Joe, my three year old son, is into The Lone Ranger these days. We have some of the old shows on DVD, and lately that has replaced road construction videos as his number one entertainment choice.
I admit I've been watching the shows myself. Once I get past Clayton Moore's stiff delivery of his spoken lines and Tonto's TV-Indian English, the premise of the universal fight for truth and justice is, I think, much more appealing than the shows of today which are nothing more than blow'em up special effects. I find it interesting that the Lone Ranger shoots to wound, not to kill, because it is up to the law to decide whether a man lives or dies, not the man with the six gun. The Lone Ranger brings men to justice but does not play God. And he uses silver bullets, which brought up possibly the first metallurgic discussion Russ and I have ever had. Do the silver bullets, which presumably melt at a somewhat higher temperature than lead, cause less internal injury and therefore create less chance of death? The Lone Ranger's model of justice is not an "eye for an eye", but rather that the truth will prevail and guns and bullets are just tools in the process, tools to be used with respect and restraint. The Lone Ranger does not act for personal glory; the mask hides his face, and his identity, because who he is is less important than the service he is doing. And there is a fidelity between Tonto and Kemosabe, teaching that good works will be returned to us in some way.
Maybe in today's reality of school shootings and the seeming disrespect of the young perpetrators for human life, we need to return to the old values the Lone Ranger taught us.
The reality, brought home by the recent shootings at Red Lake and most recently, a lockdown at Vincent and Nina's school last Friday due to a rumor that some students might be bringing firearms to school, has had me considering my position on the role of guns and gunplay in childhood, particularly male childhood. The boys, inspired in part by the Lone Ranger, have been having gunfights all weekend. Saturday night, when we went for a ride in the pickup truck with me and the kids in back, Joe was shooting at everything he could with his toy gun.
I say, let them play. It has been shown that even in households where toy guns are forbidden and gunplay is reprimanded, boys will use anything and everything as guns, even forming a gun with the thumb and index finger. I even did that as a kid. Vincent even used Doofus the cat as a gun! I simply don't have the patience to go against nature.
The kids that grew up watching the Lone Ranger did not turn into school shooters. Instead many of them were shipped off to Vietnam and told to "shoot 'em all and let God sort them out." Our government, acting alone, is sanctioning the killing of thousands in Iraq, in the name of defending our selfish, consumptive, amoral lifestyle. In an atmosphere with no moral compass, where going out in a selfish blaze of glory and taking innocent lives in the process is an appealing idea to some teenage males, something is wrong. We need the Lone Ranger to seek out the truth and work for justice. We need to arm our children with silver bullets of wisdom and self-restraint.