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Guns, Globalization And The Politics Of Change

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Before this news cycle ends and some new tragedy, disaster or global calamity grabs our juvenile attention, I have a few words on what's happening in America right now, and by extension, the world.

First to the Dallas shooting:

"We must take a hard look at the ease with which wrongdoers get their hands on deadly weapons," attorney general Loretta Lynch said following the murder of five police officers.

Here's the problem with that statement: how do you prevent "wrongdoers" from getting deadly weapons when the wrongdoer in question has no criminal record, and moreover, was an army veteran? He was an innocent, law abiding citizen -- that is, until he pulled the trigger.

Of course the gun lobbyists may concede that you can't prevent people from having a mental breakdown or getting worked up because of a social injustice, but if guns were more readily available, then armed citizens would be able to stop shooters dead in their tracks.

"Right smack between the eyes," as Donald Trump said following the Orlando massacre. But wait a minute. The five police officers killed in Dallas were armed. Heck, they were police officers! Having guns and being professionally trained to use them did not prevent the attack.

The fact of the matter is this: Guns don't kill people. People with guns kill people. Lots of people. Remove guns from the equation and we'll still be left with a few crazy or disenfranchised individuals, but they won't have the means to inflict mass harm.

And so, in a desperate plea to my fellow Americans who remain dogged in their devotion to the Second Amendment, please consider the words of someone worthy of respect -- Jesus Christ:

"The law was made to serve man, the man was not made to serve the law."

In other words, Jesus is saying that if the law isn't serving us as a society -- we should fix it! We should amend it! We should adapt it to the needs and complexities of our times. Saying that the Second Amendment is carved in stone because it's written in the Constitution is like saying that slavery is cool because it was codified in law for centuries (and in the Bible, too).

Folks -- traditions change. They need to change. They need to evolve with the times because the world is changing. Our values and moral codes must remain firm, but the application of those values to the world must adapt to the forces of modernity.

Which brings me to the bigger picture: The pace of global change. It's frightening!

We don't know what the job market, let alone technology, or the borders of the Middle East will look like in a few years from now. Will artificial intelligence pose a threat to humanity (according to Elon Musk it will)? Will global warming and the melting of the polar ice caps flood urban centers on every coast? Will the growing gap between rich and poor among western nations lead to class warfare and the demise of capitalism?

There is so much uncertainty, and yes, it is scary.

And so in the face of all this upheaval we cling to tradition and to lost or imagined realities in order to feel safe and secure. Brexit and the revival of nationalist movements around the world are a manifestation of people clinging to a glorified past in the face of an uncertain and troubled future. (Add a failing economy and mass migration to the mix and aha! there you have a recipe for a scapegoat).

Barack Obama represented change in America, but that change scared a lot people and we are now starting to see the ramifications. (Enter Donald Trump.) Mass immigration and the perceived threat to British hegemony led to Brexit and the repudiation of the European Union.

Yes, a battle is quietly being waged between the old and the new. Tradition and modernity. Change and the old world order.

How will all this change play out you ask? No one knows. Not even Fareed Zakaria and Thomas Friedman. But in the face of global change we need to remain grounded and centred in something. And I'm afraid that something is, well, each other.

Folks, we need to love each other. We need to respect and appreciate each other and understand that like the ecosystem, humans beings are inter-dependent; that what happens in Afghanistan or Australia will have consequence on New York and New Delhi. We are all in this together. And we can no longer close our eyes and pretend we don't see -- because our eyes have been opened. With the Internet we now have access to knowledge and information at the click of a button and are privy to painful realities hitherto unknown thanks to the smartphone camera of a teenage girl in Tunis or Tanzania.

My friends, the world is changing. America is changing. But we need not be afraid of it. Instead we must walk towards it with a spirit of curiosity, courage and compassion. As Steven Spielberg said during his recent Harvard commencement address: "The only answer to more hate is more humanity. We must replace fear (of the other) with curiousity," for only then will we find the "we" and connect with each other.

Let us therefore approach our future together, united in the understanding that change is inevitable, and that we have the power to write a new chapter and not a painful re-run we've all seen before.

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