Photo by Kelly Bracken.
I had a dream the other night.
It wasn't one of those pleasant types where you wake up feeling refreshed and invigorated and ready to meet the day's challenges. Nor was it of the philosophical and prophetic MLK variety.
Nope, it was one of those numbers that leaves me with a residual headache the likes of which are usually reserved for those occasions when I make the mistake of contemplating what might be at the outer edges of the cosmos or speculating as to the source of the Kardashian's popularity.
In this particular phantasmagoric miasma rife with symbolism, I found myself at a retreat with a group of former Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department co-workers. Most of us were getting along fine and having a good time (thereby confirming my altered state of consciousness).
Among our party was a young man who'd always impressed me as inordinately adherent to the letter of the law. No matter how arcane the statute, no matter how dated its source or how impeachable the logic precipitating it, the law was the law and to be enforced to the "T." If he worked in one of those small towns that prohibits the exhibition of elephants in a city park on the Sabbath, you could bet that he'd somehow find a way to be booking a pachyderm into evidence Sunday night. What manner of chaos he must have endured in his formative years so as to saddle him with such an anal-retentive mindset and render him such a stickler for protocol is a mystery, but it must have been as tragic as it was substantial.
In any event, all of us in attendance at the retreat had our personal belongings packed in boxes and somehow he'd investigated mine to find a firearm, which he immediately tried to seize. Like the Nazis and TSA agents, his mindset lent itself to interpreting items marked "Private Property" as probable cause.
"This is illegal!!"
I was in no position to say whether or not it was or wasn't. I didn't remember packing the weaponry in question…and it looked suspiciously like one of the kid's Nerf guns to me. But I also knew that he didn't know what the hell the damn thing was, either–only that he wanted to do a gun-grab on it. He’d made an arbitrary decision to deprive me of my firearm without so much as an explanation. And so we wrestled for control of the box in a manner popularized in "War of the Gargantuas" and with much ensuing retreat mayhem. In the end, I succeeded in retaining the box and its contents (my dream; my win).
But sure as hell, a little while later the little shit was back and snooping around the box. This was hardly surprising as he'd always exhibited the peculiar zeal of the maritime martinet who delights in having people walk the plank, and I sensed that he was hell-bent on a similar mission with me. Alas, it sufficiently pissed me off enough that I woke up before the beginning of round two.
Sitting on the edge of the bed, I reflected on the dream and recognized many germinating influences. These included the story I'd recently written on the officers known as the Oathkeepers and their allegiance to the Bill of Rights. Then I thought of the DHS’s inexplicable purchases of massive ammo stockpiles. And I remembered the recurrent episodes of asinine arrests and academic suspensions for everything from possession of toy guns fashioned out of condiments to the wearing of NRA t-shirts to school that have been making the news as of late. All of this and more was bundled up in a nice little bow of slumber with the only missing being a cameo appearance by NRA spokesman Wayne LaPierre.
The more I wondered as to the dream's significance, the more I wondered about its myriad symbols, as well. The firearm itself. The Pandora's box it was encased in. The archetypal anal-retentive cop. Their confluences disturbed me enough to leave me with Excedrin headache number nine—indeed, it was off the pharmaceutical charts—as well as a deep source of resentment.
I wondered about the ongoing nightmares that occupy so many of my fellow Amercians’ waking hours. Would they live to see their legitimate demands for answers from the likes of Obama and Holder answered? And what of those silent on the sidelines? Will they prove themselves capable of interrupting their dreams of free iPhones and rousing themselves from their slumber? Or will they prove more apt to follow the example of those protagonists from Don Seigel's 1957 classic film "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" in which other entities take over their lives as they sleep.
The lack of a definitive answer offers a kind of solace, I suppose; certainly, it's better than being able to assert a categorical "no." But I'm in no position to talk to them. Maybe you can. God knows that we can talk to ourselves and one another. But rather than preaching to the choir, how about dialoging with those you come in contact with everyday—particularly those that, by choice or by circumstance, you would be less apt to speak to while off-duty?
I am heartened by the reflective dialogues I see herein and elsewhere. The voices of men and women inclined to ask difficult questions of themselves and one another. The lull over on the message board Police_L is conspicuously over, roused from its stupor by much of the foregoing concerns as well as concerns over whether or not Boston authorities overstepped their bounds in effectively shutting down the city and conducting a door-to-door search of households for the suspects. Don't shoot the messenger on that one. I'm merely passing on the info. In fact, I read a letter from one of the imposed upon citizens that was effusive in his praise for how the officers conducted themselves in his home.
But at the same time, I wonder to what extent others are asking themselves similar questions, not just as to how it relates to authorities' authorities, but their own.
Yeah, sleep's a dangerous thing.
Still, I need to take a nap.