After The Prayers

Non violence sculpture by Carl Fredrik ReuterswärdI know almost nothing about guns and murder, death and dying, justice, or crime. My usual experience, like yours, in all of these things is peripheral, save for the times in our lives when these realities came near. We lose a loved one – a parent, a sibling, a spouse, or a dear friend and we are thrust into the vortex of sorrows. Once there, we may question our faith, embrace or curse our respective gods, contemplate the meaning of our existence, or curse that as well, as we struggle to make it through just one more day, until we can return our lives to some level of normalcy.

The majority of the time, we are distant observers. One tragic death somewhere else in the world is closely followed by another. The circumstances of each are as awful as they are senseless.

There is no reason that we should expect to find reason in death, yet we do.

We look for reason and find nothing, so we turn to others, most often religious leaders, to provide it. Failing that, we make it up ourselves. Usually the reasons that we settle on have something to do with God’s will or some other nebulous explanation.

When the scale of the tragedy – the sum of the body count, the deviousness of the crime, or the demographic of the victims – is horrendous or shocking enough to assault our sensibilities and garner our collective attention, we participate in a sort of mass hypnosis.

Your god, my god, no god, it doesn’t matter. Each irrational configuration of facts and beliefs adds to the delusion. Our emotions are stranded in a wasteland of incomprehension. Nothing that we think to do seems particularly helpful, so we offer prayers, moments of silence, donations, rants, and support. We try to translate our feelings of dread into something positive. If we are successful, it may bring us comfort, but at what cost?

Comfort breeds conformity.

Whether we find relief from the sorrows in an ancient text, the beauty of a sunset, or a preacher’s words, it’s a personal journey. I would never try to deprive anyone of these things – these closely held beliefs that guide us and help us to try to make sense in a senseless world, that help us to find a balance between the evil with the good, that allow us to see hope in a time of hopelessness. They are yours to use as you wish to ease your burdens.

It’s none of my business.

But when those beliefs are used to make policy, it becomes my business. We should never allow the voices of those who would inject dogma into the national discussion to influence policy.

  • When the memory of slaughtered children is used as proof that removing god from our schools is to blame, I say, “No!”
  • When we are asked to throw up our hands in despair and do nothing about the proliferation of guns in our society because the death of those children in Connecticut is god’s will, I say, “No!”

We all know that gun violence has been a problem in America long before now, as I wrote in response to Wendy’s heartfelt post “Thoughts on Friday’s Events” following the Newtown shootings:

I’m a country bumpkin now, but I grew up in some pretty rough neighborhoods. From that vantage point, gun violence has always been a problem, because I lived in the midst of it. A thousand deaths a year, every year, in NYC should have been enough to draw attention to the problem years ago. It wasn’t. Perhaps this tragedy will.

There are things that we can do to try to stem the violence, but we have to be willing to do more than pray to get there. People often disdain regulation. They see it as an infringement of their rights. The introduction of helmet laws for bikers, seat belts, anti-smoking efforts were all met with resistance. While not perfect solutions, there’s no denying that these efforts have saved lives. Why should the regulation of guns be any different? We must let our elected leaders know that what we have now is not working. It will never work.

My initial reaction upon hearing about Newtown last Friday was to lash out, to point fingers, to look for a villain. A week later, it’s hard to shake the sense that the world is a terrible place. NRA Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre’s soulless comments yesterday, bolsters that belief. For him to purport to have meaningful input on Newtown while excluding guns altogether is tone deaf at best and a diabolical attempt to stoke fear and swell his organization’s ranks at worst.

If I am to fear my neighbors, then I ought to be prepared to do battle. How else am I supposed to protect my family? That is the lunacy of LaPierre’s more-guns-is-the-answer stance. If I don’t participate, I am, in effect, shirking my responsibilities.

This almost makes me want to go out and buy a gun, which I suspect is exactly what the endgame is.

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Ray Colon

He works with numbers for a living, but don't judge - boring accountants need love too. His blog has no niche (unless writing about things that are important to him is a niche). Some folks cringe when he gets “all political” on them, but he does it anyway when he's in that kind of mood. Sometimes, he writes something nice about someone, but you shouldn't get used to that. His first book, the one he hasn't written yet, is not available on Amazon. Subscribe to Ray's Blog via RSS  or Email.

16 thoughts on “After The Prayers”

  1. I agree with you all the way Ray, I don’t have a clue what the answer is but that is no excuse to ignore the problem… And to pretend that you can have that discussion without talking about gun laws is crazy!

    1. Hi Howard,

      Nice to see you here. As far as coming up with a definitive answer, like you, I don’t have a clue, but I think that we should be willing to try some level of disarmament. I’m not a hunter, but I suspect that the idea behind bagging a deer is not to tear it to shreds with a hailstorm of gunfire. We could start there.

  2. I agree with the previous commenter. Thanks for your honesty in this post.

    We are human, we are probably never going to get it right. All we can do is try our best and keep trying to make things better. Never give up. The world is an evil place with evil people. No, not everyone is bad. But honestly, just one bad person is enough to make us all worry and sad.

    Keep trying to make things better, never give up!
    Keith recently posted..Lisa Belkins’ Post Let Dads DownMy Profile

    1. Hi Keith,

      Thank you. The honesty part is easy; making a compelling argument seems to be much harder. Yes, we humans are flawed beings, but I think that it’s our humanity that should compel us to err on the side of caution. Unfortunately, what seems clear to me is viewed as outrageous by many others. Despite the obstacles, I’ll continue as you suggest and not give up.

  3. It’s a problem for which I feel there is not easy solution. It seems easy to me, but then again I have a black and white perspective on this particular topic. Thank you for you honesty and passion, Ray.
    Brenda recently posted..Remembering YouMy Profile

    1. Thanks, Brenda,

      You’re right, an easy solution would be great, but it’s unfortunate that it’s unrealistic for either one of us to expect one. K.I.S.S. doesn’t seem to apply when talking guns. I’d be satisfied, for the moment, to at least see some movement in the right direction — the direction that tries to save lives. Let’s see if our legislators, “Make my day”.

  4. I love the way you tackled this subject. It’s a slightly different angle than any other post that I’ve seen. Although, as a combat soldier I may not agree with you entirely I am positive that ignoring the issue will not work. If you would like to read my thoughts check out this post.
    Theron Bostic recently posted..The nation stops to mourn….and wonder why?My Profile

    1. Hi Theron,

      Thank you. It’s always a challenge to try to approach current news items from a different perspective.

      Total agreement is rare, so I invite opposing views. It’s the only way that a real conversation can occur. I’ve read your post and left my comments there. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

  5. Going out and buying a gun is a fear response in the same way as decades back a neighbour where we used to live (he was a pathologist) went to an exhibition of smokers cancerous lungs (I presume photos!) and it made him so anxious that he started smoking again having just given it up.

    The trouble is that human nature being what it is, if you were to remove all guns (and I do think their access should be regulated) anyone intent on killing would find some other way. I agree that guns should be regulated or removed, but it’s not going to solve the problem that we human beings are really not that evolved yet.
    Val recently posted..Happy New Year – I’m POP! ularMy Profile

    1. Hi Val,

      I’m not getting your opening comparison unless you’re saying that people sometimes do irrational things when they’re anxious. We certainly do.

      I’ve noticed a lot more stories of accidental gun deaths in the media. I know that the media tends to focus on the “hot” topic, so I’m sure that these accidents have been happening all along, but just weren’t as widely covered. The fact that I didn’t know that these accidents were so prevalent doesn’t lessen the notion that they should not be occurring at all. A lot of the recent victims have been children.

      “…we human beings are really not that evolved yet.” Oh Val, how I would love to be able to disagree with this sentiment; but sadly, I can’t.

      If in the absence of guns, evil-doers will find another way to inflict harm, I say, I’m okay with that. Lets try it. I suspect that the substitute weapons that they acquire will result in less mayhem.

      1. I was actually referring to your ending sentence: “This almost makes me want to go out and buy a gun, which I suspect is exactly what the endgame is.” I was just thinking that the fear response is often to something which people already know is not what will help them.
        Val recently posted..If Cheese Had WingsMy Profile

        1. Hi Val,

          Ah yes, of course, I see where you were going with that now. Thanks for the clarification.

          My neighbor across the street came over a couple of weeks ago to tell my wife and I about a suspicious character that she had spotted the night before. I wondered why she hadn’t called us while it was happening. If you’ve ever seen the movie, Death Becomes Her, it reminded me of that scene where Meryl Streep is handed a potion that will make her look younger. After she drinks it, the woman who gave it to her says, “Now a warning.” Streep incredulously replies, “NOW a warning?”

          My neighbor went on to boast about the number of guns in her house and how her children knew where they were kept, so that they could shoot an intruder. She said it with such glee that it seemed to me that she was almost looking forward to experiencing that situation.

          I told my wife that we should practice hitting-the-deck in order to avoid our neighbor’s stray bullets.

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