There are days and there are nights when the best way to face horror and tragedy is to go right into it, into the pain, and not turn away.
The recent gun massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, touches us all on some level as our lives are so intertwined. A young man, Adam Lanza, sick with perhaps more than one illness, shot dead 20 young boys and girls, seven adults, and then took his own life. His illnesses are termed “psychological” or “mental” even though all such disorders stem from the body as mind arises from brain activity. Reports claim he shot many of these people numerous times. He was so accurate with his gun that there were no survivors among those he shot.
Police reports claim he used a Bushmaster .223 caliber Remington AR-15, a semiautomatic rifle. It’s a demilitarized version of the Army’s Vietnam-era M16 and is categorized as an assault rifle. Our national ban on assault rifles expired in 2004. Adam Lanza also allegedly carried two handguns and several hundred rounds of ammunition including high-capacity magazines for the Bushmaster. He stole these weapons from his mother, a registered gun owner, whom he killed first.
Regardless of deep emotions and strong beliefs inflamed by such murders, this massacre of schoolchildren as young as six and seven years old aroused a nation. Indeed, it aroused the world. We are once again reminded that even though we divide ourselves over politics, religion, and ethnicity, we are still one species sharing one planet.
Many issues are at stake here. What is most striking is even though so many people have staked out rigid positions on the various issues; many more are willing to engage in dialogue about them for solutions. That is good news and feels long overdue.
Let me name the dragons we finally have the courage to face as a nation. Keep in mind that to name something is to identify it and to some degree rob it of its power. To name something is to respond without reacting and thus we take on being responsible. By taking on responsibility, especially after first accepting what has happened even if we don’t like it, we become cause in the matter, not victims of circumstance.
Below I name our dragons:
This is an issue of emotionally laden language between groups of people who label each other “gun nuts” versus “gun grabbers.” The issue is the capacity and the willingness to set such divisive blame and shame language aside, or the incapacity and unwillingness for people to do so. Can we stop calling each other names?
This is a gun issue.
This is a gun control issue.
This is an assault rifle issue.
This is a high-capacity magazine issue.
This is a registered firearms issue.
This is an ammunition issue.
This is a handgun issue.
This is a self-defense issue.
This is a Second Amendment issue.
This is a United States Constitution issue.
This is an issue where there is widespread misunderstanding and ignorance that the Second Amendment was not about hunting and target-shooting or even just about state militias, but for common individual citizens to be able to defend themselves against their government. This includes even against a democratic republican government should that government become despotic and turn against its own people.
In recent U.S. history Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama were at different times during their administrations each declared tyrants by large minorities of fellow Americans. If true, and there is basis for such accusations, then do we start shooting? And, really, now, shoot at whom? Federal and state governments have suppressed revolts within the U.S.A. since the Whiskey Rebellion first challenged government authorities.
This is an issue where individual liberty and social responsibilities merge and clash and yet must be acknowledged and addressed.
These issues reflect the tensions between safety and liberty.
This is an enforcing-existing-laws issue and addressing what new laws may or may not be required.
This is a health issue.
This is a health insurance issue.
This is a health issue where psychological illnesses must be recognized as somatic and thus based in the body, as the bodymind is one.
This is a economic and financial issue.
This is a violent video game issue.
This is a culture of violence issue.
This is a religious issue.
This is a spiritual issue.
This is a family issue.
This is an education and school issue.
This is a political issue.
This is a law enforcement issue.
This is a human rights issue.
This is a civil rights issue.
This is a love issue, including self-love.
This is a lack of love issue, including the lack of self-love.
These issues include vulnerability, respect, and trust, and the lack thereof.
This is an issue of what we do to raise boys into men and girls into women.
This is an issue for communication, for dialogue, and for listening.
This is a human issue.
What about the rights of those murdered to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Instead we prattle on about the right to own firearms instead of declaring and clarifying in simple, straightforward language a basic human right to self-defense.
This is a distraction as well as an immediacy issue. The fallout from the Newtown gun massacre is a distraction from the LIBOR and other global financial scandals, a distraction from the fiscal cliff gridlock in the Federal government, a distraction from the dire threat of major regional or even world war in the Middle East, and a distraction from our long-term environmental, energy, and economic problems. Yet this nest of issues arising from murdered schoolchildren at Sandy Hook has immediate impact demanding responsible action NOW. Now!
There are those who claim this is not a gun issue or a mental health issue because motor vehicle accidents and bomb explosions kill more people. Those are red herrings and are not relevant to a sick man using a stolen but registered assault rifle on his mother, on little schoolchildren, and those kids’ teachers and principal. What is relevant is listed above.
While I have my opinions and judgments, I realize none of my opinions and judgments are real solutions but my point of view as I look through the lenses I see through, consciously and unconsciously. What may be wisest is for us to gather in bipartisan dialogue around our communities. We can gather not to debate and argue, not to discuss with percussive volleys of beliefs, but to listen to one another.
Love is one of the rich commonalities shared by all the Great Religions and many minor ones. Love requires the courage to stand fully in one’s power. To do invites the courage to be open and vulnerable in a dangerous world, a world made dangerous by our fellow human beings, most of the dangerous ones being males. Love and power complement and amplify each other. To paraphrase Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., love without power is weak and sentimental and power without love is violent and abusive.
While political action and social reflection will result from this slaughter, nothing will ultimately work unless we first look at ourselves in the mirror, both as individuals and as a network of cultures. As many religious and spiritual leaders have said in one way or another, there can be no peace between nations until we first have peace within our own homes. And there can be no such peace until we learn to make peace with our selves within our own hearts, and share that vulnerability with others. If we are unable to do this, especially in large enough numbers, then the scoffers, cynics, egoics, and self-declared realists will continue to draw weapons upon each other and the rest of us.
The so-called “gun nuts” and “gun grabbers” may sit down and deliberate upon political compromise with a hodgepodge of solutions and likely will, and none of it shall work without us listening to the wisdom of our hearts to first love ourselves as well as our fellow humans. For to do so may leave us incapable of deliberately harming ourselves or other people except in self-defense or defense of others. It is time to take a stand and say “NO!” to violence and to our cultural justifications for violence.
William Dudley Bass
Wednesday 19 December 2012
Copyright © 2012, 2016 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.