Tuesday, November 8, 2011

DREAM: THREATS AND GUNS.. September 21, 2009, edited Nov. 8, 2011

DREAM: I with a dozen others was being held hostage at gun point. We were together in a business meeting setting. Suddenly a man(maybe others) was in front of us with a hand gun. I was lying face up on a table with my arms raising my torso up. I felt I was his easiest target if he began to shoot. I was very conscious that I was likely to be killed any moment. And that our dead bodies would be in the news tomorrow. I recognized him  as a child I had attended Vacation Bible School with when we were both children. I was astounded he was now threatening to kill me and my friends. The man was very upset and emotional. That scene ended and we were all still together with the one(s) threatening us. The gun was not in the open now but we all knew the threat was there just the same. I was talking with a few and noticed the primary threatening man was watching our lips from afar. A lady, maybe my daughter, said to us, " I'm going to cry again." I said I understood that 'one cry does not take care of everything.' She seemed fine then. I then deliberately looked at him and mouthed clearly some statement of defiance. He called for me. I had opportunity for conversation with him. I began to assure him that I had always cared about him as a good friend. I went over how we had met. I reminisced of how we had been in VBS as kids. I reminded him of our Church of Christ heritage. He seemed totally taken in and touched by all this remembering talk. He said he had preached some for a Church of God but had come back to the Church of Christ. Our conversation ended, he flinched and came immediately back to the present and to his threatening tone with me. The talk had not effectively changed his mind. The dream ended.

The dream was frightening. I was able to picture dying like this. This dream is appropriate for our day with the constant threat of terrorism. This was experiencing the effects of direct terrorism. I knew I was very angry at the man, and maybe others, who were holding us hostage and threatening our lives. I could not contain myself from the direct statement back to him. Once talking to him I  actually began to feel genuine compassion for him. It was obvious he had been seriously hurt and traumatized long ago and had not found his deeper stronger self as he grew to manhood. He was now at heart a pathetic 'little kid' who was quite cowardly. So he had taken personal power by picking up a gun and using it to over power our group by threatening to kill us.

There is little sicker psychological place for a human to end up than to be willing to violently threaten  harm to others with the power of a weapon. I also have a  questioning estimate of the spiritual/psychological  maturity of persons who are enthralled with the need of having guns in their personal possession.(I'm not speaking of legitimate hunters.) There is nearly a worship of guns by some in our culture. This need and drive does not come, I think, from the healthy part of our cultural mind. It comes from fear, need to control, and need to feel one's personal power in unredeeming ways---against any possible imagined enemy. We fail to realize the powerful symbolism of the gun. When we insist on its importance, and its claimed potential to make life more safe, when we display it as a sign of patriotism we are boosting up a strong sense of violence in our culture and among our young people.  Guns are made to harm and kill.  'The Gun' is the definitive symbol of  violence of humans against  humans in our high tech culture. When young people hear  guns idealized and  described as something positive to identify with we encourage the theme of violence in our society.  Also 'The Gun' is the method of choice of successful suicide by men in our culture. More males  die of gun suicide in America than are even  killed in  gun homicide.  Such suicides  are often by men who are very well trained in gun use and safety such as policemen, hunters and military. This concrete suicide information is  another  strong reason to limit gun access rather than glorifying guns as we do. To have the kind of emotional need and attachment to 'our guns'  as seen in the political debate and fostered by the the NRA is a sign of emotional/spiritual weakness and fear, not the opposite.

The dream suggests that sometimes conservative fundamentalist religion, and most certainly extreme right wing politics,  and the adoration of guns are very parallel and are frequently  found together. The general mindset that is often operating in ones who cling to literal Bible interpretation is one of a strong sense of 'having an enemy'. The O.T. stories emphasize the reality of physical enemies in one's life and the importance of combating the enemy.  Someone thoughtfully pondered whether America would know how to live without a designated foreign enemy? An individual or a nation can actually have an internal need to always have a physical enemy to wish dead. This kind of psychology  keeps the violent spirit alive and begs nature for an enemy to fight and kill. And nature seems willing to oblige.  The man in the dream and I learned we were in the 'Lord's Army' at VBS. That little seemingly innocent song sets the tone  for the appropriateness to be violent in the name of God. When ones enemy becomes other people then the seeds of hostility and violence are already being stored up. Misguided religion is used in our world to sustain various kinds of hostility... whether toward other nations, other faiths or groups such as the gay community, the most poor, Arab decent  or immigrants. Muslim fundamentalists create the same environment for  their violence against Western people. No one is immune from this vitriol and guns are always a primary important symbol and activity of it wherever such themes are being nourished.  Also race hostility is still extremely alive which our having a black president, who does not stand primarily for only traditional  white conservative values, has made obvious the past three years. A popular conservative political personality recently made the statement, “Our party's  blacks are so much better than their blacks.' She seemed oblivious to the blatant  racism in such a statement.

I do however strongly believe that one must feel free, individually and collectively, to 'take care of and defend themselves' in matters of genuine self defense. In the dream I would not have hesitated to use a gun against these hostage takers if I had the chance. But there is a difference in preparing in outward intimidating ways, which is what letting people know I have a gun is doing, for a rather unlikely enemy; and a genuine threat against oneself. In much gun advocacy there is an 'enjoyed excitement' about the fight to 'keep my loaded gun.' People are seen to be having a kind of emotional rush over  their guns. It is all about ones true inner attitude... many look for and expect an enemy and so are already in fear and ready to fight. Surely this can easily become a self fulfilling prophecy.
Proud Of Our Guns
This same principle can be true regarding national security. Notice the quick attack on Obama for anything that appears to be lessening our 'big guns' profile, even when logic leads to the conclusion we don't need the same big guns now.  We are seeing that we are nationally often capable of stopping determined  cruel individuals and leaders of terrorism  individually rather than  resorting to war where many innocent lives are taken as well. The older way is not the best way to now to defend against the most real threats. It comes back to contrasting attitudes again. I think one is an attitude of fear and expectation of enemy threat and the other is a confidence and realistic estimate that the only long term answer to lowered violence is in changed relationships and humans of all stripes coming to a higher level of consciousness and acceptance of cultural differences. This latter attitude does not mean to throw away all guns or to become pacifist in the presence of genuine attack. But it means looking at a broader picture than , " I'm gonna have my guns ready to take care of me and mine". Eventually we have to see that the need for hostility has to be lowered in the world for any more permanent safety to become a reality. Our present love for guns and reluctance to reduce military build up does not promote expectations of less hostility and violence. It does the opposite.

What do people who make real and overt threats in the world's communities need to hear from ones seeking peace and mutual survival? The dream says they need to hear us saying that, “we are not really intimidated and that we well know and resent the sin they are committing against us." And the dream shows that we should look for opportunities to engage such people in genuine dialogue. In such dialogue we should pray for the capacity to see such a person as weak and underdeveloped spiritually, often by an environment they could not control. This does not excuse bad behavior but we are obligated to try to understand it before we react to it violently. We should have a genuine empathy for that condition knowing that we all are only a short way from being there ourselves. Only by God's grace are we not seeking to have some kind of intimidating power; whether it be religious dogma, political ideology, or our 'gun rights', over someone else. You can be grateful if you have arrived at that place. And you can give an example that will help others to move in the same direction. This is the best approach to a more safe and peaceful world.

The dream does not show such an attitude as having an immediate effect on the ones who are making threats. But it still says this is the only approach that offers any hope for such change happening in significant and permanent ways.. It implies that more good was done in this direction than can be immediately seen. The hostage taker was, for a moment, in a state of mind that was not possessed by the will to have power over and to intimidate others. He, for a moment , was in a higher and truer level of consciousness. The dream is offering clear advise for how more enlightened people should attempt to bring a more peaceful world into existence. In the meantime the dream also says we must  be willing to continue to 'cry' for our world. This is part of the 'cooperative suffering' that humans and the Sacred are still experiencing together and is what can lead to a genuinely more sane and safer world. Jim Hibbett

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