The recent tragedy in Connecticut coming as it has at the time of year where so many of us, across many religions and traditions focus on peace and the holy nature of family and children and beloved friends, has opened up a tidal wave of raw emotions. Anger and fear and frustration and grief all washing over us like waves upon the shore.
Despite my initial gut reaction to the partisan posts that started flooding my media stream, to caution against comment and to encourage a time of prayer and grief... I have ended up in many conversations with folks…. mainly over on Facebook. Heck, that same day I found myself trying to engage others in dialogue about the question of what can be done? I have needed to speak, to hear, to question and to seek some spark of wisdom or meaning or healing in conversation with others.
Violence prevention in general needs to be a part of the national discussion in the United States, as do better gun safety laws, and a serious look at the need for a better mental health safety net in our nation.
Sadly, the nuances of these important and complicated conversations is getting lost in the tides of partisan arguments related to Gun Control vs. Gun Rights.
It seems like folks are more interested in scoring political/rhetorical points from the extremes of the gun control/gun rights crowds, OR are more interested in retreating from discussion of the complexities of this issue out of grief or frustration, than they are interested trying to solve what seems like an increasing plague of violence in our nation.
I think that all too often partisan rhetoric and predatory snarkastic point making has replaced productive dialogue in the public discourse. Living in an environment where such partisan or bad behavior is the norm, we get sucked or perhaps suckered into behaving in that way.
We need to encourage, engage in, and model a more productive discussion on the issues of Gun Safety, Violence Prevention, and Mental Health care.
Discussion, argument, and disagreement on an issue need not equal enmity folks.
I think we can respect the solemnity of this moment AND begin conversations that can bring both healing and perhaps some solutions.
It is difficult work, Work in the sacred sense even. Requiring a willingness to speak our minds and hearts, be vulnerable, and to truly Listen to what those we disagree with are saying and expressing… damn difficult work.
One of the challenges is that true and deep listening requires the willingness to change ones mind or opinion…the willingness to listen with the entirety of our beings… the willingness to be open to new ideas or to be influenced by reason. All too often our culture has come to view that openness as weakness or insincerity.
I believe that we are capable of better than that, that we could engage in constructive and productive dialogue about the issues raised by the Connecticut School Shooting, and all to many tragedies like it, while still respecting the solemnity of the moment and the grief of the families of the fallen and their communities.
There are those who will immediately think that I want to rip the guns out of everyone’s hands, not so much.
I will freely admit I don’t know much about guns. I’ve shot them a few times, pistol and rifle in a few target practices with family or friends. I don’t own one currently mainly due to budget concerns and the fact that I would want excellent instruction in gun safety, shooting, and maintenance before I had one in my home or hands. But as someone who stands against 1 man 1 woman marriage laws because they seek to limit my potential for rights under the U.S. Constitution, can I honestly be willing to cast aside my potential for rights under the Second Amendment?
There are those, touched by a deep and genuine grief, who will not want to start these difficult conversations because they do not want to further or impinge upon the grief of others.
I am not a parent, and given income and age will probably never be one. I am an Uncle, and have been a family friend of a child…. a part of me asks, “What if one of them is next?”
I find myself thinking of the fallen, the dead, from this horrible event. I posted the other day that the day the news broke, as I was listening to the news, I was making my regular Household and Ancestral offerings. I also offered incense to the spirits of the dead in Connecticut. I have never heard the voices of the Honored or Beloved or Mighty Dead… but I cannot help but think that at times like this They are a united chorus urging those of us who would honor Them to do something to end this!
What could hold more honor? What could more exemplify the quest for excellence? Why should we not start the difficult work or trying to make the world a better and safer and happier and healthier place every damn chance we can? Surely we can find ways to respect the solemnity of this moment and at the same time work to see that things like this become a historical anomaly?
Let us speak to how we can honor the fallen of the many massacres, honor our Ancestors, and Honor our Gods by bringing our values to bear on this plague of violence our society is facing.