"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Carl, Get Your Gun

Just as I was about to start writing this an image that springs out of my "cultural" heritage popped into my head. In the movie The Breakfast Club, the man of superior conscience turns out to be Carl, the janitor.  Do you remember?  I'm pretty sure none of the teens in the movie will turn out to be of superior conscience or character, which is interesting too.  I sometimes marvel at the actual complexity in our filmed representations of institutional roles and human responses.  We know the assistant principal is an ass, not least due to the anticipated viewer response to the actor's "look."  Looking like that, Vernon is irredeemable.  But in the end we can only imagine that each of these "club" members will go their merry way just as they had prior to this day of detention even as they earned a single day of "victory" over themselves, their cultural roles, and the institution that "molds" them, becoming briefly an association of sympathetic beings.  That is, they will go back to being themselves.

Now, THAT popped into my head after reading this (excerpted from this):

MONTPELIER, Ohio - The Montpelier Exempted Village Schools Board of Education has approved the carrying of handguns by its custodial staff.

The 5-0 vote of the board Wednesday night to allow handgun training for four custodians to be able to tote weapons at the K-12 campus at the Williams County school came after last month's deadly shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut....

"Sitting back and doing nothing and hoping it doesn't happen to you is just not good policy anymore. There is a need for schools to beef up their security measures," Supertendent Jamie Grime told The Blade today. "Having guns in the hands of the right people are not a hindrance. They are a means to protect."

School board President Larry Martin said that while the school distict began looking into arming employees about six months ago, the board didn't announce the concept publicly until Wednesday's monthly meeting...

"Our main goal is to offer safety for our students while they are in the classrooms and in the buiding," Mr. Martin said. "We have to do something and this seems like the most logical, reasonable course to go with"...

The school district will pay for the employees to undergo a two-day training class in mid March, when instructors with the Tactical Defense Institute of West Union, Ohio, will give them a defense class on handgun use in Montpelier.


Of course, there's really no way to talk about this without some insanity and inanity coming from all quarters.  I personally find this response destructive.  That's a polite way to say what I'm thinking.

But I didn't come here to argue about guns.  In this country that argument is never productive.  Why I decided to share this is that I had, besides that song by Simple Minds running in my head, the immediate thought that many times it seems as if folks have never heard of the law of compensation.

Emerson puts it this way:

All things are double, one against another. — Tit for tat; an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth; blood for blood; measure for measure; love for love. — Give and it shall be given you. — He that watereth shall be watered himself. — What will you have? quoth God; pay for it and take it. — Nothing venture, nothing have. — Thou shalt be paid exactly for what thou hast done, no more, no less. — Who doth not work shall not eat. — Harm watch, harm catch. — Curses always recoil on the head of him who imprecates them. — If you put a chain around the neck of a slave, the other end fastens itself around your own. — Bad counsel confounds the adviser. — The Devil is an ass. 
It is thus written, because it is thus in life. Our action is overmastered and characterized above our will by the law of nature. We aim at a petty end quite aside from the public good, but our act arranges itself by irresistible magnetism in a line with the poles of the world....
You cannot do wrong without suffering wrong. "No man had ever a point of pride that was not injurious to him," said Burke. The exclusive in fashionable life does not see that he excludes himself from enjoyment, in the attempt to appropriate it. The exclusionist in religion does not see that he shuts the door of heaven on himself, in striving to shut out others. Treat men as pawns and ninepins, and you shall suffer as well as they. If you leave out their heart, you shall lose your own. The senses would make things of all persons; of women, of children, of the poor. The vulgar proverb, "I will get it from his purse or get it from his skin," is sound philosophy. 
All infractions of love and equity in our social relations are speedily punished. They are punished by fear. Whilst I stand in simple relations to my fellow-man, I have no displeasure in meeting him. We meet as water meets water, or as two currents of air mix, with perfect diffusion and interpenetration of nature. But as soon as there is any departure from simplicity, and attempt at halfness, or good for me that is not good for him, my neighbour feels the wrong; he shrinks from me as far as I have shrunk from him; his eyes no longer seek mine; there is war between us; there is hate in him and fear in me.

But also, what about Newton's Third Law of Motion?  To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction.

Arming janitors, or teachers, or anyone as a reaction to violent randomness is less than "reasonable" or "logical."  This is an overreaction.  That is to say an "unequal" reaction.  To me this creates "left-over" action.  That is to say, it will create another, and likely violent OR oppressive, reaction.

Creating a "militarized" institution is a "new order" in our particular culture and it will not lead to a more "enlightened" citizenry.

I don't know anymore how to say that we are creating the very life we fear and oppose.  There are a few among us who will thrive in this culture.  I am not one of them.

I'll let Waldo speak last as he always speaks better than anyone ("Power").

All successful men have agreed in one thing, — they were causationists. They believed that things went not by luck, but by law; that there was not a weak or a cracked link in the chain that joins the first and last of things. A belief in causality, or strict connection between every trifle and the principle of being, and, in consequence, belief in compensation, or, that nothing is got for nothing, — characterizes all valuable minds, and must control every effort that is made by an industrious one. The most valiant men are the best believers in the tension of the laws. “All the great captains,” said Bonaparte, “have performed vast achievements by conforming with the rules of the art, — by adjusting efforts to obstacles.” 
The key to the age may be this, or that, or the other, as the young orators describe; — the key to all ages is — Imbecility; imbecility in the vast majority of men, at all times, and, even in heroes, in all but certain eminent moments; victims of gravity, custom, and fear. This gives force to the strong, — that the multitude have no habit of self–reliance or original action.

If Carl gets his gun...what will be the equal and opposite overreaction that is habitually American?

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