War games

It’s dark outside and I am at home with a tree of twinkly colored lights, listening to early Christmas music and steaming tamales.  It’s such a comfortable homey smell, the masa and beans. We’re all in need of a little comfort these days, and it was a particularly uncomfortable day for me, after a session of physical therapy that got my back flared up and my mind perturbed.  It was one of those days I was glad there was no alcohol in the house–getting out of myself was high on my list, it would’ve been a tempting road.

I listened to the President’s talk in Newtown last night, people sobbing in the background, their lives changed forever. What terrible desolation they must feel. There seems some hope the President will pursue a ban on the semi-automatic weapons that any sane society would have outlawed long ago. It would be something. But changing the climate of violence is a much more daunting task.

My grandson has a Nerf gun with a clip that holds  rubber-tipped darts.  He slams the clip in, pulls back some part that cocks it, and bam bam bam shoots four darts without stopping. They stick to walls and ceilings, slowly falling to the floor. Sometimes he incorporates the Nerf gun into a fantasy involving Halo characters.  Halo is a series of video games based on interstellar war between humans and the Covenant, a theocratic alliance of aliens. I’ve seen the game. It’s frighteningly well done–compelling, suspenseful, engaging, violent, murderous, with spin-off music, books, comics, films and anime. Microsoft has made a pile from it.  My grandson and his dad are both completely hooked.

In content, it’s really not so different from a lot of the comic books we used to read.  It’s just that the animation is so realistic, and you actually participate–become a character, choose your uniform, your weapons, your vehicle; shoot at your enemy with advanced weapons; stalk him, corner him, kill him.  It seems very creepy from where I sit, yet haven’t kids always played war games?  Is this different because it entices you into a whole fantasy world in ways that weren’t possible with homemade wooden rifles and army hats?  Are there places where kids don’t grow up playing war games? Where that would be in this troubled world, I can’t imagine.

According to Fox News, since the Newtown massacre, assault weapons are selling like hotcakes:

The prospect of a renewed assault weapons ban in the wake of the Connecticut school massacre has set off a round of buying, as thousands of Americans head to their local gun store to secure the popular AR-15 — the model used by the school gunman — before potential government prohibitions on their purchase….The AR-15 is the civilian version of the military’s M-16 and M-4….Despite often being called a fringe gun by critics, the AR-15 is the most popular gun sold in the US today, according to gun dealers.  (“Gun sales surge after Connecticut massacre,” Dec. 18, 2012)

People say they’re buying them for target practice or hunting or personal protection, but…really?  Semi-automatic weapons?  To me, it still looks like war games, but a lot of the people who actually went to war didn’t think it was a game.

With your drums and guns and drums and guns
The enemy nearly slew ye
Oh my darling dear, ye look so queer
Johnny I hardly knew ye.




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