combat writing badge C O M B A T
the Literary Expression of Battlefield Touchstones
ISSN 1542-1546 Volume 04 Number 02 Spring ©Apr 2006

Guns Don't Kill People

"Life is not a contest! ... no matter how well or badly you live, no matter how smart or rich or attractive or famous anyone happens to be, everybody dies. Most of what happens is beyond our control, so we can try to do some things gracefully, and be kind to each other when we have a chance."
anonymous guru

      In a world of chaos
      And a time of confusion,
      They say that
      Guns don't kill people,
      That people kill people
      And they must be right
      For all I have known
      In this life of suffering and woe
      Is vicious mayhem
      Shot through the eyes and tongues
      As power from the barrel of a gun
      And through the bullet
      Or the bomb
      Or the mine
      Or the gas or napalm
      Or toxic microbes or deadly molecules
      Or cosmos splitting atoms
      Drafted for the cause of the greater good
      Did the dirty deed
      It was the filthy mind
      And hardened heart
      That caused the event,
      Those horrendous episodes
      Marking humankind's progression
      With such momentous milestones ...
      And yet who among us is free
      Of the passions and commitments
      That rue our days?
      Our cultures thrive on violence,
      But soldiers cannot afford the luxury of hate,
      So pols and clerics and journalists
      Are seemingly nourished by venom!
      Entrepreneurs and teachers, police and medicos
      Vehemently divide and subdivide their worlds
      And lawyers have become the new casuists
      For the modern inquisition
      Into true belief!
      But for indisputably abominable malice
      Go no further than the nearest woman scorned!
      Mothers-in-law and divorcées
      Are just the latest iteration
      Of tribeswomen torturing incapacitated warriors!
      Anything but that!
      But consider their pathetic plight,
      They always have such fine excuses
      For boiling a man's brain inside his skull!
      For feeding him piecemeal to vermin!
      For exsanguinating him with a thousand cuts!
      For immuring or enslaving him
      Until he is no more!
      Certainly they do ... and don't we all?
      Is there anyone, even the criminally insane,
      Who cannot rationalize his conduct?
      Who does not explain his behavior?
      Who does not justify himself?
      And perhaps some are more logical than others,
      But don't they sound just like us?
      And look just like us?
      And act just like us?
      Are we so filled with a death wish,
      Paling our other torrid lusts,
      That we seek the extinction of life as we know it?
      As a former footslogging trigger-puller,
      I've seen lots of silver bullets
      But never a magic bullet that worked!
      There is no miraculous fail-safe
      Since whatever the mind of man can devise
      The mind of man can penetrate or pervert,
      So the mechanical safety
      Of moral and physical discipline
      Is the only fix I've found
      For our ubiquitous intolerance ...
      If we do not makhe psychic space and private room
      For us to accommodate each other,
      Then we will find our desperate wish fulfilled:
      We shall all be proved incontestably right,
      Dead right!

"They made a trophy to the honored dead with their arms and armor, and when this memorial had decayed away, we had not forgotten war, but only the glorious battles of our past."
anonymous scholar

by Bock Pauldron
... who is a Vietnam War veteran, a social worker, and freelance writer; with works published in professional journals and literary magazines.

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