In my last two posts (three if you include the book review) I have done my best to indicate that while I disagree with you, I do hear what you’re saying. I’m now asking, do you hear me?
In a surprising turn of events for me, whereas I initially wanted to effectively smear your claim, I have instead concluded that at the root of your claim, you are calling for the law. This is a very reasonable claim, a very humane claim. But there is a problem with it.
You think these shootings, the school ones especially, evidence that we are living in a state of chaos–in some situation similar to that which is before the law–and you desire to do something about it.
However, the law is already here. We are not in a state of chaos in the United States of America. Several hundred, perhaps even one thousand people have broken the law in the last twenty years in ways that previously seemed unimaginable. This is new, yes, but it is not chaos.
Hear me now. These events do not indicate that we have returned to the state of nature. They do not even indicate that we are in a trajectory towards the return to the state of nature.
Do you hear me? I’m asking you to listen. I listened to you. It’s the least you can do.
The law is not determined by elections. You (meaning literally you, the person reading this, and not meaning the generic “anyone”), you cannot vote the law out or in.
What to do?
The only option you have is to amend the Constitution of the United States of America, and that is a very real option which I do believe we (you and I–folks who disagree) should examine through civil discourse. But I wonder if you even know how it is done? If you do not, then you definitely are in no position to accomplish this possibly desirable task.
I know you don’t want to hear this, but I say this is the only option you have because I believe that every other option is anarchy–a subversive dismantling of the law. And this dismantling is a step in the opposite direction of what you want if you really want to keep certain firearms out of the hands of civilians while in the hands of the warriors.
In pictures from the marches, I saw a sign which said, “America, the world is watching.”
Do you hear them?
If you amend the Constitution, then we follow the footsteps and stand on the shoulders of our founders and teach the watching world the law. If you pass any other legislation–any whatsoever–then we demonstrate that we do not value the law. This, again, is the opposite of what you have said you desire.
And this is the precise point of disagreement.
Do you hear me?
The amendment is the precise point because I am confused by why you think there is any other option. I will listen and read anything you have which you think will help me see your point more clearly. I want the shootings to stop as much as you do.
Do you hear me?
By most accounts, I am not even “old,” and yet I feel old enough to say it is time to take the gloves off. I want to maintain what grammarians might call a syntax of gentleness, but truth is important too. This might be more true than gentle. We’ll see.
First: You’re a sucker, or what Jesus called a sheep, if you think the Bible has anything to say one way or the other about gun control. Just sayin.’ It is not pro-gun anymore than it is anti-gun. In fact, in all my reading of the Bible, in the words of three different languages and many more different dialects of English, I have never come across the word gun. Let this first point, then, be a lesson from a friend: don’t play the fool.
Second: The Bible is most certainly pro-death and it is most certainly anti-death. We die. All of us. If any written words have ever been indubitably aware of this fact, they are found in the Bible. This is a good thing. Only upon understanding this situation can we begin to see the invisible, to see the spiritual.
Third: One way– *one*–that I, the-looking-through-the-dim-mirror-sheep-that-I-am, view the school shootings is through the story in the end of the book of Judges wherein some Israelite’s concubine was raped and abused through the night by men from another tribe of Israelites with whom they were staying, presumably for safety. She ends up dead, lying at the threshold of the man’s door in the morning. He then chops her up into twelve pieces and sends a piece to each of the twelve tribes of Israel and the recipients say, “Nothing like this has ever happened or been seen from the day when the sons of Israel came up from the land of Egypt to this day. Consider it, take counsel and speak up!” At this, civil war was the determination. The LORD did not spare his own people.
The reason that comes to mind is because of the emphasis it has on that the atrocity was committed by their own people–their own family, as it were. While our culture isn’t as segmented by bloodlines as those ancient cultures, I am comfortable with saying that when some current or former student murders his own classmates, in his own town etc. that it is similar enough to be meaningfully the same.
A lot of you like to say, “History repeats itself.” Or, “Those ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it.” Bullocks, I say. History does not repeat itself, nor are any two situations ever the same. But the LORD is righteous and he will not tolerate sin for forever. Accordingly, from today forward we can give future historians the data they need to record how these shootings turned out to be the preamble to civil war (or the less extreme, more simple crumbling of Western civilization), or we can give future historians the data they need to record how these shootings turned out to be the warnings we heeded to return to the LORD. The future has never been done before. I say let’s return to the LORD. (The Bible does talk about this being welcomed by him–every time.)
To the Victims of the Aurora Theater Shooting:
“If I had my way they’d take metal altogether out of this world. Every blade, every gun,” says Natalie Portman’s character in the classic film “Cold Mountain.” Maybe I’m just a sucker for movies, but when I watch that one–and that scene in particular–an “Amen!” or “Preach it!” escapes my lips before I know it. I can only imagine that you feel the same way.
I’m writing this letter to you today because I want you to know that I do not believe a letter like this is what is needed at the moment. But, at the moment, I have to write a letter for a class and I wanted to write to you. I’ve been taking undergraduate courses in writing recently, and a large part of writing is rhetoric. Rhetoric is the term used to describe the tools writers use to affect their audience. I’m told a writer uses rhetoric—these tools–to persuade people to agree with him. Sometimes the use of rhetoric isn’t deliberate, sometimes it is very deliberate. Like I said, though, I don’t believe words, especially not the words on this page, can help me persuade you to believe anything at the moment. “So why the letter?” you may ask.
As you know, Colorado, in large part because of the tragic events of July 20, 2012, is currently in the spotlight of a larger movement across the nation. I’m talking, of course, about the state legislature’s recent revisit to its gun policy. There’s no denying that without guns July 20th—more importantly, your lives–would never have been tainted by this unbearable act. Just the same, I can’t help but wonder if changes are being made too quickly.
Here’s what I’m proposing: For the last year I’ve been hosting a dinner series of sorts at my home. I’d like to invite you over to the one scheduled for July 20, 2014. If you can believe it, July 20th is my birthday. As July 20, 2012 approached I’d been excitedly anticipating the movie for a year, knowing it was coming out on my birthday. My brother can confirm that I bawled on the phone that morning as I heard the news. I had called him to discuss whether we should still see the movie that night. He was on I-70, driving to Denver from Kansas City so we could see the movie together as a birthday present. This July 20–July 20, 2014–I’m inviting you to a dinner at my home. The dinner will be a place where we will share ourselves. You don’t know me yet, but rest assured that disrespect has no place at my home. I want to know what you think, and I would like to share some thoughts with you as well.
So, what do you say? I have a little saying that I stole from the Oracle of another blockbuster trilogy: “The only way to get there is together.” I believe my time in the Air Force allows me to own this phrase as it’s essentially the positive way of saying, “You don’t crash in compartments.” I feel like you and I are separated by more than space, and I don’t think that’s necessary or valuable. Please contact me if you agree and would like to join me for an event that your presence will enhance substantively.