Not Enough Bullets

Written by: Terry Link

Primary Source : Possibilitator, June 1, 2017

I am struggling to remember an earlier time in my life when I felt like the world was as surreal as I find it now. We have a person in the drivers seat so self-absorb, most professional mental health experts I know concur  that he suffers from Narcissistic Behavior Disorder (NBD), based upon his public statements and behavior. 

        “Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.” (Mayo Clinic)

 As a result, he is making decisions that defy any rational worldview while bringing great embarrassment to the country he represents. If it was just the embarrassment, I would not be so worried. But his policy decisions are almost mind-numbing. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in his recent budget proposal that trades $54 billion for more militarization of our already overly militarized society, in exchange for a combination of tax cuts- mostly for the wealthiest, and reductions in social, environmental and diplomatic programs.

Three-Fifths of Cuts in Trump Budget Come in Low- and Moderate-Income Programs

The utter folly of this approach is clear to most serious economists.  CNN Money Magazine called it

“President Trump’s first budget can be summed up like this: Big gifts for the rich, big cuts for the poor.”

He would give a lot more money to the defense industry and wealthy                      taxpayers, and he would pay for that with an unprecedented slashing of safety      net programs for America’s poor. (CNN/Money)

Of course, when someone does offer criticism the NBD individual often exhibits the following symptoms:

    “At the same time, you have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism. You may have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation. To feel better, you may react with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make yourself appear superior. “(Mayo Clinic)
While our NBD leader continues to keep everyone off balance trying to anticipate his next decision, tweet, or comment, others are busy at the state level reeking havoc on our society. Our legislature here in Michigan tried to pass legislation to repeal the state income tax while our schools, colleges, infrastructure, health care and safety net are disintegrating as we race to beat Mississippi to the bottom of the rankings.
While we dodged that bullet for the moment – they are regrouping, another gang of NRA legislative servants have moved to do away with permits for guns, and therefore with any required training one might hope the vigilantes would receive. Of course, they argue that the 2nd amendment absolutely permits citizens the right to own and bear arms of any kind, any where, any time. As I left the hearing room last week after offering testimony urging the committee members to slow the arms race, not to accelerate it, I was followed out by an open-carry advocate all the way to the elevator, concerned that I was willing to allow the police to be the only perpetrators of violence.
I am not a psychologist, but I wonder if the ardent gun enthusiasts suffer from a syndrome not unlike the NBD. They seem either paranoid that they will be randomly attacked by some scheming criminal just waiting for them to walk by, or they get some strange rush from having the feel of cold steel next to their body. They talk as if there are criminals everywhere looking for strangers to assault, whereas we know that most gun deaths are among people who know each other. Such was the case of the young man I saw shot and killed a few hundred feet away nearly 50 years ago. They had been playing pool the night before.
The committee just passed this legislation on a party-line vote (guess who voted for and against). The insecurity industry that feeds the fear is aided and abetted by the television and motion picture industry which fill the airways and theater screens with endless violence. Violence, where the hero, like in the old westerns of the last century, always manages to shoot quicker, aim straighter. The villains are dispatched and everyone lives happily ever after. Of course, those fictions never have innocent bystanders harmed. We don’t see the orphans, the widows, the maimed.
Our addiction to violence in guns runs from the continued enlargement of the US military footprint – now more than 800 military bases around the world, the number one seller of arms of all kinds to almost anyone willing to pay. Heck, if you’re a friend (especially if you’re a dictator or monarch) we’ll give you the weapons as foreign aid. Who wins – the weapons makers. Lockheed Martin’s stock goes up every time there is a rumble somewhere on earth that the US might get involved with. Who stands to make a killing if the US follows through with President Obama’s plan to spend $1 trillion on our nuclear weapon arsenal? Will the guy who now holds the launch key, up the ante?
The arming of citizens in our public spaces is simply a parallel response to the fear that has been sold, often by those who can profit by it. The gun as solution prevents us from addressing the causes of violence, the lack of a hopeful future and the escalating inequality. The temporary elixir of superior power is an addictive drug that permeates our society. A war on this addiction is not the answer any more than was the war on drugs or the war on terror. Instead we need an investment in social and mental health therapies. Starting with the guy with the nuclear codes.
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Terry Link
Terry Link is a retired MSU librarian, former founding director of the MSU Office of Campus Sustainability, and co-founder and former chair of the American Library Association’s Task Force on the Environment. He recently served as associate editor for the two-volume encyclopedia, Achieving Sustainability: Visions, Principles, and Practices(Gale/Cengage 2014). He has also served as executive director of a regional food bank and as a county commissioner. Currently he is president of Starting Now, LLC, a sustainability consulting firm, a Senior Fellow for the U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development and serves on numerous non-profit organization boards.
Terry Link

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