry continued as long as your father stayed near. And I realized that my upbringing didn't produce a man at all enfatuated with weapons or violence. And I realized yours might not either. But likewise, I remember my friends with exposure the same as mine who collected guns, and moved to knives and then others. And then I wonder, again considering the degree to which your perspective dwarfs mine, what about your friends, with similar exposure as you but a response to that exposure more proportional to those firneds of mine who hid weapons under their beds for the thrill of it? If firing at monsters or terrorists in virtual ware zones enticed my friends to glean small stockpiles of weapons, before they could vote or even buy cigarettes, what might be the result of your friends eyeing the steely glint of their father's 9mm from the time their curiosity bring's them to their clumsy toddler feet? Are guns really the ultimate object of my wonder here, no. Instead, my mind wants to proclaim something about the men (and women) we are to be. Protect and cherish your rights; they come to you coated in the blood of heroes and the massacred innocent. But do not hand them such an insult as mindlessness. How are our rights to evolve from the state our founers set them in? For the sake of rearticulating our entitlement to arm ourselves, we hang pistols from our person. It is our right as Americans. But how is the continuation of such a tradition, from an age of volatility and violent revolution into an age of relative security, a demonstration of national sophistication, a demonstration of the idea that America seeks a quality of life (including a state of peace) others cannot waste time imagining? Are we to be the sort of men who burden their sons and daughters with a notion of perpetual alarm so that we can continue attempting to prove a proven point? Don't we descrbie to our children, to you Future, a world worth fearing and fighting by insisting to strap up before going out for coffee? The right is ours, certainly. But the dignity only belongs to those examining their own entitlement and deciding that new battles have come upon us, ones that concern the sort of men and women our children will have the chance to be; I believe, Future, that the sort of person you will have a chance to be largely depends on the way my world chooses to understand and participate in the evolution of freedom. Keep this in mind when that person, so long from now, questions the sort of man or woman you are to be. For now forget guns or constitutional rights; you'll have plenty of time to wade in the pool of perpetual bickery. No, I mean remember that the presence of entitlement means little, and will sew you nothing worthy of remark, without the engine of your best existence, your consideration of a world that, like the planets to the stars, travels the impressions your life exerts. Erik in the past

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