My rumination around the most recent massacres has led me in several directions. I have only thoughts, no answers. But my heart and mind will process these events and all the previous killings until I find peace with this.
My first thought is around failure. Leaders have failed — failed to protect through laws enforced and un-enforced. Society at large has failed — failed to identify and name and protect those, particularly the youth, who fall through the cracks. Families have failed — failed to reckon with their young people who are online in dangerous ways. Failed to acknowledge troubled behaviors and small acts of harm. Law enforcement has failed — failed in knowing their communities, failed in acting to preserve and protect. Failure is not a crime; not acknowledging failure could be.
We are tired people. Fatigue renders us incapable of rising up to address problems. The pandemic has worn us out. The guns issue wearies us. We are tired of work and tired of being tired in it all. Work-life balance is a good idea, but most of us continue on a treadmill like mice going nowhere. Fatigue clouds judgment as we look for the easiest way out.
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Lastly, the question arises, what does our future hold if we stay the course of undermining the government, letting a wild, wild west mindset govern? What will the future bring unless climate issues are addressed head on and changes in a fossil fuel economy are not made sooner rather than later? What will the future be in towns like Buffalo, and Uvalde, and Parkland, and Sandy Hook as a generation of people is cut down by crazed people with AR-15s? How do we find hope for a future with peace and goodwill among us?
The United States is the greatest nation on earth, but it seems like we are standing on ever-shakier ground. The Constitution is under assault, particularly the Amendments. The Bill of Rights is a masterpiece of assurances for the free republic we so enjoy. It’s funny to me how some of those Amendments are interpreted.
First Amendment — free speech and a free press. The harangue around these two guarantees fills the news ad nauseam. We learn that speech isn’t really free; words have devastating consequences when spoken in untruths and hate.
The Second Amendment guarantees that we should have a well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. Well, hello 2022. How is this interpreted now? When I read the Second Amendment, I read it differently than many gun-lovers do. I see a militia as a regulated group of fighters, trained to augment government military when called upon. I don’t see para-military groups well outside anything the government regulates, marching in Charlottesville and storming the Capitol. I don’t see the bearing of arms including assault weapons of mass destruction and high-capacity magazines.
The Second Amendment was ratified in 1791. Justice Alito, who reminded us that abortion is not mentioned in the Constitution, should agree that assault weapons are also not mentioned in the Second Amendment. (So much for proof-texting.) In fact, the weapons of choice in 1791 were the musket and the flintlock pistol. Killing capacity is miniscule compared to the shredding of human tissue inflicted by rapid fire weapons of war.
Many people don’t have guns just for protection or just for hunting. Some collect hundreds of guns. So many, in fact, that they buy huge gun vaults and reinforce floor joists just to hold the gun vaults up. There are more guns in America than in any other country in the world. Civilian ownership of guns in the United States doubles the next most gun-happy country.
Failure and fatigue will impact our future unless we rise up to make changes that most of us want. As we approach mid-term elections, find out where the money is coming from in the campaigns. Find out positions on climate action, and gun safety, and women’s rights. Change, even small change over time, correct course. It is time to vote smart and say no to all that will rob our future.
Lib Campbell is a retired Methodist pastor, retreat leader and hosts the website: avirtualchurch.com. She welcomes comments at email@example.com.