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Monday, December 17, 2012

O Wisdom

I grew up not so far from Newtown, Connecticut. I can smell the air and see the landscape so clearly. It's Christmas time. Decorations are up, Christmas trees are shining bright on the town green... and suddenly, in the midst of preparation and the great celebratory rush, devastation is thrust upon us. There have been other tragedies that have knocked us back at this time of year. The first I experienced was the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Another was the 21st of December 1988, the Lockerbie bombing of Pan Am 103. And now we suffer the chilling agony and pain of the slaughter of  the Innocents.

Today is the 17th of December. The day when many churches begin the recitation of the Antiphons of Advent. Today's reading is O Wisdom (O Sapientia) and it seems appropriate to dwell on this in order to try to make sense of what on earth is happening in our country in particular. I believe that if we as a nation do not do something to control the use and availability of guns it will happen again and again.

Do not tell me that guns don't kill people, people kill people. Don't tell me that more cars kill people than guns. The purpose of a gun is to kill. That is not the purpose of a car, as you well know! And the argument that we need to protect this Constitutional 'right' because it might be necessary for the populace to have guns should a government betray its people and needs to be overturned -- is so flawed  it beggars belief. First of all, what non-democratically elected person or group determines this? If this were true, it would follow that any person has the Constitutional right to determine that he or she has the right to destroy the government should he or she think that government needs overthrowing.

Right now there is uproar. I hope those with a voice will lead the way to a better way than the rule of lobbyists from the National Rifle Association. They have been pulling the strings for far to long. In the 60's I worked for my Congressman in his Washington office. As long ago as that Congressional and Senatorial offices were besieged with hundreds of letters and phone calls from the NRA. American legislators have got to stop being 'for hire'. Feelings are strong right now, but we all know that the strength of feeling will fade. The other day on television an American living in Britain said that teachers should be armed -- he is not alone. He insisted that if they had been armed in Newtown they would have been able to 'take him out'. What has happened when people believe this is an answer -- armed teachers of small children. And just where would this weapon be kept -- on the teacher? Under lock and key? How would it be feasible to access it if some maniac appears brandishing his own firearms?

Another woman today argued that if we weren't allowed to have guns then only the bad guy would have them ... I don't pretend to know the answer to the predicament we find ourselves. When there are over  300,000,000 guns in the country it seems an impossible task to have any kind of meaningful gun control. But perhaps we should start with a ban on assault weapons and take it from there -- if the Supreme Court doesn't knock it down. But I say, it's time to fight and maybe lose, but fight again and again and again.

So I call upon Wisdom today especially:
O Sapientia (Is. 11:2-3; 28:29): "O Wisdom, you come forth from the mouth of the Most High. You fill the universe and hold all things together in a strong yet gentle manner. O come to teach us the way of truth."

19 comments:

  1. And Amen again - thank you for your wise words, too, Broad. I pray that there will be many, many others who feel the same throughout your great country, and that Wisdom and plain common sense will overcome there. Christmas blessings to you and your family.

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    1. Thank you, Helva. It will not be easy and will require a lot of good will from both sides of the argument...

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  2. Gun control (stronger regulations) will not solve the problem, but it also will not make it any worse. THere is no need that I can fathom for assult guns...there is no reason to not make gun purchases less easy...Psycological tests of some sort, written tests and a demonstration of competance...a licence to own and a hefty fee to obtain a licence...proof of a safe lockup for firearms...and the removal of licence to own and removal of all registered guns for conviction of a crime including DWI, public intoxication or violance of any kind.

    Laws to limit arms will not solve the problem, but it can not hurt and at least we can say we tried.

    Disclosure: I am not anti gun...I am not anti-hunting...I believe there are situations where people need guns for protection...I am not anti-range shooting. I do not own a gun and have never fired a gun I do not like guns.

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    1. Thank you for this, Joeh. I agree with you! But I do wonder how we can ever regulate the number of guns already out there ...

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  3. Broad, I thought of you as soon as I heard this news and I too say Amen to your wise and passionate words. There can be no rational reason for any private individual to own an assault rifle and banning these would at least be a start.

    It's hard for most of us in Britain truly to understand the American insistence on the right to own guns. The reaction after our own school massacre at Dunblane was a huge demand for more gun control and that's what we got. Perhaps at last there will be a similar surge in public opinion in the USA which will strengthen the resolve of the government to make this happen.

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    1. Thank you, Perpetua. I think most Americans would like to see more gun control than there is -- but there are powerful influences and lots of propaganda that have made this an emotional issue for everybody. It's quite shocking to see how immediate the NRA reacts to these tragedies with the same old cliches time after time, over and over.

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  4. Your words are well-written and so very true. You've said it all so well.

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    1. Thank you Stephen. It's very hard to think that this time will be different -- that is that something will get done. But it is interesting that people like Joe Scarborough, for example, seem to have changed their view. One can but live in hope sometimes...

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  5. I used to say jokingly that the world has gone mad and that we are but patients in the asylum. I'm no longer joking.

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    1. “Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!” (The Man of La Mancha)

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  7. I do wonder if this has become the tipping point that will take us to a more sane world. I am not holding my breath, but so many of us are unable to continue to see this kind of madness on an almost daily basis. This was the worst thing I could have imagined. If we don't act now, we never will.

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  8. We all need to commit ourselves to standing fast and making our feelings known. I have felt intimidated in the past about speaking out. No political party seemed either willing or able to speak out -- perhaps now there are some voices coming out from the darkness...

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  9. Amen, Broad! I don't understand why people feel such a need to be armed either. A neighbor of mine, who political views are a polar opposite from mine, said yesterday "I hope this doesn't mean more gun control. This tragedy had nothing to do with guns. It had to do with a crazy person." Huh? A mentally ill person -- with guns! He couldn't have done what he did without such weapons! It's just appalling that these tragedies keep happening.

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    1. 'None so blind as those who will not see' as the saying going...

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  10. Well said, everyone.

    We find it hard to understand the 'gun owning, gun toting' set but have read about how powerful this lobby is. It seems that politicians who try to argue against this group are at risk of losing support.

    Something needs to be done and maybe this will, as DJan says, be the 'tipping point'. I'm equally sure that this has been said before.

    To an outsider it is obvious that some action is needed, and the more 'meaningful' the better.

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  11. Today the NRA released a statement:

    "The National Rifle Association of America is made up of 4 million moms and dads, sons and daughters – and we were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown.

    "Out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting.

    "The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.

    Living in hope, but not exactly holding my breath!

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  12. With only 5% of the world's population, the United States has 50% of the guns. My take is this: Question: Why do people have guns? Answer: To protect themselves from other people with guns. What does this mean? It means that people are afraid. If people are afraid, they are in bondage. To their fear. There's no freedom in fear. So to my mind, all these people with guns have already lost their freedom. I'm going to work on this statement and get it in better shape, then I will send it to the President, my republican congressman, the NRA, etc. So I'm trying it out on you. Does it make any sense?

    Thank you for this post. And to move on: Merry Christmas to you and your family and all the best for the New Year.

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Receiving comments is a joy and I thank you all for taking the trouble and showing your interest. Makes me feel all gooey and stuff!