Taking up arms

The younger of my two older brothers and I have always looked alike enough to be twins. Same height, same dark hair and dark, deep set eyes. We look less and less alike as we get older, mostly because I get heavier and paler and he, reborn as a surfer dude in his middle years, is slim and tanned. But the eyes, the hair, those are still very much alike. We are even going grey in a similar pattern.

In some ways, we are on the same wavelength mentally. In most other ways, though, we are almost polar opposites. Understandably, I think, given that our birthdays are exactly opposite one another in the calendar. (A quirk of the zodiac means we aren’t opposite signs, though.)

As a young man, my brother was overwhelmingly concerned about people trying to hurt or kill him. I don’t know if that was a built-in natural tendency or a direct result of what he read and watched. He read Soldier of Fortune magazine regularly, trained in judo, ordered knives and other weapons from the US. He learned to shoot (guns and bows) and prepared mentally for a nebulous future disaster that he intended to survive. At one point, he even seriously considered joining the French Foreign Legion. It wasn’t a mindset that I could or can entirely understand.  It wasn’t all about him, though. In saving himself from this looming disaster, he also wanted to save and defend those near and dear to him. Would kill to save them — us — with whatever weapons he had available. I still wonder sometimes what brought him to that dark place where the only future he could envision was terrible and violent. What happened to him — in this world or in a previous life perhaps — to make life all about defense.

Whenever I would visit him, he would usually grill me about my beliefs. At the time, my spare moments were spent in spiritual exploration, in learning about tarot and astrology and other tools. I don’t know if the iterrogation was meant to expose the flaws he felt must exist in my beliefs in order to bring me around to his way of thinking or if it was a subconscious attempt to find a firm foundation in them that he could build on himself. All I know is that he puzzled me. This was a man who believed wholeheartedly that Hell was real, but Heaven was not, and as a result he was so afraid of dying that he would fight tooth and nail to live, sacrifice whoever he had to to do it. And he couldn’t understand that anyone, least of all his sister, wouldn’t feel the same. (I think he’s mellowed some as he’s gotten older and had children, but does that scared boy still exist somewhere?)

I thought of him the other day as I was reading a post on someone’s blog about guns and the right to bear arms. (I can’t remember whose blog it was — I’m sorry — or I’d link to it.) I’m not pro-gun but neither am I anti-gun. My brother, on the other hand, thinks everyone should learn how to defend themselves with a gun. I can’t make him understand that I don’t want to. It’s not that I don’t think I could shoot someone — it’s that I strongly suspect that, in a fearful, panic-stricken moment, I could and I don’t ever want to put myself in the situation where I have to make that choice. It’s a karmic debt I don’t want to take on if I can avoid it — saving the body but wounding the soul.