On the 4th of July I saw in America something I had only ever expected to see in Somalia, Pakistan, Afganistan, Syria, Iraq, or other countries in a state of failure. I wasn’t sure at first if it was a group of ISIS fighters, Taliban or Al Shabab. But I guess in America we can now expect to see cars bristling with armed militia. We can now see them standing on our streets. Guns pointed every which way with little thought. Or pointed at those with whom they disagree. Intimidation or freedom - the folks I saw did not seem like a “well regulated militia” in any sense I could understand.

Wearing a mask, intended to protect the rights of others, is now considered a symbol of oppression. Arming oneself and parading those weapons of destruction is instead freedom, or oppression, depending on which end of the barrel you stand. We forget that the independence of our nation was won more on the battleground of ideals, of words, thought and action then the battles which were fought.

I will continue to wear a mask out of respect and safety for others, in the same vein I will keep my guns locked up. But my hopes for our country are dying. I never expected to see widespread violence in our country in my lifetime but now - we are embracing death over life.

Allen O'Bannon