The Land of The Free

“And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave / O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave”.  So ends the United States of America’s national anthem.

On Friday 14th December 2012 in Newtown Connecticut, a lone gunman, a 20 year old, probably deranged individual,  having first shot his own mother, entered a school and shot and killed 20 elementary school children (average age about 6 years), seven school employees, and then himself, with semi-automatic weapons which the NRA and the gun lobby in America fight tooth and nail to ensure are freely available to US citizens , even over the counter in a Walmart store.  Just how free are Americans? 

Our hearts go out to America and Americans in general and those in particular who lost their children in this and other similar incidents.  Something is not right in the home of the brave.

Far be it for anyone to tell that mighty nation how to run it’s affairs but we all would be foolish not to learn from their experiences.  Some of what we can take from this tragedy are:

  • that corporates and others should not be allowed to heedlessly pursue profit at tragic cost to the nation they operate in,
  • that corporates and others should not be allowed undue access to nor be allowed to exert undue influence on, the political systems they operate in 
  • that gun ownership is not a right but a privilege, given only to those adjudged worthy of it, 
  • that assault weapons, aka ‘weapons of war’,  are not included in that privilege.

South Africa is not without blemish.  We had Marikana, we have children entering our schools with weapons and extracting revenge for real or imagined wrongs.  We have little to be proud of other than our sporting achievements, and we really need to learn from both our own experiences and from the experiences of others.  The more tragic are those experiences the more urgent is our need to learn from them.

The Direct Democracy Forum are willing to learn from our own and others’ experiences.  We just wish we they were not so tragic.

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