God and Guns

“…So you say your prayers and thank the Lord for that peacemaker in your dresser drawer. God and guns keep us strong, that’s what this country was founded on…” The southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd’s hit song entitled “God and Guns” was released with the album by the same name on September 29, 2009.

The song tells of politicians trying to take away the guns of law-abiding folk, and was written in direct response to President Obama’s comment regarding some people’s need to cling to religion and guns. Although Obama did clarify the comment as referring to an apathy that politicians have created among the middle class resulting in their turning to what could be trusted, God and guns, to this day a large segment of the United States continues to suggest that the goal of the Obama administration is to abolish the 2nd Amendment.

When did God or religion become a part of the gun argument? How is faith related in any way to the right to bear arms? It seems that the alliance goes hand in hand with the symbolic division of liberal and conservative. The conservative movement as we know it today really blossomed in the 1950’s, and, according to Historian Gregory Schneider conservative constants include “respect for tradition, support of republicanism, the rule of law and the Christian religion, and a defense of Western civilization from the challenges of modernist culture and totalitarian governments.”

As conservatives in rural areas continued to unite in strengthening their position on less government while at the same time beginning to feel the encroachment of progressive ideas, fear set in. The fear of losing their way of life, their religious freedom and their traditions. Part of the tradition included owning guns for hunting, defending their families and taking the 2nd Amendment very seriously.

This emergence of a conservative agenda emphasized the rights that were most dear to them. The proficient use of fear mongering during the 1950’s regarding communism cemented religion, taxes, property and gun ownership together as those things that would be lost in a communist society.

Today, as we face some tough challenges with regard to gun ownership, fear has again blinded us from fact. The tightening of gun laws to ensure responsible ownership and determining the type of arms an average citizen has the right to own is a logical discussion about rights versus public safety. No one is going to scrap the 2nd Amendment or take all guns away. That is fact. But a responsible discussion is due, and it must be one that takes into consideration the most defenseless of our people.

Some religious leaders claim that the reason for the increase in violence is due to a movement away from God, adding that even Jesus advocated for defense of one’s self and family. The question here is if we are interested in bringing Americans closer to God, what sense will it make to a child in a school surrounded by armed guards when they are told to “Love their neighbor as thyself?”

Head of the Progressive Christian group Sojourners, Rev. Jim Willis said, ““The world is not full of good and bad people. That is not what our scriptures teach us,” but that each individual is both good and bad, Wallis said. “And when we are bad or isolated or angry or furious or vengeful or politically agitated or confused or lost or deranged or unhinged, and we have the ability to get and use weapons only designed to kill large numbers of people,” Wallis continued, “our society is in great danger.”

This is such a contrast with what Mike Huckabee said when asked why God lets tragedy like Newtown happen,

We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage because we’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability?”

This would lead one to believe that the reason children were killed in the school or that it was the chosen target was because we’ve “removed” God from the school. Yet the very teaching of Jesus reminds us that the kingdom of God is within us, and therefore God is always with us.

The effort by some in the Christian community to justify their opposition to any gun control is tied greatly to their true belief that it is part of their God given right to have one, and that the United States government cannot overrule God. Yet when we look closely at the meaning behind the world’s major religions we find that love, peace and compassion are the truths to be protected. Anything else is man-made dogma that leads to greed, unhealthy competition, fear and violence.


Predator, Prey, Parasite or Scavenger…which are you?

A new year, a new perspective and time to evaluate the person in the mirror before we set out to change the world. That face that stares back every morning can sometimes become a stranger. Especially when we’ve spent a significant amount of time studying, criticizing, advising and otherwise judging everyone else.

The truth is, the more we direct another’s life the less we have to ponder our own. One way to put yourself back into your driver seat is to investigate what makes you tick and why you do what you do. By dividing our typical modes of operation into four types, we may be able to pinpoint how we make choices and why. The four that seem obvious and dominant are Predator, Prey, Parasite and Scavenger. But there is one more type to be noted, Observer.

The Predator is highly competitive, seeks control and domination, is constantly hungry for more and is focused on getting what she wants no matter what the cost. The Predator sees justification for taking out the weakest individuals in the survival of the fittest philosophy. Weed out those that cannot make it on their own and it leaves more for those who can.

The Prey is always looking over his shoulder, always expecting to be hurt, forgotten, taken advantage of or pushed aside. The Prey is in a constant state of need and becomes dependent upon anyone that has the means to provide. Once conditioned to the state of mind, being a dependent weak member of society becomes a motivation for manipulation and desperation with a feeling of victimization that justifies entitlements.

The Parasite finds a host that has need for what is being offered. Once that host opens up to the Parasite, it soon becomes beholding in that relationship. The Parasite knows how to present a “win/win” scenario, which will soon become a bond so tight, the host cannot function in its present capacity without the Parasite. Although it appears to be a symbiotic relationship, it actually breaks down the host after a period of time.

The Scavenger waits for the death of something, then swoops in for the spoil. If the Scavenger sees something near death it may find ways to hurry up the process rather than wait it out. This relationship can be productive in keeping an environment clean from rotting things, but the Scavenger’s sole contribution is disposing of dead things.

The Observer does not seek to be either of the other four, yet sometimes is all of them at once. The Observer exists moment by moment with each relationship a fleeting part of an immediate solution. This way of existence is much like a blade of grass or oxygen. There is a birth, a purpose, a decay, and a rebirth. The Observer lives each state of his existence knowing all is provided. There is no such word as lack or need in the vocabulary. There is only one moment of existence.

All five of these types are necessary for balance in nature. But is it also true for human nature? Could we exist and prosper if we were all Observers? Would any advancement be made if we were all Prey? There is need for a perfect balance of all types. One without the other causes stagnation. It seems likely that the best outcome for human kind would be if all five types made up who we are. There is a time and a season for everything, even our behavior.

In this new year, perhaps we can learn to appreciate the need for all types of personalities, business operations, healthy competition, ideas and philosophies. Maybe we can find a way for all to exist in a more symbiotic fashion with an understanding of the dangers of extremism. Finding that delicate balance as individuals might help us to achieve the same balance as a global society.