There are times if there is something wrong with me, if who I am is so out of synch with the rest of the world that I don’t even begin to fit. I feel like usually when my perception is not what others around me think and see. It can be very frustrating. It can be lonely.
I live in a culture that has a fascination with guns. Many of my family members, friends and co-workers are gun owners and feel that they are necessary for protection. Some of them are avid hunters or enjoy target shooting with the variety of weaponry they possess. Most of them have no problem with violent forms of retribution, such as capital punishment, “stand your ground laws”, and deliberate attacks on people deemed as threats to our communities or country.
Strange, “naive”, little Pollyanna me finds all of that abhorrent. I won’t touch a gun, do not see the need for one other than hunting or sport related targeting, neither of which holds any interest for me, and see all sorts of serious problems with the way society deals with problems by throwing violence at it. Conversations about endorsements advocating violence as any solution upsets me greatly. That makes me the odd girl out.
Being of the non-violent sort, a day like today, an anniversary of acts of senseless violence that led to more and more and more violence, violence that continues today, makes me want to curl up in a ball and wish I could just block it all out. The hatred that has exploded, having simmered under the surface for decades as a result of a few murderous men doesn’t seem to want to abate. It angers and frustrates me to hear or read about public figures on all sides espouse violence against the other, without qualm and with malice. It mystifies me that they can’t see past their own pride at the hurt, the destruction, the fury such rhetoric promotes.
I know in this too, I’m weird one, the kooky pacifist who just doesn’t understand how the world works, at least that is how I am perceived to some. I’ve been told, more than once, that this is a trend, the world getting worse and worse until the rapture or some other Christian based end of the world scenario. But I look at history and don’t see it. We’ve always had violence, people have suffered horribly at the hands of others for eons. I read their stories and am amazed that we still haven’t learned a damned thing. I don’t see why doing the same thing we’ve always done in situations like this solves the situations. So, yeah, I don’t understand.
So today, I pray, hope, and try to instill what I do every day…peace. Not the cessation of violence, but something better. For people to stop for a minute hating one another, looking at them as enemy, lesser valued, evil, and to try to imagine walking in their shoes for a minute. For people to ask questions like: Why do they hate us? What about their culture, religion is similar to mine? What if I had to live in their world?
Will that solve the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Gaza, Afghanistan and elsewhere today? Oh, if it were only that easy. But maybe it will have us consider other options that don’t result in more loss of life. Maybe also, it will have us look at the people in our own communities with a fresh perspective as well.
I’m still working on that whole “loving my neighbor as myself” thing, yet it has given me a completely different way of looking at people as a whole and as individuals. I won’t own or touch a gun, because to me, they represent violence, pain, death, and irrevocable loss. I won’t cheer at successful military campaigns that stop murderous thugs in their tracks, it too represents those things, even if they are deemed necessary. I will appreciate and be grateful for our militaries who sacrifice much for safety and freedom of the nations they represent, but I take no joy in what they must at times do. I hope and pray for a day, where my nation feels spending 600 billion dollars a year for its upkeep as ludicrously high. I long for the day where the negotiating table always trumps the battlefield.
There’s a verse in the Bible that talks about beating swords into plowshares. I love the analogy of turning the weapons of war and destruction into implements of agriculture and building. Maybe I am a Pollyanna, naive oddball, completely doped up on a massive case of delusion. But if the writer of that passage in Isaiah could imagine such a thing, then so can I.