Dr. Catherine Meeks: A Worthy Conversation on Guns

It has taken me awhile to come to the conclusion that I want to join in the gun control conversation. My heistancy lies in the fact that it is such a polarized discussion and that there are so many people who are willing to make such unkind and violent remarks as they try to express their point of view and feelings on the issue of guns and gun ownership.

Thoughtful people have to ask, "How did we get to this place?" The place that we have a multi-billion dollar gun industry and lobbyists that believes that they can hold the nation hostage to the point of view that we must have everybody armed in order to have a peaceful and safe society. How many of us really want to walk around with guns in our pockets and handbags and have armed guards everywhere we go including our churches, restaurants, schools, barber shops and grocery stores? Do we really believe that there is somehow an inalienable right to work to create a society that no longer knows how to be civil toward one another? Do we really want to fold up our hands and accept that we cannot change our ways and work to combat our addiction to violence and fear based responses to a world which is changing too rapidly for our comfort? I hope not.

We are nation of violent behavior. We have historical verification of our capacity to practice violence. Of course, we call most of it war, and we have been very careful to find numerous ways to justify our behavior, though all of our wars have only left us still fighting yet another war. So one wonders when we will come to realize that the path of violence simply leads to the need for more violence? When will we learn that violence breeds violence? As we continue to turn our expectations toward violence and our intention toward killing someone before they can kill us, we will continue to get violent results . We have too many highly armed people who are willing to fight to the last breath to hold onto their guns and some who are willing to threaten to be violent if they have to live with any type of limitations that are not satisfactory to them.

I believe that there is a better way. And if we are planning to continue to sustain life on this planet we had better began to consider that there are better ways to live than we are presently managing to exhibit. Gandhi said it well, "If we insist upon living with the idea of an eye for an eye, we will end up with the whole world blind." We are making great progress toward having a blinded world. We certainly have our share of blindness in this country around the issue of guns. Personally, I cannot see any reason why anyone needs a gun. I think that all of them need to banished from the face of the earth forever. Surely some people would still find ways to be violent, but it would make a difference if there were no guns to be found on the earth.

After spending two years of my life working with a group who called themselves "Mourning Mothers," I became even more convinced that guns needed to be abolished. These were mothers and some fathers who had lost their children to violence. My first hand experience with them was very instructive and caused me to pay closer attention to the ways in which I allowed violence to be an acceptable part of my life. You know all of those television shows that somehow make violence into entertainment, or the movies that work to convince the audience that the violence is necessary to make the story what it needs to be. Then there are those deeper levels of violence that are reflected in attitudes toward those who are unacceptable in some way because of their age, race, gender, political views, physical ability or economic status. 

Sharing the grief with these deeply wounded families will always be a part of my understanding of the role of guns in our country and my deep belief that we would be better off without all of them. Although we are having many conversations about this subject and we will do something because little children were murdered in Connecticut and we can hardly bear that level of tragedy. The truth is that the only hope for us is to stop in our tracks and turn our intention to finding the path leading to the healing of our national addiction to violence and its glorification. 

Yes, we need to have better mental health accessibility for everyone, we need to deal with the gun epidemic that is raging in this land and we all need to seek to rid our lives of violence. We need to seek peace for ourselves and for our country. We need to build better bridges of faith, courage, love and compassion that will help to make us realize that violence unnecessary.

Taken with permission from HuffingtonPost.com/Religion