Twenty new little stars: Christmas and the vulnerability of children

We need to see the stars, and and focus their light on the work to be done. Let’s work together to do what we can to ensure this can’t continue to happen.

#OTB

Do there seem to be 20 new little stars twinkling in the sky during this dark Christmas season? You have to look carefully, because this is a time of national grief, when seeing any light at all in the darkness can seem difficult, perhaps even impossible.

A woman kneels in front of a fence with the names of the 20 children killed a week ago at a memorial at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 21, 2012. (EPA)

Jesus came into the world as a vulnerable little child. This very vulnerability of Jesus as a baby teaches us something fundamental about the depth of meaning contained in the idea of “God-with-us” as taught through the Christian Gospels.

The risks [of the vulnerability of children] are so awful. How can we bear it as those who love children and want to protect them? Every day, there are…

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Right Does Not Have To Mean Easy

The last several days have been ones of hard thinking for me. First because it amazes me how divergent we can be in our thinking when it comes to certain things, and second because I’ve had to admit to myself that my own views on things are not always as solid as I think they are. I realize as I write that this is a good thing.

Lets consider the tragedy in Newtown, CT last Friday. My gut reaction, as it was across the country and around the world, was one of horror and shock. My initial concern was for those 20 young boys and girls, and the 6 educators that were killed that morning. I vowed later that same day, that the immediate influx of headlines about gun control and poor mental health care were wrong, and that we needed to first learn about and mourn for the victims and their families.

I held that belief until sometime a couple of days later, probably later Sunday, when I was almost wholly consumed with the thought that guns are the problem, and that along with fixing how we care for the broken among us, we can’t lose sight of the fact that people owning guns is wrong. I was thinking that we needed to remove guns. Period.

Today, after prayerful reflection, reading the words of friends on both “sides” of the “gun” issue, and listening to others I respect, I am not so certain about that.

I personally believe that there is no good reason to own a gun today. I do not hunt, target shoot, etc. I have no fear, grounded or otherwise that I am likely to be threatened. And I will not give into the idea that threats are commonplace and we all need to arm ourselves. That said, I am, at this moment, not ready to take everyone’s guns away.

I would take away immediately, the right to own any weapon capable of holding more than 6 rounds. I would take away the right to own accessories or equipment that make it possible to fire more than a single round with each trigger pull. I would take away the right to own military style weapons and equipment. I would take away the right to own scopes or vision enhancing equipment.

I would require every weapon to be licensed by an adult aged 21 or older. I would require a license for each weapon, to a maximum of 2 per registrant. Each license would require a 30 day waiting period, after having taken and passed written, oral, and weapons qualification tests, and after providing a statement from medical and mental health professionals that the licensee is sound physically and mentally at the time.

Each license would need to be renewed every year. Any violation of civil or criminal statutes would result in immediate revocation of the licenses, and immediate forfeiture of all weapons licensed. If convicted, these forfeitures are permanent. No carry permits would be issued, and transport of weapons require the weapons to be contained in secure safes.

To start with.

I’m sure there are holes in everything I wrote, and arguments for why I’m a genius and an idiot both. I’m happy to oblige everyone.

As to me, I am a veteran of military service and managed to qualify as an expert marksman with the M16A1 rifle. I am a husband. I am a parent. A former Scout leader and current soccer coach. I identify as a Progressive Episcopal Christian in matters of religion and faith. I enjoy action films and video games, understanding them to be fiction. I’m on the fence about their contribution to good or evil.

It may be our right, but it can’t be easy. Remember Newtown. What we do for the least of us, we do for all of us.

Fiscal Cliff: Notes

It troubles me how we are so involved in holding up the powerful few and their organizations as the greatest hope we have, when in reality, and I believe history proves also, it is exactly this sort of hard heartedness and greed that has perpetuated their ability to grab power and wealth away from the normal citizen. I don’t fault a single living (or dead) soul for aspiring to wealth and comfort. I do. But at some point, aren’t we expected to also understand what is enough, and to work to help those less fortunate by providing them care and assistance?

Government is not absolved of its obligation to care for its neediest simply because the purse holders desire instead to raise monuments, libraries, and armies as testament to how great they are instead of re-distributing (yes, exactly as it sounds) the bounty to those who wish only enough to eat and a warm place to live. It’s obligation remains; to provide enough to help everyone live with a bit of dignity. Not cash hand-outs for the sake of them, but enough through programs to raise skill levels and teach people how to work, create, and raise their families. Tax adjustments and credits for productive work. Etcetera. Just enough. Enough.

The trouble is, in my opinion, that we’re confronted by a machine that has no interest in celebrating anything like a re-distribution if it means including the unlucky. The forums, symposiums, clinics, and other gatherings called to discuss debt and taxes, have as bedrock, the caveat that, if it will require removing the entitlements the rich and powerful enjoy, then it’s a non-starter. We need to stop encouraging and enabling this if it’s ever going to change. We need to talk about shame and greed at the corporate level. We need to expose the greed and misdeeds done in our name.

We need to remove the sense of entitlement that the corporation holds up as essential, and
give it back to the individual. As much concern needs to be shown the people of this earth
as is shown the wealth they create and stockpile for the powerful few in control. We need to spread concern for each person born out beyond the moment of birth. We need to realize that everyone on this planet would be a working, productive part of society, if that society were not built to justify it’s premiums by engineering injustice, crime, and poverty to perpetuate itself. The sense of entitlement is fiction, created by greed. We need to change that.

I’m not sure how this is done, and I’m hardly the guy to even be thinking about it. But as a whole, we need to. We must. Every second, of every minute, of every hour of every day, someone unlucky enough to be born into poverty and injustice, continues to die unseen and unknown by the many. And in each of those same seconds, the more fortunate among us, add sums they can’t spend to their coffers, in the name of a “dream”. I have a different dream, obviously.

I dream of a world where everyone starts nearly level. Of course some will have more, and some will have less. Some will be able to afford nicer things. Eat in better restaurants. Go to better schools. Give back more to their institutions and have their names on buildings. Of course. But the dream also demands that enough be given back to help the others. Enough.

That’s all. Just. Enough.