In the wake of the horrific Aurora shootings this past week, we’re all shaken here in Colorado. It’s too bad, really, that it takes an event of this magnitude – of evil on a scale this large – to spur us into an extra-tight hug for our kids and an extra level of vigilance and care in our communities. But it is what it is: we have a sorry tendency, as a species, to slide continuously into complacency and ennui, jolted awake from time to time by visions of the basest capabilities of the human animal.
I had a few exchanges over the weekend with readers, mostly checking in on me – thank you! (And, apparently, my geek cred is intact, since many of you guessed I’d be at a midnight showing of DKR.) I did have one email, though, that gave me pause.
“Do you think differently at moments like this,” the email read, “about including high-powered weapons in your books?”
I hope that, in the two books completed to date, I’ve made it very clear that such weapons have no place anywhere – in our world, or in anyone else’s. The development of weapon tech in Reswyt is an affront to the realm’s original purpose, and it’s the goal of the protagonist to return Reswyt to its pristine state.
Note that I didn’t say a non-violent state. Violence is a fact of life; I know this, living in a house with two nine-year-olds and a six-year-old. I’m constantly exerting civilizing pressure on three children that occasionally feel the need to just haul off and slug each other, and there’s a host of real or imagined physical slights taking place here constantly. (As an aside, when you accidentally harm someone, it’s an accident; when someone else accidentally harms you, that’s a premeditated act of war – or so it seems to the under-ten set.) Reswyt is red in tooth and claw, and always will be; good and evil want confrontation at some level – otherwise, we’d be absent youth counselors and law-enforcement officers and counterterrorism agents and other real-world superheroes that want a crack at real-world evil. Those confrontations are how we learn who we are in this life; when something like Aurora happens, it jars awake the active force for good inside all of us. (It’s telling, I think, that the shooter was consistently described as ‘cheering for the villain’ in movies and books; do we need any deeper insight into his soul than that one fact?)
But maybe, just maybe, I’m asking the question in the Dreamline series of whether the escalation of violence is inherent to the human condition – and whether there’s something we can do about it. I can’t find a historical newswire entry for ‘crazed man breaks into movie theater and proceeds to pummel moviegoers with his fists.’ How did we get here? Through a fearsome acceleration of our ability to kill on a large scale. And while we can’t put the genie back in the bottle on every level, we can certainly work to limit our own access to weapons like those used in the Aurora massacre – to slow or even stop that acceleration of deadly capacity.
Sabine’s work in Reswyt is a dream of mine, and perhaps of yours – the possibility of resetting that acceleration and forever sealing off its ability to restart. It’s not an idealized utopia – not when your soul may be taken down by a pack of wolves on a nightly basis. But it is a viable one, respecting the fact that there’s no way to legislate out of existence your ability to punch someone in the face. And it’s one that you can be a part of, in your own way. Assault weapons and high-caliber handguns and hundred-round magazines have no place in our society; no one needs them for personal defense purposes, and they’ve been put to overwhelmingly more evil than good in the hands of deranged individuals over the past two decades. We’ve all seen that. Now it’s time to tell your Congressional representatives to limit private consumer access to these products.