Economics Politics

Attending a Gun Show and Having My Expectations Shattered

I attended a gun show as a vendor this weekend. I don’t own any guns so I wasn’t selling those – I was selling knives and fishing gear. I wasn’t really sure what to expect at the gun show – I’ve never been to one.

Here’s what I thought it would be: survivalists, right wing militiamen, gun nuts, NRA and MAGA hats, tin foil conspiracy theorists, and lots of Trump lovers. I thought there would be crazy people buying guns to kill with and no regulation of any sort.

Here’s what I found – essentially it was like a Star Trek Convention but with models of tanks instead of Klingon warbirds and with guns instead of space memorabilia. Instead of people dressing up like Kirk, Spock, and Khan – they were dressed as cowboys, G.I.s, and Japanese soldiers. There were cool displays on the history of firearms, historic gun displays, and plenty of educational material. There were plenty of police around, people were generally funny, friendly, and reasonable. I only saw four MAGA hats and a couple of NRA and Second Amendment shirts – far less than I would see at an antique show in Oregon –

But keep in mind – this is a gun show in Hawaii – so it’s going to be pretty different. I thought it would be torturous but I ended up having fun, eating hot dogs and drinking soda with some nice folks, and selling a bit more than I would have at the flea market. There were no big Trump displays, no conspiracy theorist booths, and I really didn’t see any survivalist or bunker mentality militia stuff happening.

Although – there was a guy there who looked just like Steve Bannon. Fighting Jesus

My top seller of the weekend were tiny gold crosses that have knives hidden in them on dogtag chains. People loved those things.

There were a few political discussions, but I tried to keep my views on the low-down so I could feel how people felt and in general – people at a gun show in Hawaii didn’t seem to be too keen on Trump, but at the same time they all seem to think that Antifa is a fascist group (for the record, it stands for Anti-Fascist) and that there is a deep state conspiracy that has kept Trump from doing all the good he promised them he would do.

So, that’s worrisome. Even though these were some very reasonable, multi-cultural and open minded fun loving costume wearing gun lovers – they still think the only way to save America is to rally behind the guy who stole the presidency.

I’m hopeful for humanity but I’m pretty sure America is completely fucked.


Reflections on Sept 11th 18-years later. Dominators and Cooperators

The problems in the world can be traced to one group of people – no, it’s not an ethnicity, religion, or nationality. It’s a mindset.

Dominators. Dominators are those who believe they should be able to force the world to do what they want. Not just single people but communities, states, nations, and even the whole planet. This mindset has created every problem we face in the world.

Terrorism – people who were dominated and learned the dominator behaviors. Terrorism is literally the act of attempting to force the world to do what you want with fear and intimidation.

Colonialism – people at a higher level of technology dominating people with a lower level of technology

Racism – the attempt of one group of people to assert dominance over another group based on skin color (same for nationalism but with nationality)

Global Warming – attempts to dominate nature with catastrophic results

And the list goes on and on – it’s September 11, 2019 – 18 years since the terrorist attacks. A child born that day becomes an adult today. Things have only gotten worse since that time. We’ve all lost. We’ve lost our freedom, liberty, privacy, time, money, and mental health. We’ve lost lives. We’ve lost democracy. We’ve lost our minds.

Buddhism tells us that fighting hatred or anger with hatred or anger is always a way to lose. We can’t all be good buddhists or christians and love our enemies – but there is a practical way to overcome these problems. It’s been there all along -waiting for us. Cooperation.

Cooperating with each other, cooperating with the planet, cooperating between nations, states, and individuals.

The problem, of course, stays the same. The dominators. The dominators have an unfair advantage. Here is how it works:

Cooperator + cooperator leads to cooperation – everyone wins

Dominator + dominator leads to domination – everyone loses except single entity that dominates the rest

Dominator + cooperator leads to domination – everyone loses except single entity that dominates the rest

Whenever a dominator (individual, society, company) encounters a cooperator (individual, society, company) the cooperator is faced with a choice – be dominated or become a dominator. This dilemma leads to a world that is increasingly ruled by dominator behavior and entities. It becomes increasingly hard to even think about cooperation.

Many have tried to overcome this Catch-22 and few (if any) have succeeded. If they have succeeded, they do so by existing outside the notice of the dominators. Secret societies of cooperators and esoteric sufis. And all it takes to destroy them is notice by a dominator and the will of that dominator to do what dominators all do – to dominate.

I believe there is a way out of this mess. I believe it is the way out of all of our messes. It’s a way that we don’t have the will or the fortitude to take because it will be messy and ugly. On that morning 18-years ago, we were presented with horror and tragedy but we were also presented with opportunity – an opportunity to not respond to domination with domination – but we failed. We created a hellish world of never ending war, violence, and domination on the political, economic, and personal levels.

What is the way out?

Cooperation. Those who are cooperators need to join hands, join forces, and join hearts. We need to clearly state what is acceptable in a cooperative world and what is not acceptable in a cooperative world. We need to make a declaration of independence from domination and dominator behavior. And then – the hard part that we must do or we will fail. When a person, a company, a country engages in dominator behavior they need to be totally and completely stripped of everything. Stripped of money, stripped of family, stripped of diplomatic status, stripped of resources, and on an extreme individual level – stripped of life. This is our only way out of the downward spiral we have become trapped in.

How do you recognize a dominator? Easy. They are in it for themselves and don’t care about the cost to others, the cost to the future, the cost to the planet, or the cost to humanity. Dominators must be destroyed or completely disempowered. We cannot out-dominate the dominators, we can only destroy or disempower them completely. It is the only way.