lundi, octobre 21, 2013

Pro-life? Lock up your guns

We don't need any more dead heroes.

I doubt I was the only one weeping as I learned about math teacher Michael Landsberry, a veteran with a wife and two stepdaughters.

Landsberry, from what we know, was a veteran of a number of tours of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan.

He probably didn't imagine that he would be killed protecting children from a homicidal (and then suicidal) student who had taken his parent's handgun to Sparks Middle School.

Law enforcement officials in the Nevada town say that they don't know if the student intended to kill certain people, or was on a random "spree" (hate that word).

Whether he was the intended target or not, Michael Landsberry is still a hero.  And he's still dead.

I often wonder about the bifurcation of American political ideologies.

How can the Republican Party, that claims to respect the rights of the unborn be so harshly wed to a blindered and perspective on the Second Amendment? I really, really doubt our Founding Fathers gave us the sacred right to slaughter each other -- or to take guns and turn them on ourselves.  Suicide by gun is much more common than is self-defense.

And lethal weapons used in places where we, particularly our vulnerable kids, have a right to feel safe, negate pretty much everything else that matters. Except, perhaps, heroism -- but oh, at what a price.

As we have seen again and again in violent incidents that play out on televisions in boardrooms and airports, bedrooms and gyms, none of the other parts of our Constitution really matter when someone is waving a gun around.

And how can the opposing party, the Democrats, so concerned about the social welfare of the less advantaged, be arbitrarily willing to say that they know when life begins?

Though the focus on a woman's body and a woman's choice may be rooted in a reaction to patriarchy, it is now in danger, if not part of a conversation about the common good and the greater good, another way of saying that life itself can be reduced to a series of rationalizations.

And then there is the violence.

We share that.

Video games. Mixed-martial arts. Boxing.  Even, all too often, football.

Sexual abuse of girls and child abuse in general leave physical and psychological scars that we can see.

Ignoring the fact that about a fifth of our children are "food insecure" or frankly hungry every day? We tolerate that kind of brutality by ignoring it, walling it off, pretending it doesn't exist.

Until, of course, our social and private wounds erupt like a volcano, bringing us a Newtown or a Sparks.

Those two towns will symbolize our American tragedy as effectively as Salem reminds us that we used to put witches on trial.

I am beginning to believe that this fight against the night in our nation's soul is not a political one, although it is framed in candidate's speeches. It is not solely about individuals and their principles.

To choose peace, life, renewal, whether we put those in secular or religious terms, we must first face into our own love affair with the darkness.

Today, outside that school, evil yowled and stamped its feet in triumph.

When we don't treat lethal weapons with the respect and seriousness they deserve, when there are no consequences for parents who allow their kids to access them, when we treat guns like sacred totems instead of killing machines, bad things are going to happen.

But reading about a Michael Landsberry, or the six courageous teachers who died in Newtown, Connecticut, doesn't make accepting that any easier.

"What will it take to change our gun culture?" I've wondered during previous gun violence incidents.

Tonight, I'm not at all sure that it will change.  I'd like to believe that this time will be different -- that there will be a tide of sorrow and disgust so strong our most testosterone-laden legislators cannot resist.

I'd like to think that people will embrace the sacredness of the life around us -- what we can't see and what we can.

But I don't think teachable moments come drenched in blood (though if they do, judging by the links next to the article posted here, Nevada gets more than its fair share).

Instead, as I pray for Landsberry's grieving widow, stepdaughters and students tonight, I'm going to ask that my eyes will be open to see the shadows in my own life.  At the moment, I find, it's all that I can do.


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