Léna's Lit.Life

Léna (me): Lit, as in literature, Lit, as in light, Lit, as in a little kooky: Life.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Point of View

The beast felt heavy and cold in my hands. I'd never held a hand gun, let alone an AK- 47. I was shown how to rest the butt on my shoulder and lean my cheek into it so that my eye could follow a supposed target.

Guns make me nervous. I have never really understood how they are supposed to make the world safer. They seem to give people a false sense of power. The old testament talks about "an eye for an eye", but Jesus didn't teach that. Neither did Martin Luther King Jr., or Ghandi, nor does the Dalai Lama.

Yes it's true: guns aren't violent, people are. But isn't it also true that guns make people more violent? Aren't we what we think?  When guns get into the hands of irresponsible, scared people, we have tragedy. Just look at what happened in Ohio last week.

But I'm not here to debate the the right to carry arms. As writers, as human beings, we must be open to the points of view of others. How are we going to create believable characters if we can't see beyond ourselves? How are we to love humanity if our point of view suffers from rigidity?

I want acceptance too - and I don't want to be dismissed by some of my more conservative and religious friends as a hippy-dippy liberal, right? I express my views, yet also value love and tolerance beyond all else.

My friend who owns the gun has got to be one of the most gentle and nurturing souls I have ever met. Her softness in showing me how to hold it made me feel safe in doing so, made me take the risk of seeing her point of view.

Our job as writers is to ask questions of our characters and to decipher their motivations, which, if we are really on our game, makes us learn more about ourselves.

All I know is that I don't have all of the answers, and that I am at my best when I am seeking to understand rather than to be understood. (Special nod to St. Francis there!)
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14 comments:

  1. My father has a hunting camp, and I grew up around guns but never felt comfortable around them. I'm still scared to death of them. My brother is a park ranger, trained and licenced to carry a concealed weapon. I don't know how he isn't in a constant state of panic. But he has to be prepared for the worst, like when one of the ten most-wanted men in America came to the park (ended up arrested with no violence involved on either side).

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    1. There's never an easy answer, us there? Or rather, there shouldn't be. Thank you for commenting!

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  2. I was long a supporter of gun rights, but never owned one until there was a valid reason to do so - namely, home protection, as we do not have a 24 hour police force and things like home invasions DO happen here. The weight of a weapon always reminds me of the tremendous weight of responsibility that comes with owning or carrying a firearm. I applaud you for challenging your own fears and experiencing this for yourself. You may never wish to embrace gun ownership, but at least your opinion on guns will have the benefit of a hands-on experience. Sadly, so many people condemn guns without ever taking the time to learn about them or the people who lawfully own and use them.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Dave. The responsibility is overwhelming. I don't know if I'd ever feel comfortable - unless I was fighting zombies! (Walking Dead fan over here.) (And "comfortable" is probably the wrong word to use here.)

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  3. I love your thoughts on this-perhaps because they harmonize with mine. I would actually like to learn to shoot, but it's low on my list of priorities. I can't even say "why" I'd like to learn. Perhaps it is because of the challenge of it, or because two of my sons, despite my efforts to the contrary, love pretend gun play--or perhaps it is because I want to try to understand. Like holding spiders in response to an unexpected fear of them a couple of decades ago, my desire to hold a gun, to shoot it into the center of a target, may have to do with eradicating my fear of them. Meanwhile, I tell my children when I've had my fill of fake shooting noises, "Real guns kill real people--never ever forget that."

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    1. I felt I had to open myself because my 12 year old son is so interested in weapons and the reasons we use them.

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  4. I'm trying to see all points of view, as you urge us to do in this post, but I can't for the life of me understand why a civilian would need an assault weapon like an AK-47. I do truly agree with your point about trying to understand all points of view, especially as writers, who may need to create characters who do not think or act as we do. And I admire your courage.

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    1. I'm with ya Susan. My friend's husband has a "collection", but I believe that this particular AK-47 is a semi-automatic. At least I hope so, otherwise it doesn't make sense, unless there are no bullets and it's purely part of his gun collection.

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  5. The 'beast', as you call it in your first paragraph, is the gun. And, yet, it's also that thing that's always there, hidden -- the simmering debate about gun control that emerges with new life each time a horrific shooting by a young person makes headlines. Wouldn't it be great if the debate didn't get pushed under the rug, and could be resolved once and for all? Your connection between the debate over guns and the ways in which writers frame characters is a powerful one. Best of all (and I mean no glibness), you did not shoot from the hip here.

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    1. A little glibness is called for Deborah!

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  6. Lena - we do need to respect all even when it is hard. I think if we accept rather than tolerate, we will be much better off. I am afraid of guns, but I do know very nice and giving people who have them. So that is just part of them and not the whole. eizabeth

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  7. It would be great of everyone was as thoughtful as you! Guns freak me out, but I did go shoot clay pigeons with my sons and had a blast. What I liked best, though, was driving the golf cart thingy up the mountain.

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