Why we "cling" to our guns and religion
That one about how we in "flyover country" (not his formulation) "cling to our guns and religion."
Something about it was bothering me in a way I couldn't quite define until now.
It's this, you only "cling" to something someone is trying to take away from you.
The remark itself presupposes that guns should be taken away from people, and religion evicted from the public sphere. Specifically, small-town America kind of people.
This of course, is not a new issue. I could go into why guns are part of the fabric of life in western small-town America: hunting and fishing are very popular hereabouts, guns are actual tools for farmers, rural people often live quite far from even the fastest response time for law enforcement, etc.
But I won't.
The reason we "cling" to our guns, or (for those of us who may not actually have any at home) our right to have guns, is that we don't trust you.
Yes you. All of you right-thinking, "progressive," "compassionate," "liberals" who are "always on the right side of social issues" (George Clooney.)
Your motives, so you say, are the best. I actually have my doubts, but I'll concede for the sake of charity.
Your methods are totalitarian. And you regard us, people who don't think like you, as in the way of what you regard as "progress."
The first you may dismiss as my opinion. The second you cannot, because you say so yourselves at any opportunity.
And I'm not going by the rhetoric of politicians, but personal conversations with any number of left ideologues who are not politicians, and thus far more honest in their publicly expressed opinions.
And as to religion, well I don't personally have an opinion on religious dogma I'd stick a finger in a match for, but more and more it is bothering me that the expression of the sincere beliefs of good people who are my friends and neighbors, are being restricted and mocked in the public sphere.
The reasons my neighbors "cling" to their religion, are their own. I don't know them, because I don't share them, but I can speculate.
1) Culture, the continuity with the past that lead to what we are - which assumes that we are by-and-large happy with what we are.
Whatever I may, or may not believe, I like being part of Judeo-Christian culture.
"Honor the stranger that is within thy gates, for once you were slaves in the land of Egypt."
"Whither thou goest, I will go. Whither thou lodgest, I will lodge. And thy people will be my people, and thy god, my god."
"Do any here condemn thee? Then neither do I. Go thy way and sin no more."
These are the thoughts that shaped the ethics and customs of my people. You could certainly do worse - and many have.
2) Morality. I may have problems with ethics that are handed down unquestioned from On High, but the fact is, (with apologies to my Objectivist friends) I haven't found a satisfactory philosophical basis for ethics that is not centered in religion either.
I've seen atheist individualists go into the most amazing (and amusing) intellectual contortions to justify, not bad behavior, but good behavior that they know deep inside to be right!
I'm not saying that someone won't eventually come up with such, but how much you want to bet it'll be intellectually accessible to the vast majority of folks who aren't philosophers?
3) Existential pain. We're going to die. Every last one of us. And the one thing that separates us from the animals is that we know this, even when we're not in mortal danger. We know this, on some level, at every waking moment from the time we first realize our mortality.
We're going to leave all the people we love, and worse, some of them are going to leave us first.
Not everyone can live with this, without the belief that it'll be made right somewhere in the hereafter.
Is this belief a myth, crutch for those who can't look reality in the face?
So what do you call someone who goes around kicking crutches out from under people; a fearless seeker of the Truth, or a bloody sadist?
And more and more these days, I've had my nose rubbed in the observation* that, "When men no longer believe in God, they do not believe in nothing - they believe in anything."
Can anyone doubt this when confronted by academics who "cling to" Marxism, and the religion of Statism, after all the experience of the 20th century?
Or just listen to the New Age babble of the "progressive" non-traditional churches.
This is what you would substitute for what you so plainly regard as our irrational superstition?
The answer from the heartland, is "No!"
And in case you don't hear it, or are not willing to listen, well that's another reason we "cling to" our guns.
*Attributed to Chesterton, though apparantly no one can find it in the corpus of his published works.