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Kids play war - it's just a natural event in growing up.  Usually the simulation is in some totally safe form that hides everything that kids should know about the reality, and they just have a lot of fun without being made to think about anything: Video games, nerf guns, water balloons, etc.  Well, one time when I was playing war as a little kid (I don't remember exactly how old), we stepped it up a notch: Instead of nerf darts or dodge balls or something that's almost as fun to get hit with as to avoid, we started throwing rocks at each other while hiding behind walls, trees, and cement pillars.  The very first time I peeked my head out from behind a wall and something substantially whizzed right by head too fast to see, and I jerked the hell back afraid to look out again, I knew intuitively exactly what all the corny fake-war depictions I'd seen on TV were really about.  I was getting a taste of war - but I got that in real war that rock would have killed me, and a thousand more would have followed it, and turned the wall I'd hidden behind into swiss-cheese.  Suddenly I got it, and I was not having fun anymore.

The fact that I had a big pile of my own rocks sitting beside me that I could throw myself didn't change anything.  It didn't take away one iota of the danger of the rocks being thrown by the other team, but instead made me acutely aware that if I was to keep playing this game, I might end up contributing to the anxiety and fear of people who were my friends, or cause them nontrivial pain if they got hit.  It was a moment of clarity you don't find too often in children playing a war game, but it hit me: What we were doing was bad, and what's more, a mere facsimile of something far worse.  But that was just thoughts on war.

As it pertains to the weapons themselves, I'm reminded of the experience between we were all equally armed and protected, but I didn't feel the least bit more secure.  In some ways, I felt less secure - as if the ability to defend myself made me a target, and also impose onerous moral and ethical obligations I wouldn't necessarily be able to appreciate in the heat of the moment.  Basically, combat is a state of chaos, both within and within the mind of the person making decisions, and people who behave as if some magic takes places where being armed makes one automatically safe don't know wha
t they're talking about.

The only way out of that game, if it were - if there were a dozen guys hiding in holes and ditches and bind walls to throw rocks at interlopers - the only way to deal with that situation peacefully and constructively would be bilateral disarmement of all parties involved.    Dump the on the ground in an open area where everyone can see them, and then bury them.  I guess the core point is that arming yourself does not necessarily empower yourself - that is an illusion.  You are simply buying a share of chaos without the tools and means to mitigate chaos.  The man crouching behind a wall ducking enemy gunfire and periodically scrounging the nerve peek up and return fire does not feel safe or empowered, he's stuck in a chaotic shithole.  Guns are not the answers.  They do not make places safer.  Their only purpose is to be kept far away from people, and then brought in only as a contiency when chaos is preferable to specific atctivity - rare though such occurrences are.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I had the exact same experience in grade 3 (10+ / 0-)

    and was quickly disabused of the notion that war would be exciting too. Good observation.

    Listen to Netroots Radio or to our pods on Stitcher. "We are but temporary visitors on this planet. The microbes own this place" <- Me

    by yuriwho on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 07:06:43 PM PST

  •  I had a similar experience but enjoyed it (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, VClib

    I remember being at a summer camp walking up the side of a mountain with a friend when we were ambushed by some other kids who started throwing rocks downhill at us and hurling insults.   My friend and I ducked around a tree, grabbed some rocks, and started throwing them back at our attacking friends.  I made a plan and told my friend to keep them distracted, at which point I dropped a bit downhill so I could secretly go up and around to flank them.  At that point, I found some larger rocks which I started throwing at the other kids, who promptly surrendered.  Back at the camp, the two that started it were laughing about how I was throwing "boulders" at them.  In the moment, I didn't appreciate the ambush.  However, the lesson I learned was that sometimes escalation is a quick way to win a conflict.

    •  And sometimes escalation is a quick way to death . (3+ / 0-)

      "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

      by indycam on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 08:11:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Controlled escalation is not. (0+ / 0-)

        I probably wasn't too clear about how it all played out, but I don't know that anyone, myself included, put the actual lives of one another in danger.  We were probably at more risk of accidentally stepping on a rattle snake.

        •  In real life , not childhood games . (0+ / 0-)

          I once read long ago , people who say , go ahead and shoot me to a person holding a gun are much more likely to be shot than a person who says please don't .

          If you are driving along and see someone driving like an idiot and you decide to drive like an idiot also to teach them a lesson , the outcome isn't going to be "controlled".

          "Drop the name-calling." Meteor Blades 2/4/11

          by indycam on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 08:46:41 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Larger rocks? (3+ / 0-)

      So, basically you were not concerned with hurting others, right? It was about dominating them.

      I remember boys doing that when I was young, and immediately left because I knew that someone could get hurt, and I wanted no part of it.

      Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

      by splashy on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 10:25:18 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Two points (0+ / 0-)

        1) The other boys started by throwing rocks at us unprovoked.  As a result, we were hit with rocks and it did hurt.
        2)  The larger rocks I threw were too big for me to actually throw hard, so they were more likely to roll downhill toward them than to actually hit them.  In a sense, they were more of a warning than a thing where they would have actually been seriously hurt.

        •  Your "escalation" was dangerous and stupid. A rock (0+ / 0-)

          bounding down a hill picks up speed and, hitting a smaller rock, can bound into the air and crush anyone it hits.

          You're just lucky none of them did so. I doubt you would be so sanguine if one of those boulders had bounded into the air and smashed the skull of one of your friends.

          Consider yourself very, very lucky.

  •  Another insightful one (11+ / 0-)

    Good defensive firearms instructors recommend cell phones, running away, and not being there in the first place as all being preferable to a gunfight.

  •  Oh, but it's a sacred RIGHT to scare other people! (3+ / 0-)

    Don't you dare be talking about how rocks are dangerous and should be kept away from people because you're scared of them!!!

    /snark (Or paraphrasing the exact argument I heard Earlier tonight.  Take yer pic.)

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 08:01:53 PM PST

  •  It's unfortunate, but sometimes the people (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour, happymisanthropy, VClib

    throwing rocks at you:
    --  don't give a damn what you think, or why.
    --  don't care whether you're armed effectively or not.

    Maybe you can convince them not to hurt you anyway.

  •  and how, exactly (0+ / 0-)

    did you get rid of all the rocks?

    States' rights? Corporate rights? Militia rights? Government rights? Hell no! Only individuals have rights. Proud lifelong human supremacist.

    by happymisanthropy on Sun Dec 30, 2012 at 08:33:07 PM PST

  •  Democrats do not offer bilateral disarmament. (0+ / 0-)

    Last I heard, the government that you are in control of will keep possession of its own firearms through its agencies of the military and the police.

    If you think guns "are not the answer" then you've never been the one unarmed person in a world full of predators.

    •  I don't know many Democrats (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Buckeye54

      who are offering much of anything in terms of gun control at this point. The party has yet to put up an organized opposition to the free ownership of guns by any dumbass who wants one.

      And guns, by themselves, aren't really the answer to anything. Guns along with the know-how to properly handle, maintain, use them AND use them in a fight may sometimes be the answer to a very rare and narrow set of circumstances. But in too many cases they are only the answer to the question, "What's a device with no beneficial purpose that might hurt or kill me or someone I love, and might cause me to engage in conflicts I'd otherwise choose to avoid?"

    •  There is not and never has been (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oldpotsmuggler

      "a world full of predators."  That is a paranoid fantasy on the part of insecure, neurotic minds who can't handle living among other human beings no matter what the circumstances.

      In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

      by Troubadour on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 05:59:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's bullsh!t, NoMoreNicksLeft. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oldpotsmuggler

      I have been the "one unarmed person in a world full of predators" and it's confirmed by belief that guns are not only not the answer, that they are a large part of the problem.
      I lived in the Combat Zone in Boston in the 70s then in Hollywood in the 80s. I've been face to face with guns several times and if I'd had a gun of my own, I would 1) never have had time to get it out of my pocket in those situations and 2) be dead.
      This is a bogus, macho posture argument to disguise the lack of actual cojones of the person speaking it.

      If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

      by CwV on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 06:41:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My friends and I had the rock throwing experience (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    as well.  At first it was accidental. We would build forts in this great hilly area bordering the woods that had cool rock formations that we gave names to, a wild abandoned apple Orchard, etc..

    Among our weapons were mud balls.  Our version of the paintball (I was born in 1960).  We we would roll mud-balls by a small stream and let them dry in the sun. When you threw them and you hit your opponent they typically disintegrated but left a visible dirt mark and puff of dust.
    Occasionally in the processing of making them, there would be rock or two in the in the mud. A hit to the head with one of these would leave you with the bugs bunny cartoon lump. A couple of guys started making them on purpose and one thing let to another.  However thanks to our stellar upbringing, and a bunch of lumps on our noggins, the collective realized that we were going to take out someones eye and we put a moratorium on the making the lethal variant of the mud bomb.

  •  "the ability to defend myself made me a target" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour
    ...the ability to defend myself made me a target, and also impose onerous moral and ethical obligations I wouldn't necessarily be able to appreciate in the heat of the moment.
    It seems that many folks do not understand those issues, neither the first part about turning oneself into a target, nor the second about the obligations that may cascade.

    Still, it's a reality, and I appreciate you highlighting that.

    Cheers, T...

    •  Most people are not good with feedback loops (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CwV, luckydog

      and don't understand that armament makes people afraid of you, thus more likely to target you in more ways, more often, and less likely to sympathize or defend you if something goes wrong.  Think about how people react when they hear a gang member got shot - they might think it's sad and shake their heads, but they might also think he had it coming.  Similar thoughts occur when some nutty militia gets hosed down by federal troops trying to resist some simple little warrant.  When someone does justifiably defend themselves, it's often ambiguous at best - people are suspicious of that person's real motives and the real circumstances of the incident.

      In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

      by Troubadour on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 06:04:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  live fire (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobinson, Troubadour

    I recently attended a party for a friend's son who had just graduated from basic training.

    I asked him what his most memorable experience was, and he responded that it was the live fire exercise.  They were given a starting location, and a light switched from red to green, and live bullets were fired over their heads.  They were required to crawl over and under obstacles, in the dark, through barb wire and other obstacles to get to their objective.

    I think that might definitely have been one of the moments when he "got it".

    •  In my far less dangerous case (0+ / 0-)

      hearing the projectiles whizzing by is the moment you understand that THIS SUCKS, and it not some fun time.

      In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

      by Troubadour on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 06:05:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Mickey Rourke on Inside the Actors Studio (0+ / 0-)

      had described a time before he became an actor when he was a drug dealer and had gotten into a gun fact with a guy who had an automatic.  Now, Mickey Rourke is a big tough guy who's used to kicking ass in boxing, but he describes how his hand was shaking and I felt like he wanted to piss himself the whole time.  That's a gunfight.

      In Roviet Union, money spends YOU.

      by Troubadour on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 06:08:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is why I got my kid an airsoft gun for xmas (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Troubadour

    All the kids in the neighborhood have these airsoft guns. For those who don't know, airsoft guns are basically BB guns that shoot plastic BBs that are larger and travel slower (and thus have less kinetic force) than normal BB guns. If a kid gets hit with an airsoft pellet, it sucks but it doesn't end their day of fun with friends. Eye or even face protection is an absolute must.

    If my kid plays first-person-shooter video games, he might get the idea that military fire fights are easy and thus might want to join the military because he is invincible. The airsoft gun play with his friends is to teach him that he will get his ass shot off if he uses his video game experiences as training.

    The kid must play war. It's who he is. I just want him to know that if he continues it to the military in adulthood, it ain't easy.

    And you know what, airsoft firefights aren't a trade for the real experience. Grenades, mortar rounds, artillery, mines, long range snipers, booby traps, and many other things cannot be simulated in the neighborhood. Crap.


    i just baptized andrew breitbart into the church of islam, planned parenthood, the girl scouts and three teachers unions. - @blainecapatch

    by bobinson on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 01:51:16 AM PST

    •  I didn't buy airsoft for a number of reasons (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Troubadour, Apost8

      My kid has been shooting the 22 since he was 5. The golden rule is never point it at a human being. He can make lego guns all he wants, things that actually shoot a projectile we treat as guns.

      They leave little plastic pellets all over which eventually get washed into storm drains, down rivers and streams and out into the sea to float in huge plastic islands of garbage  or clog up the gills of filter feeding fish.

      Toys and guns are different and I don't like to blur the differences.

      How big is your personal carbon footprint?

      by ban nock on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 05:14:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Airsoft pellets, unlike actual bullets (0+ / 0-)

        are biodegradable.

        If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

        by CwV on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 06:44:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Actually very few are, you have to buy special (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bobinson

          biodegradable airsoft pellets. Real amo is made from lead, steel, and copper, all naturally occurring materials.

          How big is your personal carbon footprint?

          by ban nock on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 06:56:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  And lead, used even for "sporting purposes" can (0+ / 0-)

            still cause lead poisoning.

            Remember when every shotgun used shells still shooting lead pellets? I have to hope that I would have gone a different route if I had been smart enough to have a solid understanding.

            There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

            by oldpotsmuggler on Mon Dec 31, 2012 at 07:12:49 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

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