In the contemporary age, we are fortunate to have access to an extensive online source of knowledge and opinion, making it far easier in theory to cultivate behaviour and set a good example to younger members of society. However, when you consider the advancements that society has made in terms of technology and medical science, it appears as though any progression in social conduct and conditions has been painstakingly slow and ineffective by comparison. The question that rises from this is whether individuals within society are failing to learn from history or their contemporaries, or whether the right example is not being set in the first instance.
A good example of this quandary was witnessed in Utah this week, as they finally had a requested law passed to recognize a specific firearm as one of its state symbols. Utah governor Gary Herbert signed and authorized the bill which originated from a colleagues idea, and created a 25th symbol to represent the core principles of the region and its citizens. However, in an age where violent crime is rising and firearms are increasingly used in acts of aggression rather than those of self defence, it could be argued that its inclusion to represent a democratic state is entirely inappropriate.
Morality and the Example of Elders
If we have learned anything from studies of anti social or criminal behavior, then it should be that perpetrators of these types of conduct are often following an example that has been set to them, either by a parent or significant influence in their burgeoning childhood. This is often referred to as learned behavior, involves youngsters and adolescents following their elders and repeating the actions and words that they see being performed on an everyday basis. This not only dictates conduct, but also an individuals morality, values and ethical considerations.
With this in mind, and given the role of governors as prominent examples and leaders of men, it seems that the promotion of a firearm as a symbol of anything prosperous is both potentially dangerous and entirely inappropriate. Not only does it elevate a firearm from a simple tool to something that becomes part of a social fabric, but it could be considered to be an act that ultimately condones gun crime and misuse. This may seem extreme, but it is a necessary consideration when you understand that every action has a reaction and a potential consequence on individuals who witness it.
People and Not Guns as a Threat to Society
Of course, there is a reasonable argument that guns themselves are not implements of war or destruction, and are in fact merely tools that are operated by human beings for either productive use or misuse. This could be expanded further to suggest that firearms are in fact a symbol of freedom, and represent the option of choice and self defence to those who are threatened by criminal conduct. While there is both validity and truth within these assertions, they do little to assess the larger picture, and in particular the significance of guns within contemporary culture.
For example, while it is a statement of fact that firearms are harmless without the machinations of individuals, this does not mean that they should be ever be considered as an appropriate state symbol. It is an unfortunate fact of contemporary existence that guns are increasingly utilized in an aggressive rather than a defensive context, and this must be taken into consideration when assessing their role in everyday life. What the Utah governors have failed to recognize is this sizeable shift in social circumstance, and that firearms are no longer associated primarily with self defence and the protection of individual and national boundaries.
Changing Attitudes to Suit the Times
Here we come to the significant issue when it comes to assessing firearms, whereby too many people in influential positions have not adapted their attitudes to suit the times. While Utah officials clearly consider guns and weaponry as items that have played an integral part in the states formative and recent history, they have failed to comprehend the environment in which typical US citizens exist. In this environment, guns are considered as divisive and a threat to civil liberty, as also as crucial is setting a poor example to adolescent youngsters.
Increasingly violent video games and the liberal nature of film making mean that young individuals are often presented with an unrealistic and undeservedly flattering representation of firearms, which maybe used in different scenarios to gain wealth, power or sett le and particular conflict. Given that these scenarios often reflect gun use in a rather glamorous and idealized setting, modern media has served to completely modify the perception of guns and gun crime in the US, as well as change the core values that they seek to promote.
An Inappropriate State Symbol
With all things considered, it cannot be escaped that the use of a firearm as a state symbol is entirely inappropriate in the current social climate. This is not because guns by themselves are evil or inherently dangerous, but because the wider perception of their use has changed drastically over the last decade. They are no longer champions of freedom or self defence, but more likely wielded as tools of oppression and unbridled aggression, and so society can become vulnerable to individuals who misunderstand their purpose. This is no example to set to younger citizens, and it is something that the US must remain aware and vigilant of in order to protect its people.