Another school shooting. There have been 74 school shootings since Newtown. One every five weeks. And the national response? A mixture of anguish and grief on the one hand and an insistence that the right to bear arms is absolute and without restriction on the other.
Another school shooting. It’s the way things are. The new “norm.”
In the film Babe there is a dialog between Babe, Ferdinand the duck and Cow. They have just realized that Rosanna the duck has been taken by the Hoggett family to be roasted for their dinner. Initially Babe thought they had taken Ferdinand. Here’s the dialog.
Babe: [relieved that he's alive] Ferdinand!
Cow: If you're out here, who's that in there?
Ferdinand: [aghast] Her name's Rosanna.
[They watch the Hoggett family carve the roast duck]
Ferdinand: Why Rosanna? She - she had such a beautiful nature.
Babe: Oh, Ferdinand...
Ferdinand: I can't take it anymore.
Cow: [disapprovingly] Really.
Ferdinand: The fear's too much for a duck. It - it eats away at the soul! There must be kinder dispositions in far-off gentler lands.
Cow: The only way you'll find happiness is to accept that the way things are is the way things are.
Ferdinand: 'The way things are' stinks! I'm not gonna be a goner, I'm gone! I wish all of you the best of luck.
I’ve shared this because I think the way things are, especially when it comes to gun violence, the way things are stinks.
Please do not misunderstand. I do believe in the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. What I do not believe is that the right ought to be unrestricted. We’ve all heard the arguments pro and con. In the meantime children are dying in our schools. From gun violence. And it’s not like the perpetrators had obtained guns illegally. Nope. Legally bought.
And the belief that having guns will be a safeguard against gun violence? Tell that to the families of the two police officers who were gunned down in Las Vegas this week. The officers were armed.
No more excuses. No more prattle. No more flag waving and false patriotism. No more catering to those who have stretched the 2nd Amendment in the belief that our greatest enemy is the federal government and that we need to protect ourselves from them at all costs. That’s what Timothy McVeigh thought. Remember him? He blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City. Killed over 200 people including 19 babies and children in the day care center there. No more.
As an ordained minister the question I’m most asked is, “What can we do?!” The issue, and the normalization of gun violence seems to be, simply put, the way things are.
From a Judeo-Christian perspective the way things are is not the vision God has for the way things will be. The prophetic tradition of Judaism is clear about the vision God has for the world. One can read a summation of the vision in Isaiah (see 2:4 and chapter 11) and Micah (see 4:3-4 ).
Christians have Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount found in the Gospel of Matthew (chapters 5-7). The core of his sermon is the practice of non-violence and ways to practice non-violence.
You see, in Jesus’ time he thought the way things were stunk too. Same with Isaiah and Micah. They spoke out. And at times, and in places, their words have been heard and heeded. Then AND now.
But it’s not enough. We need more voices. Reasonable voices. Thoughtful voices. Voices who truly advocate for the common good. Where are they? We need them.
Because the way things are stinks.