It’s Friday afternoon. I’m driving home from the school where I teach (way on the other side of Denver from where I live), moving slowly, because everyone’s doing what I’m doing at the exact same time. It’s been a long week and my brain is fried. The news is playing on the car radio, senators are debating gun laws, but it’s really more of a background noise for my drifting thoughts. At this point, in this mental state, I wonder if it is really about more gun control versus less gun control, or about our collective, cultural willingness or unwillingness to find new, nonviolent, empowering, peace-promoting, effective responses to whatever it is that makes humans want to shoot or otherwise harm other humans on ANY scale, from personal assault to mass murder to war. Maybe this whole debate is a distraction that keeps our national attention away from other, deeper, more entrenched problems. Eh?????
One one point, at least, both sides are the same: they both envision a world where guns are necessary for wielding against other people, or against other beings. One side wants to reserve the right to use guns to prevent other people from using them against people (themselves or others). The other side wants to reserve the right to use guns against the people on the first side, if it should ever come to that. And yes, there are many sub-arguments on either side. I honestly see where both sides are coming from, and I see both as having valid concerns within the framework of the current conversation. But they are both based on a worldview in which it is necessary to have guns and to have the right to use them against other people in certain specific circumstances. And I do not believe that that worldview is either necessary or predetermined. I do believe that as a group, the direction we humans need to go in is beyond the debate about whether and how to regulate firearms and who can use them and how and when, and what happens to us when we break those rules.
Earlier, on the way TO said job on the other side of the city, I heard this archeologist talking on Science Friday about the work of figuring out what exactly made the dinosaurs go extinct, and he made a comment to this effect: that though we can’t do something now, or even imagine how we would do it, that’s no reason to assume we won’t be able to do it in the future, possibly even the near future. He noted that even scientists tend to underestimate the magnitude of advances we’ll make, and how quickly we’ll make them. That’s in the field of research technology, of course, but I think the same is true of any area of human learning, any field in which we increase in understanding over time. We don’t know what we’re going to be able to do, we are unable to picture what it would be like to do a thing, and then suddenly someone experiences a paradigm shift, and is able to see it, able to conceive it, able to actually do the thing that did not even have a name before. This was the first thing we learned about in the H.C. at IUP: Thomas Kuhn and the idea of the paradigm shift, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Back then my professor took me out for pizza because he thought it was so nutty of me to apply that theory to the spread of Christianity in my final paper. Since that time, though, I’ve seen repeatedly how true it is of any area of human development or spiritual evolution. To make dramatic shifts in consciousness, in understanding, to let go of problems and let them be transformed, we need to look for, cultivate, and encourage the conditions under which paradigm shifts are likely to occur. Such shifts are possible when, and only when, we believe they are. Although we cannot see the next step on our path, or even that there is a path, and not a gaping void, we can’t (and we don’t) let that stop us from walking forward.
So how is this related to gun laws? The debate will play itself out how it will. If there really are specific regulations or liberties that will lead to fewer acts of violence being committed, then I hope those are the ones that get passed. From what I have read (like this piece), it seems like the most powerful players in this game are the gun manufacturers, and they aren’t interested in liberty OR saving lives — just money. So I’m just saying. The whole debate is taking place on the surface of the issue. I’d love to see the profit factor be acknowledged regularly in the public debate for the huge force that it really is. And at the same time as we (at least those who are participating in this conversation in good faith) are collectively looking for the best, most responsible ways to manage the use and sale of guns on a practical, this-moment basis, I would ask Americans to also do whatever they can to open their minds to the idea that the real issue might be something else, and that by meeting and addressing and solving this real issue — the real causes of violence, of fear, rage, the urge to hurt others or ourselves — we will solve so much more than just “the gun debate.” We need to look for solutions to the suffering that exists, and take responsibility for our roles in causing it. It will necessarily involve advancing in our understanding of how connected we all are, and how if we harm any being, we are truly and literally harming ourselves. That goes for you, too, corporations. ESPECIALLY for you.
Ok, that’s all I’m going to say on the topic. May peace be with us on Earth.