“The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.” – Tom Clancy
Writers are no doubt familiar with Tom Clancy’s statement, a concept that places a substantial burden on the scribe for logic, plausible cause and effect, or very simply authenticity. The quote adorns the wallpaper of my lap top, as a reminder of this essential truth.
Does it work in reverse?
If fiction must make sense, does that mean reality is devoid of logic, imbued with implausible cause and effect, and encumbered by complicated authenticity? Not necessarily. There is some logic to the world- though I am hard pressed to find it. Otherwise, the Cubs would have one at least one World Series, right?
I pose this question because, as one writer friend pointed out, we write to make sense of this world. Juxtaposed with Clancy, however, making sense of the world presents a conundrum. Why would we attempt to make sense of a world that makes no sense? For example, I suspect the Pope is glad he isn’t governed by the NCAA.
This past weekend, the tragic event in Aurora, Colorado, highlights again the need for better gun control. Yet it does not happen; nor will it, I suspect. There have been any number of similar events over the past ten years alone that demand stricter gun control. Despite these tragic public massacres the gun control movement is unable to muster energy. Congress will not act. Why an average American Joe needs an automatic assault weapon is beyond me.
News coverage in the days after the Aurora incident tells us that support for gun control has eroded. The issue is largely ignored by politicians. There is no general support for gun control.
A reader comment in a major newspaper, and echoed on a major cable news network, suggested and I paraphrase “If only one person had a concealed weapon, many lives would have been saved.” This does not square with any notion of reality I possess.
There are more than 800 gun stores in Nevada that sell bulk quantities of guns for resale, including assault weapons – the automatic variety. Anyone can buy bulk quantities of ammunition on-line. We may have the Constitutional right to bear arms, but does that imply we have the right to an arsenal? An ammunition dump?
The notorious NRA quote of years past comes to mind: “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. The columnist David Brooks wrote recently of the historical context of these mass slayings suggesting that the problem is one of psychology not sociology, ergo leave the guns alone. The ergo is mine; he did not specifically suggest tighter gun control.
To be fair, we never hear calls for the decrease of air travel following a crash of major proportions. Of course, the cause of most crashes fall into one of the categories of pilot error, malfunction, or weather. These crashes are not the wanton destruction for the sake of wanton destruction. A terrorist bombing of a plane is different, but here again, there are no cries for the banning of bombs!
Try as I might to see the other side of this gun argument, I can see no logical reason for one person to have an arsenal of automatic weapons, and a munition store sufficient to wage a small war.
But then, this is not fiction; this is reality.
Making sense of the world
I must admit a penchant for being too literal, as if I could find some reason for why the world is what it is. A shift of a few degrees is perhaps enlightening. Make sense of the world may not refer to understanding the world, but rather making some sense of how the world should be – a life well-lived. The writer creates these paracosms with the ultimate purpose of explaining how life should be lived.
Perhaps the real question to be asked is “What profound fear drives the acquisition of high-powered automatic weapons in quantities?