Mutually Assured Destruction

26 10 2007

I walk home from work every day through a metal and glass canopy in downtown Manhattan, the falling sun’s beams crashing onto the buildings’ beams and splaying across the pollutant-rich sky — which creates a strikingly synthetic blend of orange, pink and lime green.

Near the end of this walk, I come to the New York Stock Exchange, where a dozen men in black flak suits lean against the cement wall or prop themselves up against the low, black and thick iron fence that creates a 50-foot perimeter around the building. Against their bodies they clutch thick black automatic rifles, guns that could cut down a front line, let alone a rogue, strapped subversive.

It’s somehow comforting, this destructive potential. And little else could be quite so disconcerting.

Over the past six years, amplified by Michael Moore’s declaration of it to the public in Fahrenheit 9/11, Americans have lived with a duality of fear and might. Instead of what perhaps came before, which I assume was something like a gradient from fear to confidence, we have supplanted an internal assuredness with external force.

Guns are our pillows, armor our blankets. We have entrusted our safety in the hands of those whose hands hold things that signify something far less than safety.

America has become a land of mutually assured destruction. We feel secure when we know that we have more firepower than our enemies, whoever they might be. But if we want to get back to America, the pre-9/11 variety (if that’s possible), we’ll need a more internal variety. Guns are great, guts are better.

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