Another day, another school shooting, another mass murder…when will it end? And what can we do about it? Those are the thoughts swirling through my brain today. And since I have the luxury of time in which to think and write, that is what I’ve decided to do; because I need to do something.
I began my day as I always do. Feed the animals, pack lunches, drink coffee, chat with hubby, read email, check out social media to see what my peeps have in store for their days. And of course, social media is overloaded with the latest school shooting. The news articles with numbers and quotes, video and pictures are sandwiched between the retweets from people in power along with the counter tweets begging for justice. There are memes and political cartoons along with prayers and poetry covering all sides of the issues. And the inevitable story in support of the NRA that takes us all the way back to Cain and Abel and their story to explain the existence of hatred in all of men’s hearts as some kind of excuse for why it is perfectly legitimate to purchase your own personal arsenal for self-defense. Suddenly, I just can’t stand it anymore. I want to rant and rave, scream and yell, cry out “WHY???” to the heavens. Children are dying and all we can do is argue and debate?
For the record, I have to address the Cain and Abel reference for the smarmy attempt at mollification that it is. I would like to point out a few things that always stick in my craw when this comes up. First of all, it is comparing apples to oranges. Cain beat his brother to death with a rock or club, depending on your translation. He didn’t mow him down with an automatic weapon equipped with a high volume magazine. He hit him with a big stick. Second, he wasn’t some stranger, newly arrived in town that had everyone looking over their shoulder because damn, that guy looks creepy. He killed his own brother. I don’t know about you, but I normally don’t expect my brother to beat me to death because he is jealous that my work has brought more favor from our father than his did. If that were the norm in sibling rivalry, I would have been dead decades ago. Lord knows there were many times that my efforts were seen as better than his and we all knew it. But that’s not the point. The point is that if we are aware and wary, we all have a chance to defend ourselves against an angry person wielding a big stick; nobody has equal footing with an AK-47. And dumping more guns into public hands hasn’t done a damn bit of good. If you read the studies and statistics, the increase in gun ownership has grown by leaps and bounds and the mass public shootings have grown right along with it. As far as the bit about Cain and Abel being proof that there has always been evil in men’s hearts…I can only say, “No shit, Sherlock!” After thousands of years of history, of wars, violence, slavery, etc., I think we have figured that out. What I just can’t understand is why so many people are totally fine with handing over weapons designed to kill efficiently and in large numbers when they know that evil is out there. You cannot condone your own use of those weapons by quoting the Bible. The Bible says to turn the other cheek, do not kill, do not covet thy neighbor’s wife and stuff….the Bible does not say it’s OK to own guns because you fancy yourself a great white hunter, or are afraid of Muslims, and besides, Cain killed Able.
I say BULLSHIT! Christian gun owners feeling guilty over their stance really need to find a better argument. Spouting Bible quotes for every violent occasion hasn’t done a bit of good yet. Why not try a new tack? Christ didn’t just get pissed off at the money lenders and yell at them. He didn’t walk around with some kind of holier than thou attitude telling everyone the right way to be. He literally turned the tables on them, threw over the tables and tossed their money on the ground and took action against the injustice he saw. He fed people, washed their feet, learned what was in their hearts and learned to LOVE them. He didn’t sit in glass cathedrals sweating while the migrant workers start collecting stones.
So the great burning question is-- What can we do? Those of us that love our children more than guns, what can we do to help change the world and make it safer for our grandchildren? I know that many people have been calling, writing letters, and emailing their representatives for years on this matter. I asked my hubby what it would take to get some intelligent legislation written to help and was reminded that it has already been written, repeatedly. But as long as the NRA, (or Russia) keep paying, and as long as the gun lobbyists can expect to keep being paid, nothing will change until we vote some intelligent people into office. As long as we have large groups of citizens living in fear of The Other, listening to that idiot on Info Wars and his ilk, spreading hate and intolerance, and equating their rights to own guns with their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we have a very long, steeply graded slope to fight our way up.
This brings me to a few things I heard recently, from Morgan Freeman and Michelle Obama while they were being interviewed on separate occasions. Morgan Freeman was talking about people in general over time, and that behaviors and beliefs are like waves and can be almost predictable given enough distance and perspective. And I was reminded of the fact that ocean waves, while coming in and retreating, are inevitably turning over everything under them. If you study an island like Assateague, you will find that the island itself literally rolls over given enough time spent with the waves constantly moving. Michelle Obama pointed out that if you look at our nation just in the past 100 years, yes, we still have a lot of work to do, but we have already come so far. I take heart in that statement, and in the knowledge that like the tide, the Love will slowly work its magic. The ebb and flow will inevitably turn over everything it washes over, exposing the fear and cleansing it, washing away the hate and distrust it brings, exposing the tender love it hides.
Bottom line, if you can’t run for office to make positive changes, vote for those that can and do. And in the meantime, go out and love one another. Practice random acts of kindness, because Nice Matters. Be the change you wish to see in the world, one smile at a time. And never forget that you are not just a single drop in the ocean, you are also the entire ocean in a single drop.
Many thanks to Gandhi, my daughter Rebecca Emerick, Rumi, and many other poets for their inspiring words that I have taken the liberty to paraphrase in my closing.