Why am I telling you about this dream?
Don't worry, I am not asking anyone to care about my dreams. The point is that the dream reminded me of one of my most basic fears - guns. You see, to an extent the success of our lives (in the emotional sense) depends on living in denial of the dangers that surround us. Now I am anxiety-prone at the best of times, but the realisation that I will soon be living in a country where there is so much less to stop that nightmare scenario from happening is genuinely terrifying.
Living outside of your home country always means being a little less safe. Not only do you not have the support network that you would have back home, but you are, by default, less likely to pick up on cultural danger signs. Any Floridian or Australian can tell you that it is usually the tourists who get eaten or bitten by various scary things. It's natural - you don't know what to look for, or forget to look for it.
Millions of Americans pass their days peacefully while fully aware of the level of gun crime. I am, and always will be, aghast at the fact that it is legal to carry a gun for no particular reason. To me it just asking for bad things to happen. Being European, I believe that guns legally belong only to police forces**, armies and huntsmen. I am not enthusiastic about the hunting but I have some level of respect for people who hunt for food.
Maybe some of you can see why I am, every now and again, scared senseless of moving to the US. Of course there is gun-related violent crime in Belgium; of course. Of course we have hold-ups and car-jackings and the whole wide range of it. There is a film called C'est arrivé près de chez vous, which literally means "It has come close to where you live". And so it has - very close. Monstrosities in your own home town, it's nothing new. But it gnaws at my already impaired suspension of disbelief in safety to know that it is so much easier for it to happen in the States than in Belgium.
Yeah, I know, the gun crime statistics for the US are better than for Europe - if only you leave out those bothersome African-Americans. Go ahead, follow the link. It is no more than a slightly more extreme version of a popular opinion on the role that guns play in American society. No, seriously, I am about four times more likely to be killed in a shooting in the US than here. In fact, I am about four times more likely to be murdered regardless of weapons. Not really a very comforting statistic, especially if you look at my home country's reputation for gun running.
Back to my point which is - it's a scary country you guys live in. Not as scary as, say, South Africa, granted, but then I don't propose to live there. That, combined with a cultural vulnerability that I know well enough, makes for a very anxious Belgian.
Someone contradict me, please.
*Quentin Tarantine style. Yes, this is part of the reason why I so detest gratuitous violence in films. Yes I think he and those like him glorify violence.
**Can I point out that in the UK the police on the street does not carry guns, and never has, and seems to work as well or as badly as anywhere else?
Editorial Note: I altered the date on this post so that it could remain on top for longer. It was originally written on Wednesday the 22nd. Sorry, TDEC, if I annoy you when I do that.