#874 – Dick Bernard: Craziness around….

PRE-NOTE: I had completed the entirety of the below post on April 16, but decided to hold off publishing till after Easter. Recent events, particularly in the Nevada ranch situation, make this a timely post. The overnight Just Above Sunset has a good summary on the current state of affairs.
The recent incidents in Nevada (the rancher refusing to pay rent on public land), and Kansas (the gunman who hates Jews and blacks who killed three white Christians bring back some happenings and thoughts from a while back. (Anyone interested in a longer post about the meaning of the above, here’s a useful link.)
There’s always been the crazies around.
The first one I paid serious attention to was a guy named Gordon Kahl who told the national government to go to hell, and ended up dead in 1983. His particular road to infamy covered only a few months in 1983, when he got in a shootout somewhere between the tiny towns of Heaton and Medina ND, killed a policeman and escaped, to live on for a few months till he met his own end.
I suppose the box score favored Kahl: three lawmen dead, and himself. But in the end it doesn’t make any difference. He was dead, too, only to be followed by new generations of deluded crazies destined for the same fate.
Kahl interested me because he came to national notoriety as a farmer somewhere outside Heaton ND in 1983. “Back in the day” Heaton was a hamlet seven miles or so west of Sykeston, where I graduated from HS in 1958, and the place where my Dad and Mom banked. Even then, Heaton was all but non-existent, and Sykeston was not much bigger, but for me, the word “Heaton” made Kahl noteworthy.
These days, of course, the first and greatest amendment to the U.S. Constitution is considered by some to be the 2nd amendment, to keep and bear arms. We’re at the stage, now, where every citizen is always vulnerable to somebody packing heat, who’ll shoot you on purpose, or kill you accidentally. It makes no difference if you have your own arsenal. Usually, the element of surprise prevails.
There is a big problem, however, for those who, these days, think they are above the Law, and can act with impunity whenever and wherever they wish, especially with their arms.
In 1983, not that long ago, really, communications and intelligence were primitive compared with today. It was still a paper world, and help was still a phone call away, and bad guys (and gals too) could more easily blend in out in some woods somewhere, and possibly not be found. Evidence gathering and analysis were also pretty primitive.
There is also a fatal flaw in the argument of the gun rights promoters: if you actually use that gun to kill someone you run the risk of being tried for homicide. This is another set of laws not likely to ever be repealed.
Recently I’ve been re-listening to a Willie Nelson CD, which includes the ballad of the Red-Headed Stranger, who goes free after he kills a woman who was, it is said, trying to steal his recently deceased wife’s horse. Execution preceded Charges and a Trial….
Of course, Red Headed Stranger is just a ballad, but in the days of the wild west, probably not very far-fetched.
In the end, the rancher will lose his case and, probably his ranch as well. It will just take a while. He’ll have his 15 minutes of fame, and his fan club will be on to other supposed outrages.
As for the guy in Kansas, well, he was after Jews and he killed Christians, but in the end it will make no difference. He won’t be going free.
We are a country which is an imperfect community, but it is a community, and community is where Rule of Law still means something, imperfect as it is and will always likely be.
These days the public “conversation” seems dominated by people on the ideological fringes. Makes no difference who’s position is “winning” at the time, all is lost if there is no conversation towards reaching common ground. And even then, making positive change is never easy….
My great friend, Peter Barus, sent a link and a comment about this a couple of days ago. It seems to relate to the above, if you’re interested.
April 15, 2015
Uncharacteristically I send this link.
The writer and those he cites are, I think, experienced, active pioneers in new ways of being and living in community. His focus is on culture as the basis of societal conduct. Like Howard Richards, he is saying, can’t change behaviors without changing the cultural rules.
He comes close to, but falls just short of, explicitly distinguishing two aspects I think hold the best hope for human survival in these late times.
One is “in here/out here,” which refers to effective performance. If one wants to play a game or hold a conversation – or change the world – it works to be “out here,” among other players. “In here” is (even neurologically, or especially so) less likely to produce anything but re-runs.
The other is “way-of-being-and-acting” as correlate of “our occurring worlds.” That is, we behave according to our lights. Seeing is believing. To change behaviors, I must see the world differently. We have access to this through the ways in which we speak about life.
We experience life through language, and through language we can make substantive changes to our own perceptions, and hence our own behaviors.
What sort of language? That’s the intriguing part, and the article contains a good many examples, but you have to pick most of them out for yourself.

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