Monday, April 13, 2015


One of my favorite clichés is “woven into the fabric of society”. English teachers warn against using tired old truisms; come up with something new, they say. Most of the time, these is good advice, but remember a cliché is what it is because it makes a point so well. That is how I feel about this one but with the caveat added, we should never be content; we should keep looking for ways to express deeper meaning.

The thought came to mind while I was listening to the endless news reports about the Boston Bombers; all the senseless killing and raw emotions associated with the incident. In the background verbiage, various reported were referencing many peripheral things deeply “woven” into our society. For example, I heard several times that the National Rifle Association had prevented, by lobbying Congress, from putting tracers in gun powered that would allow tracking the source of explosive. Also, I saw video clips of an America born terrorist trying to recruit other terrorists that the Untied States guns were easily available; our country was “awash in guns’, was his exact words. I could imagine assault rifle owners in Boston going to the closet or gun cabinet. What could these untrained disorganized people do with these guns? If they looked out the window, the streets filled with a well-organized militia trained to protect them. It was a Norman Schwarzkopf “overwhelming force” response made famous in desert storm. They had strong evidence it was two people, shortly reduce to only one they were after.

Overwhelming force is the American way. We see it every TV show where swat teams invade houses of drug dealers, etc. Many people own a weapon designed to kill people because they are free to do so, even though they do not know how to or want to use it, is the American way. Armed people already protected by well-armed forces in excessive numbers are the American way.  American people complain about privacy but are grateful for store camera surveillance of the streets when the Tsarnaev brothers planted their bombs. They cursed the NRA for preventing tracers in gunpowder, which prevented easy tracing of the explosives. The point is that all of these things are intricately “woven into the fabric of our society” but the cliché misses the point. A fabric can be all one color, can be dark and unappealing but it also can be alive and vibrant, it can be static or dynamic, it can organized or it can be chaotic; it isn’t the fabric so much as it is beautiful because of the pattern but is interesting because it is always changing.

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