Thank you, Erik, for taking the time to write such a thorough reply to my piece and for saying exactly what reasonable Americans have been saying for years.

So many people here have a cowboy mentality. Perhaps leftover from our Wild West days? Perhaps part of our staunch individualism? But, in this day and age, it’s asinine.

Part of it is a fear of government or anyone in power, but, as you say, who can physically fight the government? Their bombs will win any fight against the most powerful rifle. And, if you are so afraid of the government, why live here? Get out. Go somewhere you will feel safe. If our government wants to go completely rogue, we are doomed anyway. Someone’s arsenal of guns isn’t going to matter much. Surely, it is more reasonable to be educated and make intelligent decisions when voting to assure a reasonable and benevolent government. But, alas, intelligence and education are lacking in America these days.

My own ex-son-in-law refuses to pay child support for his children because he does not recognize the jurisdiction of the courts, a judge, or anyone in the government to tell him what to do. He chooses not to see his children rather than abide by a court-mandated visitation schedule. He sees himself as outside the law. Unfortunately, his attitude is not that uncommon.

I also believe that a big part of the “fear” driving the ownership of guns is racial and cultural in nature. The animosity and lack of trust between races, cultures, and religions has become a serious problem, and I am not necessarily referencing terrorism — this disunity was a problem long before terrorism was. Perhaps, and probably, it has always been this way but the whites are no longer 100% in control as they once were and feel threatened. I am white. I don’t care who is in power as long as they are good people who are trying to improve society and keep peace in the world. But, others are not like me. Our own police shoot black people for no acceptable reason and get away with it! Juries seem incapable of convicting a police officer for killing a black person, no matter how strong the evidence showing that the police officer was wrong, derelict in his duty, and behaving like a criminal himself.

Healthcare here is a disaster. Obama’s healthcare plan helps but only marginally. It is not the plan he wanted, not the one he authored but the only one he could get passed by the Republicans. The original plan was decent; the substitute plan is helpful but far from good. Now, Trump and the Republicans are dismantling it one piece at a time. Soon it will be gone. The plan they have written to replace it is a joke and written only to appease the people who desperately need health coverage.

I won’t go into all the problems with the Republican’s plan but you can read about them here:

Mental health care here is a convoluted maze of services with no central agency managing them. A person needing care has to research and run from place to place trying to find help, and then usually pay for all or part of the services provided. I live in a city of 140,000 people. We have two very large hospitals and a medical school that is part of the university here. Yet, when my friend’s mother-in-law moved here and tried to find mental health care for elder depression, like the care she received in another state, there was only one doctor here who treated elder depression and she was booked up for 10 months! Finding psychologists and psychiatrists to treat severe mental illnesses is nearly impossible.

Another friend’s son has been diagnosed with 4 severe mental illnesses. She is a well-educated, computer-literate person and she struggled to cobble together healthcare and social services to help him. Although she is only middle-class, she has paid out-of-pocket for most his care because so little was covered by insurance and so few services were available to help him. Her son has one more year to be covered by her health insurance then he will be one his own, depending on Medicaid for his health needs, and Trump and the Republicans are hell-bent on dismantling Medicaid or making it a shell of what it once was. He will be left with almost no resources.

Another issue here is federal versus state government. Our founding fathers supported a government system in which each state acted like a small country making nearly all decision on domestic issues and local policing with the federal government handling military and trade and other international interests. That system is long outdated. People are too mobile, often living in multiple states during their lifetimes. We need a homologous system that treats all Americans the same. Right now, most Northern states like New York and Massachusetts provide far more social services for their residents than do Southern states like my own state of Florida. The quality of life in the South is consistently many points lower than in the North because of the lack of services offered here.

In short, Erik, we are a mess. And getting worse. Having Trump as president has emboldened the racists, the anti-government freaks, the gun hoarders, and all the other fringe-dwellers. There is no doubt that there will be more and worse shootings and other such sick behaviors because we don’t provide the care needed and because we are a gun-crazy society.

I have no answers. I am living in a fog. Each day, with Trump as president and Republicans in control of Congress, reasonable Americans live in fear of the next disaster. Another shooting? A war with North Korea? Or, will we all die from curable illnesses for which we can’t afford or can’t receive care?

May I come live in The Netherlands? I hear it is a lovely place.

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I was always a writer but lived in a bookkeeper’s body before I found Medium and broke free — well, almost. Working to work less and write more.

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