Friday, February 23, 2018

One Way to Stop School Shootings. . . Beseech Africa's Trickster God for Wisdom

As a historian, I function in the secular realm. But I use the metaphors of spiritual traditions when the message conveyed carries unusual emotional clarity.  When Christian missionaries first confronted the Trickster God of West Africa, they right away assigned him the role of Satan.  Here was an entity that caused misery and trouble. He wasn't even the lovable, fairytale imp one finds in certain other traditional religions and folklore, who merely plays pranks on people.  This divinity is all-powerful and when he sees the need has no compunction against fomenting chaos and violence on unimaginable scales.

So what does the Trickster have to do with this period of mourning that has left our nation feeling raw and rudderless but for the leadership and courage shown by a bunch of grieving teenagers?  The Trickster finds ways of handing out  AR-15s to youngsters and adults alike. In each case, the lost, narcissistic soul is yearning  for something a semi-automatic rifle promises to bring. And then the slaughter begins.

If the society doesn't learn the lesson it is meant to learn at Columbine High, the Trickster moves on to ... and ...    You can see why the missionaries thought this divinity demonic.  The point here though is that either America learns its lessons or faces the slaughter of an entire generation of children and the post traumatic stress syndrome of the survivors.

So, what is the lesson the Trickster is intent on having us learn at the cost of such blood sacrifice?   It's not necessarily spiritual nor even, for that matter, moral. It's merely a history lesson.  

To begin with, America was itself founded on unspeakable violence. What did ridding a continent of its indigenous populations look like, especially to the victims? Our nation grew prosperous on the backs of slave labor. The obsession with armed militias fanned by paranoia grew out of the culture of slave patrols, when every able bodied white man in the South took up arms to protect their "way of life".  America may need to bare its soul to its own clueless citizens, if it is to get beyond its present impasse.  And then the nation must decide on ways to make the 2nd Amendment work for a modern civilized nation, rather than a Indian-ravaging slave state.

Practically speaking, America will first and foremost have to figure out a way to get military-grade weapons out of the hands of civilians. Too many folks are now as doped up on NRA and GOP empowerment fantasies as opioid addicts.  Or, the Trickster will just keep doing his thing, pleading in his own way that society not continue to sacrifice its children in vain. 

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