The human sacrifice of America

We Americans look down upon so-called primitive cultures such as the Aztecs who overtly practiced human sacrifice in obedience to their deeply held beliefs. We see their sacred celebration of violence as savagely cruel and backwards and we condemn it. And yet, America regularly sacrifices its people at the temple of gun worship, and justifies it through obedience to its own deeply held beliefs. 

That the Second Amendment, which clearly and unambiguously states that the right to bear arms is tied to “a well-regulated militia”, has been interpreted by a conservative movement and Supreme Court to mean an eighteen-year-old can purchase an AR15 assault rifle boggles the rational mind. But at the temple of gun worship, all things are possible.

One difference between Aztec human sacrifice rituals and America’s gun slaughter is that the Aztec activity was state sponsored. One may make a strong case that in our times, state sponsored human sacrifice is what we call war, on which we spend billions in preparation and implementation. For all we know, however, individual Aztecs might have regularly murdered  others for their own satisfaction and objectives. For hundreds of years American enslavers certainly had no qualms about sacrificing the African Americans they owned.

In Ancient Greece, which we like to think of as the cradle of democracy, men were permitted to do anything they liked with their property, which technically included their enslaved, wives, and children. While no Ancient Greek Bill of Rights existed, if it did perhaps its Second Amendment would have stated that the state could not regulate the right to sacrifice. If that sounds crazy, it’s no crazier than what’s happening in America right now.

Gun sales have skyrocketed, in large part because gun sales have skyrocketed. In a climate of fear, mass-shootings now happen so regularly that barely a day goes by without news of another one; people figure that if “they” have guns, “we” need guns. Perhaps with visions of cinematic shoot-outs in their heads, people imagine themselves as Dirty Harrys, sure-shot gunslingers who can take out the bad guys. Such ridiculous fantasies fuel gun ownership and are the stuff of celebrity worship; reality is more sordid: bloody domestic violence, accidental deaths, street shootings, and horribly, mass murder of elementary school children.

Human sacrifice, what we sophisticated people call first-degree, premeditated murder, satisfies emotional needs that can become pathological. Many serial murderers, according to psychologist Sue Grand, are often motivated by a pathological need for intimacy that, tragically, is satisfied by repeatedly sharing the moment of death with their victims. Thus, the very human experience of feelings of loneliness or isolation morph into bizarre pathological forms of violence invented to assuage them. One must assume that some variation of this syndrome drives a lonely, isolated eighteen-year-old to seek recognition and selfhood by destroying helpless children.

The gun lobby argues that guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Perhaps the Aztecs wrestled with this same absurd argument, but substituted gods for guns in their logic. But the end result is the same; be it gods or guns, sacrificing lives for the sake of a sacred, or near-sacred belief in violence, is what kills people. We may look down on the Aztecs, but the near-sacred idea that guns will save and protect us is just as foolish and misguided as thinking that sacrificing children will insure a good harvest.

2 thoughts on “The human sacrifice of America

  1. Larry; When I was in QuiNhon Vietnam with the Navy in the late 60s ,I carried an AR15 assault rifle which fired 15 or 20 rounds automatically ,quickly. In my opinion ,it is preposterous to allow this kind of military weapon ,designed for killing people ,to be available to the public.
    That said, these multiple shootings by people ,with some sort of mental derangement ,demands change. However, the situation is complex and demands intelligent multi disciplined focus to create that change. As I see if the issues are as follows:
    1. Easy availability of at least these kinds of guns
    2. need for far stricter criteria to obtain guns
    3. Although potentially invading citizens right to privacy, The computer world probably has sufficient data now and ways to detect the red flags for people with potential for criminal gun activity.
    4. Many of these shooters come from identifiable antisocial behavior within their peer groups or dysfunctional broken family situation. This is a tough one but more public awareness of the situation’s needs to be developed and I don’t have the answers.
    5. What do we do about the aggressive attitude amongst many of the gun owner population?

    I don’t like the term “gun lobby”
    This is a very divisive and emotional comment and suggests that an real organization exists or that it’s some sort of politically group which pits the right from the left.
    7. I believe this kind of real change needs to start with state governors. Our federal government has repeatedly shown an inability to manage effectively this kind of major responsibility. I think the Covid response is a good example.
    thnx For listening

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