President Obama’s moment: Confronting our culture of violence


In my opinion, Wednesday, January 17, 2013, will go down as President Obama’s John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King moment.

It took an immense amount of courage for him, January 16, 2013, to confront our nations culture of violence, particularly the fringe – it’s really only a fringe – which worships the unrestricted “right to bear arms” – all and any kinds of arms.

(The Second Amendment, ratified Dec. 15, 1791, says this in its entirety “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The reader can, of course, choose which words to emphasize…or ignore…in that amendment.)

President Obama, his supporters, advisers and the Secret Service, know the personal risks of what he did yesterday.

I believe President Kennedy, and I know Martin Luther King, knew the risks of witness for a better society and world. They both fell to rifle shots from hatred, 1963 and 1968.

Any of us around then – I was a school teacher when the announcement over the intercom came that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas – know more than we want to know about how hatred and threats such as we are now seeing spewed by folks tend to trickle down to madmen who are more than willing to do the dirty work of killing the messenger. The NRA is, I believe, wittingly facilitating this hatred.

The vast majority of us, I believe, are with the President on his initiative to change the sick system which enabled Newtown and other tragedies.

But we can’t be sitting quietly in the background in our circles as this debate moves forward.

We need to supportively encircle the President and help him move forward in the many ways available to us. We need, particularly, to support our legislators who support change, and encourage those who are reluctant to see a civilized world in a different way than through a gun sight.

Yes, this is a complex issue.

Personally, I don’t own or plan to own a weapon, but neither am I anti-gun for the traditional uses I grew up with. Gun ownership is a privilege with great responsibility. Sadly, legislation is about the only way to increase responsibility.

I see something of a continuum in the debate which is now officially beginning.

At one end of the continuum is true religious model, best stated in the “beat their swords into plowshares” citation (Isaiah 2:3-4). Arbitrarily, I’ll call that end zero.

At the other end is the “man’s home is his castle” philosophy which, played out to its illogical end, allows anybody to do anything with any killing device. I’ll call that ten.

Somewhere in between those poles is common sense in a “free State”, as stated in that Second Amendment.

We are – all of us – the “State” referred to in that Second Amendment. We are “the people”.

The collective “we, the people of the United States” share responsibility to “insure domestic Tranquility” (the Preamble of the Constitution), and tranquility doesn’t come at the end of a gun.

(On that continuum, above, I’d put myself at a four or less.)

Our World is our Castle.

We all live together in that Castle. We depend on each other; not only on ourselves.

Get involved, and don’t quit. Be willing to negotiate, but carefully. It is hard to negotiate with someone who refuses to negotiate.

On this and other issues, learn both sides and stick with it. It’s a crucial issue at a crucial time.

Here’s the complete U.S. Constitution: Constitution of U.S.001

Recent previous posts on this topic are here, here and here.