….. Or not. Not really. Our media would have you believe that somehow your rights are being regulated, mitigated, slashed open and tossed out a window to litter the snow in your front yard like so many pairs of underwear. Instead, what is on display is not your underwear, but something similar – your deep insecurities. OUR deep insecurities.
Our insecurity regarding how to keep our family safe and our body safe.
Our insecurity regarding what will happen when the zombie apocolypse begins.
Our insecurity regarding being able to make our home a safe place, our neighborhood and church and movie theater, our country.
What is true though, and what is real, is that your gun will not keep you safe, it will not fill the hole inside of you that believes you are not enough. Its a hole we all have, you can argue with me and say that you don’t, and that’s ok, but we all have tender and broken places, places where we have been shattered and not come back together quite right. Its ok to admit this, because it is true.
No one is infringing upon your rights, no one is going door to door collecting firearms in a gunny sack. What is happening is that the president is trying to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them by making background checks mandatory. That is all. And so if you can legally own a gun…I’m scratching my head here, at a loss over what the hue and cry is about, if you can legally own one and pass that background check, if you aren’t documented as being sixty shades east of crazy… then go buy a gun.
What is happening is that we live in a fear fueled culture, we are always onto the next crisis, onto the next terrible thing that is happening and, most importantly, how it impacts YOU. I’m sitting here in my little office (read: front entry nook) and Casey is watching CNN, and I have heard Wolf Blitzer say the word impact probably ten times in so many minutes.
We must stop being afraid.
I know this easy to type, harder to live. I know that, I am the girl who cried in front of a group of people and admitted a weakness so profound, that I was scared to go to the movies. I am the girl who drops her little off every day and looks at her face and tells her she loves her, because what if this is the last time? What if, today, some (probably white Christian male) storms the front office and shoots children in our elementary school? What if the questing arms of a teacher who I know loves her, what if they cannot reach her?, cannot save her?
I am well acquainted with fear.
But I go to the movies sometimes, and I send her off to school every day. Because I try so hard not to be afraid, not to live that way, not to let fear and terror and hate WIN.
Fear drove back Jewish refugees from our shores, where many of them were killed in Nazi concentration camps. Fear rounded up Japanese citizens and put them in work camps, fear walked beside weeping mothers on the Trail of Tears, prodded their backs, drove them on.
You could say, I suppose, that fear drives the president to act in the way that he has. But in this case, we are called to justice, not to fear. We are called to justice for the college kids killed on campus, justice for the littles just like my Ave, and for the teachers who threw down their own lives to protect those precious charges. Justice for every single shooting in Chicago.
We are called, friends, not to fear, but to justice.
No one is taking anything from you that you didn’t have before. You have the same right to keep and to bear arms that you had this morning, and yesterday morning, and the day before. You have the right.
What the president pointed out was that all of us also have the right to peaceful assembly. The first amendment guarantees me the right to write this post, though you may shake your head and wish I’d go watch CNN instead. It also gave the folks in Ferguson the right to assemble. The Declaration of Independence guarantees the right to the pursuit of liberty, life and happiness. What I am unsure is how we should react when these streams of thought intersect.
I feel that the restrictions are as fair as the fact that I have to go sit at the DMV for two hours and pay $140 to drive a car on my birthday EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. Because even though I am not guaranteed the right to drive a car, it is a right that we all sort of take for granted, fees and waiting and lines included.
I do not want or need to own a gun, but if I did, I don’t have an issue with a background check. And I don’t have an issue with a waiting period. As I am sure many of you do not, but this media machine of fear drives us all forward.
To the next crisis.
To the next social medial war with people we don’t even know.
What if we had taken the Jewish refugees? What if we had accepted those people and let them live here? We couldn’t take every single one of the SIX MILLION PEOPLE that died. We couldn’t. But we could have taken the nine hundred or so who floated in circles between Cuba and Florida, who eventually were returned to Europe. We could have opened our hands and taken that many.
But we were afraid.
There are all sorts of crazy numbers being bandied about regarding how many Syrian refugees we will take, when the facts are more modest. Not 250,000 as one wild haired blow hard would suggest, not even 100,000. 8,500 is the more accurate number, and not all of those will be from Syria. They will be like my dear friend and neighbor, who fled political unrest in Venezuela, and they will also be families fleeing the same terror that we are afraid of.
When we talk about our gun rights being infringed on, when we talk about turning people away, when we talk about building a wall, can’t we slow down for a moment, can’t we breathe, look about us. Can’t we see our warm and comfortable homes, however tenuously held? Can’t we see the food we have to feed our children, the pile of winter coats and boots, the brightly colored homework folders on the table? Can’t we feel the heat that pours out of our furnaces and the hot water in the bath of a seven year old? Feel the fabric of your couch, stroke it with your fingers.
Move up to your shirt, feel the buttons there, this shirt that has kept you warm today.
Look in the garage and see the shining and ready steed parked and ready to ferry to to your next destination.
Chew your food, taste your food.
We have what we need.
We don’t need this fear that drives us on, drives us in the quest to find something else wrong. This fear that makes us cast about, looking for supposed wrongs, for rights infringed upon.
I don’t know what the answers are, I really really don’t.
What I know is that you have your gun.
I know you can buy another one, you just might have to wait a little bit. But where’s the fire? What’s your hurry?
I know that my blue eyed little girls have a right to be safe at school. And the teachers who love them do too.
And I don’t know how to reconcile those things for you. I don’t know how to make it fair.
I love you still.
I am working. I am working on me, on my type 8 enneagram result. I am working on not steam rolling all the people into one corner and leaving them there while I make all the decisions and do all the work.
But these are problems I can’t fix. I can’t make it seem fair to you that we would accept little children from South America and Mexico who have no place to go. I can’t make it fair for you that we would accept people who are living in fear for their lives ALL THE TIME. And I can’t make it fair that, as far as I am concerned, the right of my child to be safe in her classroom supersedes your right to buy a gun right this hot minute.
Let’s think on these things. Let’s handle them carefully. Let’s be gentle with each other, realizing the vulnerability that is on display, how we are showing people the weak spots in our armor when we speak of these things.
Let us be tender.
Happy New Year.