HELTER SKELTER …

It’s one of the most interesting scenes from the documentary, Imagine.

John Lennon is being hounded by some guy at his gate who won’t leave and has been there for days, waiting to catch a glimpse of the icon. Finally, John actually goes to the gate to talk to the guy. The exchange that follows is telling and awkward and sad.

The guy has based his whole life on some code he believes he has deciphered in Beatles songs. So he asks John about the real meaning of Strawberry Fields, and is crestfallen to find out it’s only about a place from John’s childhood…nothing more. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds is only based on a drawn Julian had done for John. It’s not really about LSD or dropping acid. As John deconstructs song after song, you can visibly see the guy at the gate spinning out. All his tightly knit clues are coming unravelled. His most dearly held beliefs are being shattered by the very guy who created them in the first place. This guy’s whole life crumbles right before your eyes.

The Beatles were definitely saying something. And millions of people interpreted it different ways.

Years before this troubled young man had waited at John’s gate, another young man had invoked a Beatles song as the moniker for a very strange series of murders, in Los Angeles. His name was Charles Manson. And his convoluted idea to start a race war had the call sign, Helter Skelter.

Every thinking person knows that the Fab Four had (and have) nothing to do with murder or race wars or the Manson family. But Charles Manson believed they did. He saw it. And people died as a result.

Can Paul McCartney be charged with something Charles Manson assumed? No. That’s ridiculous. But what if it were a little more subtle? Could Paul be reasonably seen as an inciting catalyst? I don’t think so. But it does beg the question: if something you say or do inspires some sort of violence, how much responsibility to do you bear?

We’ve had yet more mass shootings in our country, this week. And the thing that has become almost as maddening and stressful as the shootings themselves, is the impending blame that will be slung in every direction.

Of course guns will be on trial, as they always are (and maybe as they should be). But more than that, we will all be waiting with baited breath to see if the gunmen were pro-Trump or anti-Trump. That will tell us how to plan the protests and which castles to storm.

Thoughts and prayers will be sent. And some will refuse to send thoughts and prayers because they’ve had enough and they want action, damnit! The Second Amendment will get dragged out …again …and parsed until it’s ragged …again. The online profiles of each shooter will be gone over with a fine tooth comb, and clues will be magnified by every media outlet in the world. And we’re all just hoping and praying the shooters didn’t support OUR candidate or subscribe to OUR ideas. Because then we will guilty by association.

No mercy will be granted and no quarter given. If a mass shooter happens to share a belief with one of us, we will, according to the other side,  forever have blood on our hands.

So, staring today in the news cycle, distance and spin will begin on all sides. Nobody wants to think that they somehow caused someone to shoot innocent people. It can’t be US …it HAS to be THEM who caused it.

In the meantime, young, white males keep grabbing rifles and opening them up on unsuspecting strangers…again and again. And why? Is it JUST because they have access to weapons? I have access to weapons, but nothing like this has ever crossed my mind. Almost everyone I know has access to weapons and I know beyond all doubt that none of the people I know would ever entertain the idea of killing innocent people.

Having been around firearms all of my life, I also know it’s a LOOOOONG way from firing a weapon, to turning it on a human being. It’s also a long way from being enraged by something and taking innocent life as your solution. Most people don’t kill people. But some do. And why?

If I were in charge of some entity that studies these things, I would begin the most exhaustive and comprehensive study of mass shooters the world has ever seen. I would study their parental relationships, their video game profiles, their dating profiles, their religious and political profiles.I would have a data base on how and when they were introduced to guns; when they shot their first gun; how “into” it they were, etc.

And I would do a maddeningly tedious profile of the medications they had all been on at one time or another. I have a hunch about the medications. And I would not be surprised to find out that our latest two shooters were on psycotropic drugs at one point in their lives.

Sometimes, there is no rhyme or reason to why someone kills people. And that is terrifying. I worked with a veteran once, who told me that he sometimes just wants to go out and start shooting people because he got so good at it during the war. It made my blood run a little cold. And knowing there are people like that out there, keeps my head on a constant swivel.

But we have young men cracking up around us, and I wonder why. We had them under the last president and the one before him and the one before him. And we don’t know what’s driving them until it’s too late.

We’re gong to want to blame some people for this past weekend. And our social media feeds are going to be hostile.

I, for one, want more information before I start joining in the noise.

See, the Beatles DID write Helter Skelter. But they also wrote All You Need Is Love. And maybe your becoming a murderer or a healer comes down to which song you choose to listen to.

R

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