Guns and M&Ms
In the midst of all the hustle and bustle of living, over the years people have been rudely taken out of their daily lifestyles to become the target of terrorism. People who had hurried past each other suddenly became part of a team they never wanted to be a part of, a team which now has a place in history. They have become the victims of policies that allow gun ownership to be too easy. Additionally we do not insist on responsible gun ownership and storage nor do we fund mental health programs from the simplest means such as available social workers in all schools to mental health clinics in every county.
In the book “Praying for Strangers”, author River Jordan states: “I can be a woman who prays for strangers but remains completely blind to their bruises.” How many people did you pass today? Now, answer me this: How many people did you really see? With all the sensory overload in our busy lives, we often become indifferent to the people around us, the people the inhabit our living.
In the final minutes of their lies, people often report that it is not the material things they have in their lives that matter. What matters are the people. The very people we often take for granted or simply seem to not see often give our life definition. People we may have ignored or simply have not really seen might just be the one thing that helps define our living.
We need to step out of our busy lives to really live. We need to share our living with others. Our blindness to those around us translates into inaction on our part in giving of our selves. What we forget is that by giving of ourselves, we give them the most precious thing – our attention. Writer Kathleen Norris talks about our lives having a liturgy of their own and that each life has a sacred rhythm unique to each of us. Far too often we go through our lives with the mute button pressed down when it comes to hearing the rhythm of those we love and care about.
Too many people go through their daily living with blinders on, not really seeing the person standing next to them. We share common ground and yet act as if we are alone. We should connect with those around us. For many, prayer is living, the action of being part of the whole because prayer connects us together. When we pray for someone we are giving them attention and creating a connection to ourselves.
An often heard response to the call for better gun legislation to prevent such violence as has occurred in the past three days with school shootings in the USA is the following mantra: “Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” If taken at face value, that sentence might seem like a true statement. The fact of the matter is that without the availability to guns, people cannot kill with a gun. Yesterday a student, a fifteen-year-old teenager walked into his school and injured more people than the number of years he had lived on this earth. Could he have hurt several with a knife? Maybe but certainly the odds of those injured and killed would have been much more in their favor if they had only to run from something being held that had a range of just an arm’s length.
Yesterday I bought some groceries which means I walked down at aisle in the market that had candy on it. Candy in and of itself on the shelf did not cause me to gain any weight. I did not consume calories by simply walking past the bags of M&Ms. To have those added calories in my system, I have to be able to purchase that candy and then use/eat it. M&Ms sitting on a shelf will not cause me to gain weight. They posed no threat to the diabetics who walked past them either. One cannot own an elephant or a tiger in the United States without proper permits and proving said animal will be taken care of properly. One cannot operate a car without first passing a test and having insurance in case there is an accident. It is, however, as easy to purchase a gun in some states as it is a picture frame or a roll of toilet paper.
The victims of gun violence are now a part of a team, a team that is crying out for better gun ownership. No one is safe from being a possible target. Last year members of Congress were playing an early morning baseball pickup game and became victims. While there are many motivating factors for these incidents, one thing is clear. Without access, far too easy access, people who need mental health help are making horrible choices that result in tragic consequences. We should and must take action.
Prayer is action. Action can take on a different form than just prayer and should involve those in your own daily living, not just victims of terrorism or natural disasters halfway around the world or across the country. It might be the offer of a ride somewhere. It might be organizing a group dinner for those with no family during the holidays. It might be buying a cup of coffee for the person behind you in line or even just a smile. The thing to remember is that life is all about action.
Such action saves us from being indifferent to others. It creates a web in our lives that unites us with the rest of mankind. It is not just about the person we are praying for or the actions we undertake. Ultimately these actions benefit most the person who does them. Such action opens our eyes so that we see not only the need but the pain. It acknowledges the want without blame or guilt.
We all make decisions about action every hour. What will I wear? What will I eat? Where will I go? How will I do this task? It is time to think outside the box of our own being and ask ourselves what action can and should we do today to help another. After such attacks fear is an easy pit in which to fall but fear is not action. Fear is a negative emotion. Fear causes us to become inactive and hide. We need to take positive action and move forward.