Tag Archives: guns

pro-gun mom with son

Pro-gun mom shot. Where is our compassion?

This week, the news broke about a vocally pro-gun mom who was accidentally shot by her 4-year-old son. It is axiomatic that, in today’s American society, for the next two weeks, the Internet will be alive with horrible cruelty towards her (the worse because she survived). All I can think of is that hospital room somewhere, filled with those heartsick for the recovery of their mom, their wife, their daughter. 

Friday, her family publicly stated that the incident does nothing to change her stance on guns; I imagine that will be a source of much scathing derision as well. All I can do is remember bad things in my life that were partly or wholly my own fault, few of which occasioned a wholesale abandonment of my worldview.

Does my compassion means I am pro-gun myself? On the contrary. But if our sympathy’s reach is so short that it encompasses only our friends, then what good is it?

Compassion is not agreement

It happens that there is much about this woman I don’t agree with.

  • I don’t agree that owning a gun would make me safer. I’ve never had an experience where I wished guns were involved; I’ve had several where I was grateful they weren’t. But nothing about that prevents me from understanding the opposite perspective.  
  • I don’t agree with the tone of her past published remarks on Facebook. Some of them, to my ear, sound sneering, condescending, mocking. But nothing about that makes me want to abandon my core values and retaliate in kind.

I cannot help thinking, what if our situations were reversed?

Bad things happen

Something bad happened to her because of what she believes, but bad things can also happen to me because of what I believe. There are situations in which I could become the poster boy for those who want to mock the “stupidity” in failing to own a gun. In a worst case scenario, I could find myself powerless to protect innocent lives.

None of that, if it happened to me, would make me go out and buy a gun. Life is a gamble, and everyone still loses sometimes. I have educated myself as best I can, and of the various imperfect options, I have chosen one that I can live with. Pro-gun Christians argue that scripture permits self-defense, but at the very least, it runs wildly contrary to the example of Christ, which we are repeatedly urged to follow:

I would hope that, come the worst, people who disagree with me would understand that I lived my life as I did out of sincere conviction and accepted the consequences of my choices, just as Christ accepted the consequences of his and as, I’m sure, this mom accepts the consequences of hers.

No place for ungrace

People go skydiving and break a leg. People go swimming in the ocean and get stung by jellyfish. People cross streets and get hit by cars. We make choices every day and those choices sometimes go horribly wrong.

If we will not show compassion and grace in those moments, who are we? There is no part of your being at fault excuses me from my humanity. No good ever came of gloating or bullying. The Bible teaches, “Do unto others as you would have done to you.”

Which of us, in our darkest hour, beset by tragedy of our own making, would have others come around us in scathing condemnation and judgment? Be kind. Be loving. Be Christlike.

Refugees: boy on street

Guns, flowers, refugees… and why I am not afraid

You’ve probably seen it by now. A little boy and his dad are being interviewed about the recent attacks in Paris. He wants to move away to escape the terrorists who, he explains, have guns, prompting this (excerpted) exchange:

  • They have guns but we have flowers.
  • But flowers don’t do anything!
  • Of course they do. Look, everyone is putting flowers. It’s to fight against the guns.
  • It’s to protect?
  • Exactly. Do you feel better now?
  • Yes… I feel better.

Is this exchange inspiring or hopelessly naïve? Is the father simply lying to provide an illusion of safety, or does he have some kind of valid point? The questions of safety and danger are on everybody’s minds right now, especially as we in the U.S. weigh whether to participate in the sheltering of refugees fleeing from ISIS. What does the Bible have to say?

Illusion of safety

The little boy in this video has a tragically valid concern: getting shot. The father gives him a soothing answer, but is there a better answer? Something he could say or do to actually assure his son’s safety? Of course not.

We all want to feel safe, but we live in an unsafe world. If the little boy feels better because he has a flower, an adult perspective recognizes that as just a calming illusion. But we all are clinging to calming illusions. Some places in the world are more violent, some less so, and it is worth working to reduce violence, but also remember that, if you’re reading this, you live someplace with enough violence to worry about and it’s going to be that way for a while. The father could have said, “We have guns too and we’re going to keep you safe,” but we have more guns in the U.S. than any other developed country and violence still exists here. So as we advocate for our particular solutions, we must also figure out how to keep getting out of bed in the morning even if violence is never solved, and that is where the flowers come in.

How “the flowers” fight

From “love your enemies” to “do not resist one who is evil” to “all who draw the sword will die by the sword“, Christ’s response to violence is nonviolence and submission. There is no exception for us; we are commanded to take up the cross as well.

The whole point of forgiveness and love is that it takes the power away from the terrorists. It is not the result of stupidity, ignorance, or naïveté. There are other words for facing danger without fear. They are words like bravery, self-sacrifice, heroism… the firefighters did not rush into the World Trades on 9/11 because they were unaware of the danger.

Where, then, should we stand when there is a choice between heroism and danger? If we can save some innocent lives, should we not be willing to risk even our own lives to do so? Up to now, the whole argument on accepting refugees has been, “Is it dangerous or isn’t it?” To me, both arguments are nonsense. Resisting evil is always dangerous.

Into danger, unafraid

It was dangerous to operate the Underground Railroad. It was dangerous to confront Apartheid. It was dangerous to shelter Tutsis during the Rwandan genocide, to inscribe the names on Schindler’s List, to harbor the family of Anne Frank. It was dangerous for Christ to go into Jerusalem. All of those people walked into danger with their eyes open. Many of them paid with their lives. I don’t think any of them had regrets.

The dustbins of history are littered with the names of those who chose their own prosaic safety rather than stand up to a monstrous evil. When we consign the innocent to their fate in Syria, we number ourselves among them. We buy our illusion of safety at the price of our humanity. Because the reality is, we are no safer for our refusal to help the victims. We are in constant danger regardless.

When attacks come, if we are marked to die, we should at least be buried in hallowed ground. We should cry out our defiance. We should plant flowers on the graves of our fears.

We should shelter the refugees.

We are still, above all, the home of the brave.

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Photo credit: Bengin Ahmad / Foter.com /CC BY-ND