slaughter and depredation in the Middle East ... in the midst of random and not-so-random killings in the U.S. ... in the midst of some quietly-pleading and worn-out voice that says, "Make it stop!" ... in the midst of the fact that my wife is off to New Jersey today to visit with a sister whose daughter's two-year-old son has been diagnosed with leukemia ... in the midst of a saddened and saddening matrix within ... in the midst of all that, yesterday, my younger son purchased a pistol.
"You OK with that?" my older son asked in an even tone. And the fact was that I really didn't know. Pistols are for killing people. They are possible. The difference between an hypothesis and a pistol on the hip is far less of a stretch than is often portrayed. My son had taken all the legal steps to assure that the pistol was within the law. He showed me the pistol. It was surprisingly light. In his purchase, he had crossed a line between theory and fact: Everyone's got a killer instinct -- it's what they do with it that counts. Denial is not an option. Will my son make a mistake? I pray not. I pray that he will not be forced to confront the fact that hurting someone else is wounding oneself, sometimes grievously. I pray and yet failure to man up to the killer instinct, to own what you own ... it may be nice not to have to confront it, but not confronting it is cotton candy.
No, I didn't know what I felt. Was I OK? Well, everyone walks on his or her own road, no matter how hard they may pose on someone else's road. I was glad my son owned a pistol in the sense that in a confrontation with the 'lawful authorities' I suspect may be brought to bear against American citizenry ... well, a little push-back is not a bad idea ... or rather, it's a lousy idea but sometimes there is nothing left but lousy options.
I am ashamed that my generation has come up with no better than a gun-crazed citizenry. I am sorry. And simultaneously I know that I might kill someone else with the hammer I used for so many years to drive nails. My son will have to be his own kind of grown-up and I suspect that my implicit losing of parental control is part of my dust-stormy confusion about a pistol. I am proud of him for seeing the matter through and I pray -- as with all prayers that get answered in the affirmative -- that it will not be too painful an affirmation.