BB Gun - Roger Alan Wade (mp3)
Pistol Grip - The Blakes (mp3)
The wife and I aren't what you would call gun-huggin', Charlton Heston-lovin', Bible-thumpin' conservatives. We lean left. If politics were a football field, my ball is probably on the 35-yard-line of the Liberals.
When I was in high school, I started on the 20 of the Conservative side, but I've been plodding down the field in three yards and a cloud of dust for 20 years now. It's unlikely I'll ever make it into the Liberal Red Zone, if you will, and I'm positive I'll never actually score points for either team. If anything, I worry that I'll get penalized here and there for being offsides or a false start and end up creeping back towards midfield by the time I hit my 50s.
But when I see news stories like the one we watched this morning on Good Morning America (video here), I tend to wonder just how liberal someone has to be to fall on one side of this debate as compared to the other.
The story is about Joe Horn, a 61-year-old man from Houston who hit most every branch on the Ugly Tree on his way to earth. He has no previous record of combative behavior or violence that we know of. But the man sure talked tough to a 911 operator while he fidgeted and squirmed knowing two men had broken into his neighbor's house. And the longer he talked -- waiting for cops who apparently weren't coming anytime soon -- the more he compelled himself to go outside with his loaded shotgun and enforce justice. I honestly believe ol' Joe Horn meant every tough-talkin' word he said and simultaneously didn't really know he meant it. Like my college roommate who always told other obnoxious drunk guys that he wouldn't hesitate to kick their asses. He kinda meant it, but he didn't really intend to do it... unless they chose to cross that line he'd created in his own mind.
I'm not one of those goombahs who believe Texas has the right idea in wanting every adult with a heartbeat to walk around armed and ready to pull a trigger. Further, I can't even envision a future scenario where I own a firearm that loads with anything but Nerf bullets or paintballs, so my sympathy for Joe Horn and his odd moment of vigilante justice isn't because I could be in his shoes, nor is it because I admire his state's aggressive self-defense laws. But. These two dudes broke into a house in broad daylight. What kind of world do we now live in where everyone cowers in a corner, takes no responsibility for their neighbors or their neighborhood, and just lets bad shit happen? That's the culture we've created, the rules we've apparently embraced.
My grandfather, a Baptist minister, would open his doors to transients, hobos, and Mormons. He set up places in his barn for people without shelter for the night, people who were passing through, places for them to sleep. Baptist preachers in the South weren't exactly raking in Jimmy Swaggart bling 60 years ago, so feeding others on top of a family of eight was nothing to sneeze at. "You never know when you might be entertaining angels," he was fond of saying.
My grandfather, although a preacher, wasn't doing anything most of his neighbors wouldn't have done. It wasn't being a preacher. It was being a decent human being in a different time, with different cultural expectations and rules. If you don't believe me, go watch that new Kit Kittridge movie! But if he caught one of those people trying to steal from him -- or, I suspect, from the neighbors -- I also suspect my grandfather would have shot them. Angels in disguise wouldn't steal or abuse their hospitality.
So now, we shut our doors. We don't know our neighbors. We donate to charities better than any other country, but we don't see if someone across the street needs help. Or better, we watch them squirm in their odd lives and talk about them at dinner with the other neighbors.
The Good Samaritan is a nice fairy tale and all, but the world's just too dangerous to open your home, your car, your illusion of safety. Better to write a check to Red Cross and help the poor bastards that way.
"BB Gun" is from Roger Alan Wade's first album -- yes, he has two -- All Likkered Up. He performed this song many times at Bud's in Chattanooga. "Pistol Grip" is from the Blakes' first full-length album. Both are available on both iTunes and Amazon.com's mp3 site.