Justice in the Time of Terror

On my drive into work recently I found myself behind a Ford pickup truck and noticed its bumper sticker: “When the going gets tough, I get a machine gun.” Not a doctor. Not a counselor or mediator. Not a shelter for cover. Not the wisdom of a favored advisor or a proven friend. But a machine gun. How odd, I thought, to prefer a weapon incapable of identifying with any precision, any careful thought, where the enemy of the wielder of it might actually be hidden. A weapon as apt to injure non-targets as targets. A weapon mindless of its unintended consequences, and one that exhibits no inkling that such acts of aggression, whether capable of justification or not, are more likely to be met with hatred and more violence than concessions of desert and a laying down of arms. How odd, and yet how disturbingly familiar. I wondered about the thought processes that might have led the driver of the truck to place such a sentiment on his bumper for all the world to see. What emotion, what belief might lead a person to conclude that, out of all the options available, a machine gun was the right choice to deal with goings tough? And then I had it: Fear.