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I’ve noticed a plethora of people with guns on television. i often turn the TV on for meals and, being without a digital program guide, sequentially scroll through the channels until i find something worthwhile; and in English. Worthwhile is an optimistic overstatement. I know that guns and television go together like Starsky and Hutch or World and War so it isn’t only the number of appearances but the accompanying attitude of the gun-bearers.

It’s funny, in a funny sort of way, to see characters in “poise”. Shoulders taut, both hands clasped around the beloved Browning 9mm, legs sprawled in an athletic horse stance while Biff or Buffy enter a room where there’s likely a bad-guy waiting with an automatic weapon and determined to not be taken alive.

I once had occasion to witness a pair of armed, well-trained police officers refuse to climb a fence in the dark to pursue a guy who’d just been seen running away from an armed robbery of a convenience store. They just walked away. We knew the guy had crossed over to the next property because he’d stopped to chat with us prior to the appearance of his pursuers. We were certain that he was still there because there wasn’t anywhere else for him to go, no escape route.

Don’t know why they didn’t call for help or simply wait him out. They ordered us to get back inside the place we were at. Sure, now that we know we’re on our own out here…

A person with a loaded gun and bad intentions is dangerous and only slightly more so because of the intentions. You haven’t lived until you’ve had a nervous cop pointing his 9mm in your face but I digress. It’s no small feat to kick in a door with the knowledge that you are deliberately taking one step closer to the end of your life.

We’re presented with these absurd scenes by actors who, we are led to believe, are realistically depicting a role within a plausible story. Thing is, most of this stuff represents what would be in the real world a wet-your-pants, no thanks pal, I’m not gonna’ be walking through that door moment. The next level of consideration is about what happens to our perspective, our own relative place on the courage spectrum when we’re inundated with this kind of floss. Am I a coward because I’d be terrified to kick in the door just like Biff?

From binary control, flight or flee, our mind knows the most appropriate approach to these scenarios. For thousands of years Generals have sought the most effective training to convert people into patriotic killers. For thousands of years people have been turned into the fodder of command, physically and psychologically. It seems to start with a betrayal of our belief system.

The Roman Emperor, Fabian, formalized a methodology of altering the belief system of a population based upon an approach of introducing change in measured amounts, so as to avoid that annoying push-back. In addition to the actual changes that occur, the population becomes accustomed to the idea of accepting changes that might not seem appropriate. Thus, once acclimatized, it becomes easier to push more change and, in time, enough changes has passed so that the entire social context has changed. Voila, paradigm shift.

This approach, named Fabianism in honour of the Emperor, has been described in metaphor as “how to boil a frog” – you put the critter in cold water and gradually heat up the water – otherwise, if the water becomes too hot, too quickly, the reptile would choose flee and, jump out. The first step is to get him to betray his own belief system. Once he’s used to that, keep cranking up the heat and eventually, Frog Legs Provincial.

Or, turn up the heat until there’s an army of men and women who become coerced into doing things they intuitively know are enveloped in the stench of wrong. In the glow of today’s media the rest of us become awash in gratitude for the courage of those who kick in doors to apprehend bad guys those nasty people who would otherwise steal our jewelry and kill our dogs. We know that we couldn’t be like Biff or Buffy though our beliefs have also been compromised and we’re ready to be fed more. Create the itch and offer the scratch…war, or whatever-on-demand.

Written by glh

December 6, 2010 at 17:26

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