Did you know the AK-47 was actually invented by somebody? I thought they just magically appeared one day, forged by the hand of Vulcan or they burst forth from the head of Zeus fully loaded and available in multiple customized variations for the terrorist on the go. Even pink and purple ones for the ladies. A guy named Mikhail Kalashnikov, not to be confused with Mikhail Baryshnikov, designed the assault rifle. During his life, Kalashnikov repeatedly insisted the many deaths caused by his invention are not his fault. The blood is not on his hands. He invented the assault rifle to defend his home country. If other people used it for other reasons, he took no blame for that, and while I may doubt that opinion, I don’t make it a habit to go around pointing fingers at people. I done some stupid shit in my time too. I don’t like to play the blame game. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone, or shoot an AK-47 if no stones are handy.
Kalashnikov died not too long ago at the age of 94. After his death, a document surfaced, allegedly a letter written in his own words, where he essentially asks a Russian Orthodox minister of the christian church for absolution, or at least confirmation that he’s been right all along and the blood shed by AK-47s aren’t even indirectly his responsibility. Again, this doesn’t sound like the Kalashnikov of the past several decades. The Kalashnikov who lived was quoted as blaming politicians for allowing his invention to be used outside the Soviet Union. He was also ordered to invent the damn thing. He wanted to make agricultural machinery, but you do what you told in Mother Russia. Granted, the AK-47 has survived the Soviet Union, but he couldn’t have known that was gonna happen, right?
It seems curious that this would come to light now, after his death, that Kalashnikov privately harbored uncertainties about his place in history, and would confide in a priest, who of course then blabbed to the press so soon after the guy’s death. Okay. So his body is probably cold by now, but it was probably cold before he died. It’s Russia we’re talking about. After a lifetime of denial, we are led to believe mere months before his death, practically on his death bed, a man like Kalashnikov would question his resolve, and ask The Church if he’s supposed to feel guilt for the sins of countless others.
This document carried Kalashnikov’s signature, but it’s not actually written in his hand. It was typed, and his own daughter admits its possible a local priest “helped” him compose it before mailing it to Patriarch Kirill. Am I suggesting foul play? Well.. it wouldn’t be the first time a Church claimed someone recanted on their death bed. Before Christopher Hitchens died of cancer, he cautioned people that if people were told he accepted Jesus on his death bed, it was either a blatant lie by his religious brother, or Hitch was delirious at the end and not in a sound frame of mind. In either case, don’t believe what others claim to be his last words.
Before Kalashnikov died, I’m sure plenty of people were blaming him anyway for the deaths of anyone they cared about at the hand of an AK-47. How could anyone even contemplate such a devastatingly effective weapon? Why would anyone even do that? Well as it happens, Kalashnikov had a very good reason at the time, or so he believed. He was helping his brothers and sisters of Russia in defending his homeland. Whatever country you’re from, wouldn’t you go out of your way to defend your home that you love so much? What American wouldn’t do the same for our country? …okay don’t answer that. I’ll change the subject.
Now that Kalashnikov can no longer defend himself, what would it hurt if The Church helped victims of AK-47s in their subjective perception of reality, and blame a guy who’s already dead for the loss of their families and loved ones? What could it hurt? But this begs a larger question. WAS he responsible? If he had said no to inventing the AK-47, would his superiors have just killed him for insubordination and got someone else to build it? Kalashnikov was not the only gun designer during World War Two. He probably had many peers. It was perhaps even a competition of sorts. I’m sure he felt pressure to do well and excel for his homeland. Nationalism has its benefits, after all (as well as its downside). Would history be all that much different if someone else’s name was where Kalashnikov is now in world history, next to a slightly different weapon with a slightly different name but was probably about as reliable and simple in design? Maybe it wouldn’t have been as good at what it did, so a few less million would be dead now. Odds are Russia still would have won the war had Kalashnikov’s superiors gone with someone else’s gun and not his. Odds are terrorists would still use the best available assault rifle on the market today. If not the AK-47, it’d be something else. When a terrorist builds a bomb and uses it to blow up scores of people in a public place, is it the fault of every manufacturer of every object the terrorist used to build that bomb, or is it just the fault of the bomb maker? We can ask this question countless different ways. I never have understood the blame game.
Robert Oppenheimer allegedly quoted from the Bhagavad Gita when he witnessed the first atom bomb explosion: “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” However, he was just one guy on the Manhattan Project. Many people worked on that. Maybe if one of those guys said no, we still wouldn’t know how to split an atom. We still probably wouldn’t believe in atoms. I mean if you never do what’s necessary to split an atom, it’d still be theoretical, and that’s really all Oppenheimer was: a theoretical physicist. He spent the rest of his life fighting politicians and warmongers and did what he could to stave off the inevitable Cold War between the US and Russia. He felt personally responsible for the deaths of people in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Had he said no to contributing to the invention of the atom bomb, wouldn’t the Powers That Be have just gotten someone else? Was he so instrumental that had he had the foresight to know what his superiors would do with this much power, and stayed his hand, would we still not have nuclear power plants today? Would we still be in the dark about quantum theory, black holes, and all the other work he did before during and after The Manhattan Project?
Whenever you or I do something, no matter how insignificant, are we responsible for all the bad and good and a spectrum of events in between that are the effect of our cause? Anything that transpires after we knock down the domino, should we take personal responsibility for all that? Even and especially stuff we can’t see happen, and couldn’t have possibly foreseen? There are belief systems that would say yes, but these belief systems also insist we “sinners” take responsibility for things that happened before we were born, events laid out by our ancestors which we could not have possibly prevented and don’t even directly involve us. Women are to be punished for all time because of something an imaginary allegedly girl did in an undiscovered garden at the presupposed dawn of mankind’s origins.
I saw a cartoon once when I was a child on the tv series Sesame Street. It showed a cute little girl holding a bag of ping pong balls while standing on a stool. She wondered out loud if she should spill this bag of balls on the floor and then she mused extensively about what might happen if she did spill the ping pong balls on the floor. She surmised they’d bounce all over the place, wake up her cat, cause her cat to scatter across the room and knock over a lamp that would then get caught on drapes and set the house on fire. So she decided in the end not to spill the bag of ping pong balls because she loved her cat.
Dennis Rodman is freaking people out cuz he keeps going over to North Korea and hanging out with Kim Jong Un who let’s face it is a jerk face. He killed his own uncle out of spite. He killed his ex-girlfriend to appease his current wife. He incarcerates foreigners who enter his country that look at him funny. Dennis Rodman is best pals with a modern day Napoleon wanna be. He’s bringing attention to a man who somebody should just bend over their knee and give a good spanking. However, is Dennis Rodman responsible for the consequences of his actions, hanging out with his bud Kim Jong Un? If we learned Dennis Rodman is intentionally hanging out with this guy for personal selfish reasons, would we blame him then? If we learned Dennis Rodman is honestly an idiot and totally incapable of understanding why even giving a rat bastard like Kim Jong Un the time of day is disastrous for foreign policy not just with America but around the world, would we still blame him for being such an idiot? Are we wrong in thinking that Rodman singing Happy Birthday to Kim Jong and what not are really doing anything significant at all? Would Kim Jong Un just befriend some other wanna be celebrity if Rodman didn’t say yes? I honestly don’t know the answer to these questions. I just think these are questions we should be asking, and I’m concerned that none of us are gonna like the answers, even if we believe in an answer right now and find out later we were right all along, or vice versa.
Are we responsible for other people’s reactions to what we do? If so, should we care about that? If not, shouldn’t we still care about that? Are we responsible for what we do.. do? If we didn’t do it, wouldn’t have someone else just done it eventually anyway? Is it enough to say no, knowing someone else will just take your place, just so you don’t have to go to your grave wondering whether or not you should have invented the AK-47? If in fact you really did give a shit in the first place. I dunno. It’s moments like this I’m just glad I never accomplished anything significant in my life. That way I don’t have to be responsible for it, whatever it was going to be. ..what if I was the one who was supposed to cure brain cancer?