The Narrative of Gun Control

“. . . an idea can still change the world.”

—Evey, V for Vendetta

The United States was formed as a shining beacon of the Enlightenment. It was formed on the principle that reason could be used to run a nation. Each group would have its voice and no one group would have total dominion over another. The only flaw with this goal is that reason is influenced by perception. Sure, during the Enlightenment it was believed that people would come to their beliefs by using logic and reason, setting aside perception for higher thinking. But we no longer live in the Enlightenment. We live in a post-modern world (or by some accounts, a post-post-modern world). And while we still prize reason and logic, we are swayed far more often by narrative.

Narrative tells us who we are. It tells us what to value and who to trust. It will sometimes offer statistics or studies, but we often come to the narrative first then find evidence to support it. And why not, since it is easier to know what to look for once we have decided on how to perceive.

After grieving over the divisiveness in our nation, a divisiveness that seems to prevent people from talking to one another about politics, after watching a horrible election and living through a year with multiple mass shootings, I have come to the conclusion that we do not argue facts; we argue narratives. The Right has a narrative of individual freedom and fiscal conservatism, of protecting the interests of the wealthy so that jobs will trickle down to the middle and lower class, of self-empowerment through drive, ambition, and motivation. The Left has a narrative of social justice, of looking out for the interests of the downtrodden, of ensuring equality for all groups. That is, ultimately, what political issues are: narratives expressing group ideals.

And after watching arguments on Facebook and reading articles online in the wake of the election and the Newtown shooting, it seems that we use narratives to rally our personal beliefs and reason to try to convince others. But the problem is that reason, in the face of narrative, will often lose. It doesn’t matter how many statistics are cited about mass shootings, the narrative of fear and protection is stronger. The narrative of gun control is that we need guns to protect ourselves from rampant crime. We need guns to protect ourselves in case the government attempts to oppress us. We need guns because the Founding Fathers say we can have them. We need guns because armed citizens can stop mass shootings. It doesn’t matter that serious doubt can be thrown on each and every one of these beliefs. As long as people believe the narrative, statistics and studies probably will not work. The narrative is more powerful because it humanizes the issue. It frames the argument in terms of our family, our friends, our children, not in the terms of numbers or percentages. In my editing classes, we were taught to always talk about people, not about things. Readers like reading about people, and narratives specialize in people.

As tragic as it is, a school shooting makes a compelling narrative. Our media will cover the event for days. But what our media does is attempt to portray the event in as objective way as possible. Then pundits come in to weave a narrative around the event. Faces of victims become what we could protect with a gun. Faces of victims become who we could save by stronger gun control. The same event is interpreted in two different ways depending on the narrative of the pundit, depending on the narrative of the viewer. And after a few days of vicious, heated arguments, we end up back where we started: two sides mad at each other, convinced the other side is wrong, and no change.

Stricter gun control would probably make a difference. (What real purpose does an assault rifle play in civilian hands?) But it is an incomplete solution. In order to institute real change, we have to create a better narrative. If we believe everyone is only one bullet away from being a victim; if we believe we are only one gun away from the government oppressing us; if we believe that an armed citizenry will stamp out crime; if we believe that the only way to feel control over our lives is to have a gun; then nothing will change.

Ultimately, we need to decide what narrative we really want to tell: one of fear or one of hope. Are mass shootings just the consequence of the status quo, or are we willing to ask the truly hard questions about guns, violence, and the American culture? What kind of narrative do we want to tell?

Hiatus

I have been working on The Edwardian Adventurer since October of 2010. It has occasionally been fun, occasionally grueling, and occasionally tedious. Any attempt at discipline usually is. And this was the primary purpose of The Edwardian Adventurer: discipline. I desperately needed to develop a habit of writing. My first major in college was Creative Writing. It is rather useless to have such a major if all I concern myself with is getting by because I will never work toward my art. I have spent years procrastinating because of fear, laziness, and comfort. I have worked many jobs I don’t like for one reason only: money. I have had very little passion for most of my jobs.

So, in 2010, inspired by a friend, I resolved to change. If I was serious about writing, I would need to work toward write every day. And since I loved Doctor Who, I started this blog. I would watch one episode a day, six days a week, and I would write about what I watched. I started at the beginning with An Unearthly Child.

The more I wrote, the more I felt driven to write, both on the blog and outside of it. I was eventually inspired to return to school and pursue a degree in Technical Writing. This made keeping up with the blog harder and I made some changes to the frequency of posts. I also started reviewing stories rather than episodes.

This brings us to August 2012. I’m not sure I can do this anymore. I’m doing more writing than ever before, but much of it is not related to The Edwardian Adventurer. I’m working on a novel. I’m brainstorming a book with a local businessman. I’m trying to read through the works of Stephen King (reading is actually feeding my desire to write in a way that watching Doctor Who never has). I have classes starting in less than a month. Bottom line: writing about Doctor Who has started to hinder my work in other areas. I don’t have statistics, but I have written 315 posts. Assuming 350 words per post (which I am sure is a low estimate), I have written over 110,000 words. That is the equivalent TWO novels.

Here’s a guy on a horse. Perhaps this is a metaphor for moving away into the wilderness toward that mountain over yonder. Or perhaps it is just a guy on a horse.

A video of a commencement speech has been making the rounds on YouTube. It is a speech by Neil Gaiman in which he talks about knowing what your mountain is. His mountain was being paid to write–being an author of fiction. Truth be told, my mountain has been the same since I was ten. So, while I still enjoy Doctor Who, it isn’t paying the bills and it is no longer moving me toward my mountain. At one point, it was moving me toward the mountain. When I wasn’t writing every day, I needed The Edwardian Adventurer to get me back on the right path. Unfortunately, we are no longer moving in that direction.

All this means a type of hiatus. I’m most-likely still going to try to work my way through televised Doctor Who, I just probably won’t write about it any longer. I won’t be abandoning the blog entirely, but until I have a way to use the blog in such a way as to take me toward the mountain, I probably won’t be updating much. I have some ideas, but it may take a while to make those happen. Subscribe if you want to keep an eye on the site. And, if you want to keep up with my writing—say, if actually enjoy my writing regardless of whether I write about Doctor Who or not—you can follow King Reads King, my blog dedicated to reading Stephen King novels.

Thanks for reading. I’ve had some great comments; I’ve found some great blogs to follow, even if I haven’t been able to keep up with commenting on them. Thanks for walking this path with me.

–S.W. King

One Year?!?

It has been one year.

I feel on some level that I should congratulate myself as today marks the one year anniversary of starting The Edwardian Adventurer blog.  When I started this blog, I had two goals.  The first was to provide a venue for developing the discipline of writing.  I hoped this blog would give me the motivation to post regularly (six times a week in the beginning).  The second goal was to make my way through Doctor Who in broadcast order.  This second goal aided the first by giving me regular content.  One year later, I am in the middle of The Ice Warriors.  I am still watching Doctor Who and writing thoughts each day, but I now wait until the end of the serial before posting.  Thus, I only do about two or three posts a week.  And now that Cymru Who series six has finished, I am in need of a regular Monday post.  I’m thinking about resuming my journey through LOST, as I feel I have been neglecting it.

But today is a day to try to feel proud of myself (in the midst of all the other deadlines which loom over me).  In the previous year I have written over 160,000 words.  I have done more writing in this year than any other year, so I think I’m doing quite well on the first goal.  So, what should we expect in the next year?  I hope to continue my journey through Doctor Who, hoping to get well into the Pertwee era in 2012.  Mondays will be set aside for LOSTDoctor Who will continue to update on Tuesdays or Thursdays (possibly both).  It is also my desire to turn my attention to writing fiction, and I may post stories or comics here.  Possibly the most exciting news to have come about in the last year is the opportunity to collaborate on a book.  It isn’t related to the scope of this blog, but it is exciting nonetheless.  So, if I don’t appear here as often as usual, hopefully it is because I’m working on the book.

I hope you have had a good time visiting The Edwardian Adventurer.  If you have suggestions for the upcoming year, let me know.  Feedback is always welcome.

And in case anyone is curious, here are the five most-visited posts from the last year.

1.  The Scarlet Pimpernel

2.  Farewell Great Macedon

3.  The World Shapers: A Comic by Grant Morrison

4.  The Impossible Astronaut

5.  The Time of Angels

Paradigm Shift

You may have noticed that I haven’t updated in a while.  Yeah, sorry.  I can’t stand not updating every weekday.

The good news is that The Gunfighters comes out soon.  The bad news is that I’m not finding as much free time in my schedule to read at a brisk pace.  How sad is life when a guy can’t get through a TARGET novelization in less than a week?  But, sparing you the details of my work situation, I’m going to institute a new policy.

For about six years I was a fan of LOST.  I enjoyed discussing it with my wife.  I shared it with friends.  I defended it against detractors.  In the end, while I enjoyed nearly every moment of my six year journey with the show, I felt the ending wasn’t a good payoff.  There were many questions still left unanswered, and while I don’t believe every question needs to be answered, I felt essential ones were not.  But I also couldn’t shake that perhaps the answers were planted along the way, but we had missed them.  Thus, I want to wade through every episode of LOST and develop a second, hopefully more positive, opinion.  Initially I had started this as a separate blog called The Long Con, but I have now decided to merge the two.  So, I will start republishing early entries here tomorrow.  There will be a shift in format after the first few entries because I realized  that I had stifled myself by using this format.  I was trying too hard to imitate Tat Wood and Lawrence Miles’ About Time books, only adapting the format for LOST.  Sometimes formats are a good thing, such as with poetry or fiction, but this is a review/analysis blog and I just don’t want to do the little bits of trivia any more.  I want to focus primarily on analysis.  Thus, I hope to continue under this new paradigm.  However, there is one major rule that I must follow.  Doctor Who is the priority.  I have 32 seasons to review, and I need to remain steady and disciplined, not distracted.  Since every episode has not yet been released on DVD, I will resume reviewing LOST as I come to these gaps in Doctor Who.

With this new scope for The Edwardian Adventurer, I hope to bring in other contributors to focus on genre fiction and shows.  Doctor Who is my main priority, and LOST in the interim, but I hope to post further topics along the way, either by myself or others.  If you want to contribute reviews or essays, just get in touch with me and we will talk.  Again, I want to focus on science fiction, fantasy, horror, and even mystery.  Books, television, movies, and comics are all fair game.

So, I hope fans of Doctor Who and LOST will be eager to keep reading.  If you have been curious about LOST, then watch and read along (although take it as a given that there WILL be spoilers).  And if you are not interested in LOST, then I hope to see you again shortly after The Gunfighters is released on DVD in North America.

Billy will be back. I promise.

A Word on The Upcoming Year

I have grand ideas, but I can never leave them alone. I must tweak them.  When I began this blog, it had two functions:  to propell me to write regularly and to review every episode of Doctor Who.  To accomplish this, I had to find a good supply of Doctor Who.  Thankfully, I have a few DVDs, books, and CDs, but when I decided to watch the show in broadcast order, I had to admit that my collection has quite a few gaps.  Since I wish to pursue this goal legally, this means that any episodes I watch which I do not own must be purchased or checked out of the library.  This is a long way of saying that when I reach a gap, I may have to wait until I get access to the next episode.  But I wish to keep updating six days a week.

I have some plans to remedy this.  First, I still have books and CDs.  I have already done a few “intermissions”, and will continue to do so.  I had originally intended these intermissions to be related to a recently-reviewed episode, but this idea may soon be scrapped.  I’ll try, however, to stay in the same era when possible.  Second, I see Doctor Who as belonging to the same tradition as comic books and old time radio.  All three deal with larger-than-life heroes, all three deal are told in serials.  I may draw more parallels in a future post.  As such, I have decided to extend my content mandate to The Edwardian Adventurer (The Doctor) and Other Mystery Men, Mystery Men being the old name for vigilante crime fighters or superheroes.  This will allow me to cover other entertainment media that interests me while still maintain my desired update rate.  It may also enable us to see the parallels in this type of story-telling and how it has evolved over the decades.  Storytelling methods fascinate me.

I still have a lot of Doctor Who between now and when I run out of episodes (I think I have things through The Crusade).  If I get The Space Museaum/The Chase for Christmas, I’ll have even more material.  But, when that runs out, we will enter new and uncertain territory.  It will be an adventure!