In my youth, my dad attempted to teach me a number of lessons. Most of them didn’t stick — I still have no idea how to properly tie a fishing hook, for example.
One I do remember, however, was the one about “tools” vs. “weapons.” The truth is, most any tool, in the wrong hands, becomes a weapon, and the sad reality is that the people who fail to properly use the tool wind up ruining it for just about everybody else.
Steroids are pretty useful tools. Loads of people out there suffer from allergies to insects or food; steroids exist that can treat such reactions before they turn into emergencies.
On the other hand, steroid use, in the wrong hands, becomes a weapon. Athletes, and others, figured out long ago how to abuse steroids, reaping the perceived benefits of them without giving any thought to the consequences. Today, we all pay the price for that, in the form of endless scandal and innuendo.
The internet is a great tool. An entire generation of students are using the internet for everything from translated versions of “Canterbury Tales” to advanced math theories. Occasionally I ask questions like, “Where have I seen that guy from ‘Breaking Bad’ before?” … and thanks to the internet I can answer that question in roughly 30 seconds.
With each passing hour, though, it’s apparent the internet is as dangerous as it is valuable. One only needs to look at online ticket scams, the copious amounts of, um, inappropriate material, cyber-bullying … or the sad, sad case of Manti Te’o, who may or may not have been complicit in an elaborate scam involving a fake girlfriend. It doesn’t take long to do as much harm as good with access to the online world.
A gun, of course, is a pretty valuable tool.
(Yes, this is a predictable direction for this column. No, I’m not taking it back. Just roll with it.)
My entire life, I’ve known and been around people who owned guns — who take care of them, who keep them out of the wrong hands, who use them only for good and who teach their children to do the same. One of my favorite stories revolves around my old youth minister — him again — donating meat from a hunt to a local food bank, something he does every year.
It works for its protective qualities, too. In the pilot episode of “Lost” — my favorite TV show ever — the con man Sawyer saves a group of people from a charging polar bear with a handgun, explaining that he found the gun in the plane wreckage and kept it because he thought it might be useful. “And guess what?” he says. “I just shot a bear!”
Like all tools, though, a gun is dangerous in the wrong hands. Seems like there are more “wrong hands” these days than there used to be, too.