A Week Past - A Time of Contemplation


O lay aside each earthly thing
And with thy heart as offering,
Come worship now the infant King.
'Tis love that's born tonight!

 From -"Some Children See Him" by Alfred Burt
I have turned off my Pandora and have spent the last severalminutes trying to clear my mind of all intrusions into my thoughts in order to write something meaningful about the recent tragedy in Connecticut.

I cannot say for sure if this blog will be published and if not – that’s ok. The last thing I want is to make waves.

Things have been bubbling in my mind like an overheated pot for a while and a few days ago they boiled over in what I can only explain as a foolish and angry rant by a silly old man.  It took place during a meeting of our couple’s prayer group that was hosted at our house on Tuesday night.

During the conversation, something snapped and, though my wife tried to gently talk me down, I lost it.

I became something that I have always felt sorry for – a person who lets his emotions rule his sense of responsibility and fairness.

It was like a vocal letter to the editor with every other word capitalized. It was a rant demonizing something I knew only a little about and with not enough sense to put my brain in gear before engaging my mouth.

Dad with coffee cup

Anger and hostility should not define who we are, but I am afraid had you heard me, you would have thought less of me after my temper tantrum.

There is widening gulf in America between those who look for hope and change and those who would cling to decent moral values, a traditional society that rewards hard work and conservative thought. And what a shame; because these are things which should dwell comfortably side by side

I turned seventy a couple of weeks back and for as long as I can remember it has been my observation that we live in a world that only possesses a few absolute black and white answers to life’s questions. In fact I have always felt a certain admiration to those who see only few shades of gray.

Abortion – right to life – capital punishment – equal opportunity – fairness to all; these are subjects that, for the most part, we can all agree upon, but, when 20 children were killed last week along with their teachers – something changed in all of us.

My first knee-jerk reaction was to scream at our lack of gun laws and to blast what I perceived to be a dangerous lobby.

Whoa! What was I thinking?

I have confession to make. I own a gun. I keep it in my closet. Unloaded. It is a JC Higgins single shot 20ga shotgun owned by my uncle, himself an avid hunter and fisherman who knew the woods and fields of New Hampshire better then most people know the back of their hands.

I hunted partridge in Vermont and squirrels and partridge in New Hampshire when I was a boy many years ago.

I spent over three years in the Army, with two years in Korea up near the DMZ. I spent hours in train-fire and earned my “Marksman” and “Sharpshooter” badges with the M1 Garand and .30 carbine as my weapon of choice. I am familiar with guns.

My library contains dozens of books on military history, weapons, small arms, tanks, planes and all the paraphernalia of war, because I have always been fascinated with the things we as a human race use to exterminate one another.

That makes my rant somewhat hypocritical.

There are good, honest, morally straight people who own handguns and semi-automatic weapons and believe deeply, I feel, that a well trained and armed citizen is a good, responsible citizen and that any restrictions on guns is a slippery slope that will lead to the suppression of constitutional rights by our government.

There are some who print facts about countries around the world who have armed citizens and it’s correlation to crime. And some, I’m afraid,  who go further – blaming everything on politics. 

 I apologize to all I might have offended in my remarks on line and in person. These past few days have brought a change in my thinking about guns and gun owners. While I still wonder why they feel the necessity for multi-round clips and assault weapons (for other then collectors) – I do feel they have right to their opinions and there are things they promote that we, as members of society, should listen to.

My only suggestions, other then discussing multi-round clips and assault rifles, is to close the loopholes in selling guns at gun shows without a background check and to tighten back-ground checks in general.

As for what happened at Sandy Hook, here is where black and white answers must be laid aside. Our society, a society which supports violence through the promotion of video games, television shows, movies, and the media in general must take a long look at itself. And that includes me. How long have I turned my back on what I watch or what I play and how I spend my leisure time?

There is a need for us as a culture to find our moral compass in religion and spirituality.  We must go back to faith or find a new one. A people who pray together are a people who can overcome evil just by standing as one against it.

And we must stop demonizing our leaders. We vote. Some folks don’t get elected. Some folks do – often the ones we voted against. It is my belief that the majority of those in national, state and local governments are honest folks who want to serve the citizens of this country.

Anyway – if I can change, even a little bit about the darkness that gathered around us recently – other folks can at least light a small candle and take a small step forward.  We need each other.

12/25/2012 3:12:53 PM

George, any great tragedy makes us dig deep into our selves to find an answer to why such things happen. I'm not sure that we as a people will ever come up with a black and white answer to that question. I do believe our culture is slowly moving away from the moral values and the integrity of our past generations. The spiritual guide lines are fading away which allows evil to rise up. I too do not believe that more gun control is the solution to the problem. It's a deeper rooted issue of society. I too am convinced the only solution is a return to the spiritual roots upon which this country founded. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Steven Gregersen
12/22/2012 9:47:50 PM

I agree completely that the root of the violence is spiritual. The fix, however, may be elusive. More gun laws will not solve the problem. Some nations such as Switzterland with higher gun ownership have less crime and some with lower gun ownership have more. If nothing else this should be evidence enough that guns, themselves, are not the problem. The propensity to harm our fellow citizens is the root problem. My biggest frustration with the gun control debate is that it's a red herring. Its a smoke screen that takes people's attention away from real solutions and fritters away time and energy that should be directed toward finding an effective way to reduce or stop occurances such as this. If we had worked on real solutions years ago then maybe those kids and teachers would be alive today.

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