What happens when we are dictated by fear
A few nights ago, I was sitting in bed, working, with my 3-year-old asleep next to me. My newborn baby was lying in my arms. The house was supposed to be quiet, because we were home alone. But it wasn’t. I heard sounds, I couldn’t immediately place, downstairs. I thought “it’s probably the cat or the wind”. But the sounds continued, so my mind went there: what if someone is breaking into our home?
I realized there was very little I would be able to do about it. First of all, I wasn’t going to confront a burglar. That meant I would have to leave my daughters alone in bed, go downstairs and put us all in danger. No way, they can take whatever they want. As long as they don’t come upstairs… But if they would come upstairs, I would be helpless. I had nothing to protect us with.
Obviously, if I really believed there was someone in the house, I would have called the cops right then and there. I didn’t, because in the Netherlands, in our neighborhood, Ockhams razor told me it was the cat + wind option.
But the situation did give me pause.
I like to think I am an open-minded person. Not only did I grow up in the Caribbean and then move to the Netherlands when I was fourteen, giving me a multi-cultured view on life. I am also married to another woman, which makes me part of the LGBT+ community. A community that prides itself in being open to different views, ideas, feelings and thoughts. So, whenever I don’t understand something or someone I want to at least try and see it from a different perspective or put myself in the other person’s shoes. Because I hate it when people judge me: I owe it to other people not to judge immediately.
When it comes to guns, I’ve always had a hard time shifting perspective. I am firmly against guns and, as a Dutchie, I cannot, for the life of me, understand America’s obsession with owning guns.
But that late night, home alone, so vulnerable because of my daughters next to me, I opened my mind to the possibility of having a gun in the house. I probably wouldn’t stand a chance with a baseball bat, but a gun… I mean, I wouldn’t even have to leave the bed. I would see them come in and bam, bye.
It was an intensely strange thing to think about. But I have always known that, when it comes to protecting my children, I am capable of anything and everything.
I could suddenly feel a snippet of understanding for the people that keep guns for protection. But. The only reason guns became an option in my mind, was because I felt scared. It struck me that gun loving America is a society rooted in fear. I understand fear: it is a dictator. You can’t think clear when you are scared: your brain becomes trapped.
It was a snippet of understanding. It ricocheted through my mind. And then it was gone.
Because how could I ever feel safe with a gun in the house? How could I ever leave a room, relax in my own home, knowing there was a deadly weapon “lying around”. I would never want that around my children. I would be crazy to childproof the cabinets one day and buy a gun the next.
Maybe if it was in the safe and I had some serious training. But isn’t that the problem? So many people that own guns, aren’t trained, don’t take safety measures and/or have mental health issues. And. They are scared. That equation only has one outcome: danger.
In a gun invested and infested society, with such easy access to and such limited control over gun use, it is just a matter of time before something goes horribly wrong again (and again). Because, let’s face it: if people could be trusted with guns, we wouldn’t need guns in the first place.
When I talked to my wife about my late-night experience and thoughts, she firmly said “They will never change. You can’t take away their guns, they won’t allow it.” Her determination dumbfounded me. First of all, how could she, as a gay woman, not believe in the possibility of change. There is someone, right now, somewhere in a godforsaken prison being beaten to death because he is gay. He doesn’t believe that what we have is possible: two women being legally married and having babies together. Or maybe he does believe – I hope he does hold on to that bit of light. Change takes time, but it is possible.
And second – and let that be clear – I am not an advocate for “taking away all the guns”. That would be stupid. To take away the only thing that makes scared people feel safe. Fear will turn into panic in two seconds and that will only amplify the danger. I am talking about better restrictions, screening and safety measures. And addressing the fear. But I bet that will be the hardest part, because a lot of scared people equals a few powerful people making a lot of money and gaining more power.
I am not saying it’s easy or unambiguous. A week later I still haven’t figured out what I can do, to protect my daughters, if someone would break into our house wanting to harm us (they can steal whatever, I don’t really care about that). Lucky for us, I don’t live in a dangerous neighborhood and the Netherlands is a relatively safe country. I realize not everyone has the luxury of putting safety to the back of their mind like that. As I mentioned before, I lived in the Caribbean for fourteen years: I know what it’s like not to feel safe in your own home.
But I also know, guns are not the answer. Because, that means you choose to be dictated by fear. To Live in a country that acts based on fear instead of what is right for humanity.
I’ve tried to understand. I gave it a shot. But nope. USA gun laws need to change. It is a far too beautiful country to be governed by fear. You deserve better.