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Planned Parenthood

I know i can get crabby. It is likely why Partner Dylan and I go well together. we are naturally crabs when it comes to social issues.

I have been good thus far on the planned parenthood front, up until now.  The far christian right simply has to take a day off from the propoganda and doctored tapes. We all know planned parenthood conducts abortions. This is not news or a secret. Abortion is here to stay. 3 PERCENT of what planned parenthood does is surrounding the topic of abortion (counseling, assessment, medications,procedures) and this is PRIVATELY funded. 97% of what they do is better than anything I have yet seen the same far Christian right offer to women, girls, and their partners: actual sex education, free birth control, free women’s healthcare, and science-based family planning counseling. Most parents do not even offer their own children this.

It is easier to hurl a stone at one of the best outreaches for female healthcare than it is to actually adopt a child or take a mother/couple and baby into our homes. Far too often it is the middle class, adult mothers of natural babies who cast the largest stones and take to the streets. Would i have any right to drop the “pro life” buzz word if i have never offered a pregnant family my home? Would i have any more right if i publically state this while holding my natural newborn?

I’m thinking not.  Let’s take a day off the hate and start helping out. Because at the end of the day, no one wants to go through the physically painful procedure of an abortion. It is not pretty, pleasant, or some sort of magical fuck you to Pat Robertson. What do women want? Probably what planned parenthood offers: non-judgment, actual education, and contraception.

Planned parenthood is not the boogey woman. They have been upfront since 1916. If someone does not like abortion, perhaps adopting a mother, partner, and child with very little means is a good place to start. It is easier to bring a child into the world than to help care for someone else’s. And it is easier to hurl a stone than to put it back down gently.

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ten thousand

Perhaps it was nickel-plated

or chrome,

gaudily tasseled like the theatrics of Roman cathedrals.

They come gold-handled, sterling silver, or of crude iron like the gothic fences of the rich—

in cages.

Even pewter like the mugs engraved with names of freshly born children

Displayed like bibles and dishes and triangular flags

No matter how adorned,

In all, there lies a single coiled spring, no bigger than—

the tip of a pencil.

 

It only takes a slight of hand to pull a trigger.

The creeping of cowards, the desperate, at night, alone

Slinking away from their spouses and children.

Like when Robin strung up his own noose.

Positioning the chair

the stepping up

the delicate fitting, just so

and the stepping off into the abyss.

 

Fuck that.

 

When you crept down to that basement to write your final opus,

were they supposed to believe you a sacrificial martyr?

with your elegant note, so pristine, so poised,

so quiet.

 

It is now,

so

very

quiet.

 

And they desperately needed your sound.

They needed a vote.

They needed you to show them—

how to suffer,

how to die,

the meaning of true family and love and honesty

they deserved a vote

they were not to be underestimated

 

You

had

no

right.

 

A ghastly betrayal. to wait for her to leave on her morning walk.

And what about that goddamned text—to call the sheriff and not to come in—

I ask you,

would that have kept you out?

Why did you not call the sheriff?—

to seal the regality on the nobility of your death?

 

Did you not consider to whom would be her first call?

Your third born son.

The one who had long ago become the first.

Did you not think of what he would find?

Did you not think of who it would be to close your eyes?

To take the gun out of your cold hand?

Did you not think of the dreams he would waken from,

shaking?

Did you not think of the waking flashbacks he would suffer, losing long, unexplainable gaps in time?

 

And thank god for his wife

and for friends

and for David

and for us.

 

Did you not see what I saw?

I saw the light go out the eyes of your fourth born son.

I saw your third born son choking on his own tears somehow lodged between his soul and his throat.

I have never seen those eyes look as I saw them—the very soul, sunken, barely surviving,

inhale,

exhale—

so

much

pain

 

Because that one bullet did not only shoot you,

it pierced holes in countless others.

And as the old hated song of Sufjan’s goes:

“You killed ten thousand people with the slight of your hand”

You killed ten thousand people.

You killed ten thousand.

 

Those boys, now grown men—the best friends of my Love,

those boys you raised,

will never

ever

be

the same.

 

Why didn’t you think about that when you lamented over the humiliation

of a motherfucking bath—

a bath you too would have given your wife

a bath you would have longed to give her

a bath she was grateful to give you

 

In sickness

 

But to five sons you were not the only father,

you had two churches spanning over 30 years.

to them you were Father

to them you represented the very God each week at that Baptist pulpit

And the group of youth who grew up with you, one of them my Beloved who played with your sons at your home, —your wife who dropped him off each week down the street

And the third best friend whom you baptized at 6, who dropped in on your week after week with questions about faith—whom you took into your home for years during college—

 

this now grown man whom you married to his wife—

the second born son whom you married to his wife

the third son whom your married to his wife

the fourth son whom you married to his wife

the engaged fifth son who you were going to marry to his wife

the grandson just born

the other on the way

the countless other sons and daughters who you stood in front of and asked them to vow the words:

 

In sickness and in health

Until death

 

After your viewing was changed to a visitation, no wonder

 

After your sons and your wife stood for four hours

to comfort their comforters

After the service where they attended with black, open wounds—

Did you get a chance to eavesdrop around the room?

It was loud enough—

 

Like hornets.

 

“If I was him, I cannot say that I wouldn’t do the same.”

“He felt the pain and chemo would not end, he felt he was protecting his wife.”

“We are wrestling with whether it was right or wrong”

“If I was him, I cannot say that I wouldn’t do the same.”

“If I was him, I cannot say that I wouldn’t do the same.”

“The humiliation he suffered at her giving him a bath the night before.”

“If I was him I cannot say that I wouldn’t do the same.”

“If I was him, I cannot say that I wouldn’t do the same.”—

 

“If I was him, I cannot say that I wouldn’t do the same!”

 

So I ask you: is this the legacy you wanted to leave?

Is this the protection you bestowed?

Because for generations—forever—this will never be forgotten.

You grandchildren will be told

and your great grandchildren

and your great-great grandchildren

and Ancestry.com

 

And all of us now,

all of us two-hundred years from now will ask,

Was there any other way to endure?

Is there anyone to whom we can point who showed us the way?

 

Because if I were him, wouldn’t I do the same?

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i cannot tell for sure, but I am almost positive my neighbors need a drone

drone

There has been a lot of commotion around here lately:  a mass shooting at a military base in the capital, a government shut down over the selfish, panicky conservatives attempting to stall the universal healthcare law.  Apparently, there is nothing more frightening for the passionate lovers entitled Price-Gauged Privatized Insurance & Pharmaceutical Companies than to realize that running a monopoly is not very polite.  There was the Syrian nerve gas followed by the silenced ongoing genocide, brutality in Egypt & Greece, a brutal mass shooting in Kenya, Iran growing as restless as a freshly woken tiger, a guy who lit himself on fire on Washington D.C.’s front lawn, and Miley Cyrus riding a wrecking ball in her BVD’s.

Amidst all of this, there has been a lot of talk of “military action,” and drones.  Somehow this recent outpouring of violence needs a good killing by an unmanned spaceship which apparently resembles something akin to a hummingbird—in the middle east or elsewhere.

Are there even hummingbirds in the middle east? 

It appears that America is finally out-and-proud about the customarily-denied polarization issue—much like the family gatherings at Thanksgiving where you come around a square plank of wood covered with dead animals and pretend that you like the people sitting next to you.  Until Uncle Horris starts in with his views on Jesus, and Cousin Margaret brings up immigration, and Granddaughter Lou discusses her stance on abortion.

And then:

Thanksgiving Politics

congressional meetings

But all of this aside, there has been something nagging in the back of my mind which goes beyond the trigger-happy men, who god-only-knows-how-they-ever-came-to-be-in-charge except by killing every opponent within a 3000 mile radius.  But the issue persistently nagging my psyche is a thread of an issue which I have seen unaddressed in all of the chaos…

There was the issue of the drones taking out four American citizens abroad who were seen as a threat to their country.  But the part of this that I want to address is the reaction of some citizens to the news that their president killed four of the country’s “own citizens.”  So upset were the people, an explanation was demanded of the president, at which point he stated the assassinates’ infiltration with treasonous violence, plotting, and influence as justification.

As disturbing as this story may be, it was the outrage of some of the American citizens at the authorization by the President for the killing some of his own citizens which has been bothering me.

I consider myself a fairly reasonable person—except when I am driving.  Or when it is raining.  Or when my uterus is contracting.  Or possibly when I am sleeping or sunbathing, ill, or on vacation.  Nevertheless, my sanguine temperament aside, I feel confused about how the specific longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates (such as those in citizenry) determine the value of one life from another.

Is it considered significant if a winged robot kills Americans involved in terrorism more than Pakistanis involved in the same?  Are they killing easterners because of terrorism or because they are easterners?  Are they killing easterners because of terrorism or because of oil?  Are they killing easterners because of terrorism or because of religion or fear?

If I am born on a specific coordinate, I get a paper stating that I am a citizen of one place or another.  And apparently this coordinate can make me more or less valuable than if I were on another spot on the map.

Americans were upset with the president for killing United States citizens involved in terrorism because they were United States citizens.  Conversely, some Americans were also incredibly supportive of the president for killing Pakistani citizens involved in terrorism because, they were involved in terrorism and because they were not United States citizens.

Do I decrease in value like the Dollar when I head east?  And when I come back, do I then increase in value along with my dollar?  How can I tell if someone who lives in my longitudinal/latitudinal coordinates (without the bullet-proof papers) next door to me has more or less value than I?  Should I check their papers to see on which coordinates they were born?  How will I know for sure?  Will it be evident in the car they drive?  What about the church they attend?  The books they read?  How will I know if I am one of them?  What if I am visiting my friends in Pakistan or Rwanda, Korea, South Africa, Vietnam or Guatemala, how will I know their value?  If a 1 is the ranking of worthiness for life, I could be talking to a 7 when I think I am talking to a 1.  Or I could be hugging a 3 and they are really a 9.  Or maybe I am the 9?

I hope a drone can tell the difference.

Because I can’t.

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job, God, and duck tape

Job and God

Of all of the books of the Old Testament, Job can be considered one of the most original, troubling, confusing, maddening, encouraging, and hopeful.  Various scholars have attempted to understand, explain, and derive particular meaning out of the story, each emphasizing differing solutions and insights.  Typically, the consistent areas of interest are as follows:

  1. A.    God and satan musing over Job
  2. B.    The overwhelming calamities
  3. C.    The theologizing of the situation by Job’s spouse and friends
  4. D.    The interactions between God and Job
  5. E.    The restoration of Job

Some theologians have theorized that the story never truly happened, while others assert that the story is literal, historical, confusing, yet infallible.  Other have claimed that the book emphasizes the mystery of suffering, the role of God and satan in the events of life, the failure of the believers attempting to provide “answers” and “reasons” for another’s suffering and thereby a prescription for getting back on track.  While still others emphasize the relationship between Job and God to be paramount.  Finally, (though certainly not exhaustively), diverse scholars have placed the greatest emphasis on the discourse of God to Job, attributing meaning from “what God was really saying” which was considered to be “I Am God, and you are not:  trust.”

But perhaps currently for me, one of the interpretations which connects with me more than any of the others comes from a discussion by Christian Atheist, cultural critic, and philosopher, Slavoj Zizek in his lecture and publication, God Without the Sacred:  The Book of Job, the First Critique of Ideology, (2010).  In it, Zizek draws from the perspective of G.K. Chesterton who noted:

“To startle man, God becomes for an instant a blasphemer.  One might almost say that God becomes for an instant an atheist.  He unrolls before Job a long panorama of created things:  the horse, the eagle, the raven, the wild ass, the peacock, the ostrich, the crocodile.  He so describes each of them that it sounds like a monster walking in the sun.  The whole is a sort of psalm or rhapsody of the sense of wonder.  The Maker of all things is astonished at the things he has himself made.”

Essentially, Zizek develops an idea that in the book of Job, there is the first actual confrontation of the notion that there is a God “up there” who “pulls the strings” in great arrogance.  Instead, there is a Creator who is just as bewildered by how his creation has (provocatively put), gone to shit.  God joins Job in his outcry, and adds to it not only the pain of Job, but the entire mess of the whole blasphemous wreck called Earth.

Proceeding forward in Zizek’s line of thinking, what died on the cross with Jesus was not sin, it was the notion of a dictator God; when Jesus cried out to God in abandonment, he, according to Zizek for an instant became an atheist—God began to disbelieve in God.  From this moment there was a radical shift in that God could no longer cease to be in the way he had once presumed.  That God died, and what came back in place of this dictator was the Holy Spirit, which is and remains an egalitarian community of love and justice.

While many look at Job as actually reinforcing an idea of a cosmic, narcissistic entity encouraging blind faith, it is also important to consider the opposite.  In truth, I have no idea of the character, role, personhood, or control of this entity called God (or satan) in this story of Job.  But the humans within the story I can derive meaning much more readily.  Horrendous suffering often occurs to most people at some period in time during their life here on Earth.  And faith is often drawn upon for meaning and reason during these times.  Faith is also grasped upon for formulas to end the pain.  This is normal.  Some would even call it the “bargaining” period of grieving.

But it is also normal to desire a non-arbitrary universe—one where we have some dimension of control.  One of the most difficult concepts which remains so contrary to the rest of our existence is that we have no control over many of the existential dimensions of life.  We have essentially no control over another’s choice, intention, actions, living, dying, health, or well-being.  We can be responsible to one another, but not for one another.

And this totally sucks.

In the story of Job, the humans surround him displaying despair, resignation, foibled attempts at comforting, lectures, prescriptions, silence, anger, rage, tears, and endless speaking.  Does it get any more human than this in the face of gut-level, existential and spiritual suffering?

 

friends with no mute button

friends with no mute button

 

If anything, to me the book of Job emphasizes the confusing complexity of it all:  the human at the mercy of a world sold out to destroy itself, and a grasping urgency to know a worthy “Other” for support.  And in this story we too, in identifying with the terrible pain in this book, reach with Job for an understanding of a good “Other” because we recognize that we too desperately need this support.

And honestly, I do not know which would be worse to encounter in this Other—a God who set into motion a sound rendition of The Hunger Games in partnership with the devil, or a God who set the world into motion and left us in charge—we who will either welcome this Holy Spirit of an egalitarian community of love and justice, or we who will reject this spirit within us, within one another, and all around us.

For those who reject this spirit, the rest of the spirit-embracing community will have to figure out how it will endure, limit, and handle the calamity caused by the spirit-rejecting community.  By no means is any of this easy.  Perhaps it can become more simple to project onto an invisible God the responsibility for fixing the catastrophes found here rather than enacting justice and setting limits on the members hell-bent on destroying themselves and everyone around them.  Perhaps dictator God is easier than an egalitarian community.  Or perhaps blind faith in a “perfect” God is easier than the wrestling.

For myself in looking at these questions, I presently—presently as in the next fifteen minutes—think that Jesus or God is a higher power as in, pure goodness and more powerful than humanity.  But I do not think Jesus or God is all powerful.  Because Jesus or God cannot be both all good and all powerful.  And certainly in the book of Job, God was portrayed as both devil and deliverer.

Furthermore, in agreement with Zizek, if God was in Jesus, then Jesus became an atheist in the moment he questioned the abandonment of God—and frankly whether Jesus was correct in this doubt, whether Chesterton’s or Zizek’s theories are anywhere near the realm of possibility, one has to reach a place of admittance that the intersection of the severely fucked-up pain encountered in each person’s life and the goodness of an “all good, all powerful God” can no longer be permitted to be answered with an insult:  just have faith that God is right. 

Because to do so, we are truly doing a disservice to ourselves, not to mention to Jesus or God.

And to do so, we are no different than the three friends to whom we want to duck tape as they sit next to the ashes surrounding Job.

I fully admit that I do not know any of the answers to any of the questions that the book of Job raises to any reader who is awake.  When it comes to seeking, questioning, theorizing, or hypothesizing answers to the existential for myself, I have no apologies, censorship, or fear of ruffling the feathers of the stagnant.

But when it comes to another’s quest for answers to their own suffering and existential crisis, I would hope and even pray that I have a large supply of duck tape.

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divorce

evening orchard

You used to say nice things to me.

Ears perked as the pointed steeples of dogs.

 

You would tell me of who you were, of caterpillars and butterflies

Of binding, pricking metal, and vomiting out of hell,

shackled like a tetherball

insatiable need, to hit that pole again and again,

the fine prick needle of pride-sucking disgrace

reasoning—

negotiating—

that ball away from the pole,

oblivious—

 

to the string.

 

You would tell me of goliath done in by a swift stone through the forehead,

of black, talking horses

of the Mohandas and water and tulips grown into perversion.

You would tell me of ghosts residing under concrete, familial.

And there they stayed,

even as the bottom underneath, caved in upon them

 

I suppose you too were one of them—a ghost clutched to stone—a stone you would return to again and again,

as though in exile between wars.

 

A war not of who you feared you were,

but of who you feared to become.

 

And it may take some heaving still.

Because as you pushed that trigger, someone pulled it after you.

 

When you picked her up,

in a village,

she clutched you like a refugee

at church,

and you ignored the foreign cologne,

wafting out from between her breasts

to your nostrils

like incense.

 

And at night, his lights would flicker

long after God had gone to bed.

Silent, erotic erosion, within a carnal, confessional chamber,

the marriage dissolved.

 

And one day you saw it:

 

he clutched an apple, lodged into his throat, striking him eternally dumb—

eyes bulged forever to fixated vision,

oxygen divorced

all senses lost.

 

They cast lots,

for inheritance.

 

I have never seen you eat an apple, no wonder.

You do not attend confession.

And all of your lights are out in the evening.

 

You have a candelabra tetherball,

bashful behind a sash in the corner,

steeling glances like the soft, blinking glow

of a sleepy kitten, curled into a ball under the bed, at midnight.

 

And sometimes, late at night, we stroll down to the apple orchard

Hand in hand, palms pressed seamlessly in sacramental bliss

where we lay

intertwined,

and clotheless

enraptured in scent and touch, unlocking pathways to private contours,

known only to us—

listening to the earth breathing, under the pleasuring of the moon.

 

I pretend not to notice your curious habit—

I see you counting sometimes.

Your lips gently mouthing the numbers

watching—

as the trees blow into and away from the wind,

an apple hits the ground

hard—

like that ball demanded, then rejected

by the pole.

 

It is as though you are counting to see,

 

how far that apple will fall

from its tree.

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a flag at half mast

They said there would be days like this.  Entire periods, in fact.  Days when I would be comfortless.  Days when I would be unable to be comforted.  The puppy would have comforted me; I could tell.  He would have grown up to be a huge ally.  The kind of ally where explanations and words would be null, obsolete.  Just muscle, just size, just total dedication—a space of breathing between us.

I need a space between.  Between soft sheets and weighted blankets, between tears and shirt-sleeves covering the muscle of Beloved, between the pain in the silence and the sound of an inner guide.

Because for all of the comfort, support and strength of my loved ones—the buck stops with me.  And, as far as the former biological family is concerned, the buck started with me as well.

Some days this burden seems too great to bear.  Knowing, as Russell Crowe’s character in A Beautiful Mind, that those three characters—will often show up somewhere, randomly and unexpected.  And I must come to peace with the art of non-engagement.  For only when there is engagement, will there be a sure destruction.

I have a loyal wife.  I have loyal friends, my chosen sisters, brothers, children, mothers, fathers.

My hand is gripped tightly by the strong, Ichthys-tattooed hand of my beloved Partner Dylan.

However I must be the space in between.

Because it was my truth to tell.  And no one could have told it for me.

And truth comes at a price.

And some days, familial capitalism is unfathomable.

How does one even begin to untangle over 20 years of life with someone?  No matter if good or bad, 20 years is a long time.  And when it is one’s mother and father who chose the lie while still watching the dam break over their only daughter, this is such a long time.  So many memories.  So much emotion.  So much longing–for parents.  For parents who would have been the space in between.

Holding the dam can feel almost impossible.

I have heard it said that truth sets a person free.  Maybe.  But not today.  It can be a lot of work to hold the truth.  It can be astounding to speak it.  And it can be lonely to live it.

I have no spiritual insights, no epiphanies, no devotional.  I have Breathe In and Breathe Out as companions; a loyalty I will never take for granted.

I have the sound of silence, the sound of mourning:  an inner flag at half mast.  A black veil draped over the photo-frame of my heart like the one delicately laced over the portrait of a president newly assassinated.

I have the dreams working themselves out of me at night, the fatigue, the busyness, the counting of any numerical value, the up, the down.

And for all of my craving for the honor of being listened to,

I have nothing to say.

I suppose sometimes you have to just sit down on the ship.  And too much chatter can frustrate the waves and the stomach even more.  If we are fortunate, someone will sit quietly beside us until the journey reaches where it is going—a companion to ride the wave along side us, like a silent, large dog.

We have much to learn from creatures.

They go through an entire lifetime without a single word.

And, they say so very much.

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a new will: and other thoughts on mortality

My small, left hand clasped tightly to his, I followed my dad’s lead, thumb in my mouth, eyes large, my oversized, white nighty dragging on the ground under my small, four-year old frame.

When we reached the bedroom, he opened his top dresser drawer and pulled it out of its regal, unzipped leather case.

“You must never touch this; it is very dangerous,” he said gently.  “It is always here in this top drawer, and you must never pick it up or play with it.”

My eyes opened wide, and my tiny voice said very seriously, “Okay.”  I nodded solemnly for emphasis. I always loved it when he paid attention to me; just me.  My heart that would do anything to please this man, I trusted him, I respected him, I loved him; he was my daddy.

As the years passed, it was always there.  I learned later that it even had a name:  “Baby.”  And Baby went on long car rides with us, on vacation, camping trips, and continued to sleep in my parents’ bedroom, in that top dresser drawer.

True to my solemn, four-year-old oath, I never touched or played with Baby.

Baby even accumulated new siblings:  strays from my grandfather, adoptions from local events, purchases from the adoption market, gifts.

Thirty years since that day with my dad, the prized Baby, is left in the will to me.

Baby, is a .38 semiautomatic handgun.

………………………….

kool-aid is an acquired taste

As a grown woman in favor of gun control, I imagine some would attribute this counter-upbringing stance to some eventual, godawful childhood trauma with a gun—some accidental shooting of the kitty, a time the gun was used against me, or a time when a friend stole it and killed someone with my father’s gun from that top dresser drawer.

But none of those things ever happened.

Essentially, as the years passed and the guns began reproducing themselves like the ants Partner Dylan and I finally exterminated (thank god almighty!) in our sunroom, there was eventually a gun in every corner in my parents’ home.  Oddly enough, my mother also had a switchblade on her nightstand next to a small .22 pistol.

Mom is an odd sort.  But I suppose she would have to be if she married my dad.

There were times growing up, that I was taught to shoot in target practice—not with the Sarah Palin-type fondness of shooting wolves out of helicopters, but elementary-level target shooting nonetheless.

sarah palin

i never reached this level of expertise

Guns were in the watered-down koolaid we drank.  And somehow, much like the four year-old sucking her thumb, wide-eyed in her nighty, I continued to observe and evaluate things around me, despite the encouragement to buy a small pistol for my purse.

For real.

I was encouraged to do this.

The more I saw of life as I became older, the more this pack-‘em-high-and-deep mentality seemed to counter common sense, a global perspective; it represented to me a form of eerie selfishness and isolation.

In living not only in an incredibly violent city, but in an incredibly violent country, there is absolutely no way in hell that I think this place needs more guns.

exhibit A:

Since the adolescent mass shootings have multiplied like fertilized ovums in the uterine-like cul-de-sac of the white, suburban communities, people in the country are beginning to take notice.  And they are responding with an example to look up to.

They are packing high and deep.  Counterintuitive as it may sound, never do gun sales soar so high as in the aftermath of a mass shooting. The National Rifle Association (NRA) has been making a killing.  No insensitive pun intended, however true.

Due to a shocking recent vote  in Congress, the white male senators appear in agreement with the NRA:  The assault weapons are best kept in the hands of citizens:  in their closets, dresser drawers, garages, the nursery.

And let’s not forget the schools.  Schools need more guns.

pro gun insanity

This vote regarding assault rifles and limited magazines was something that absolutely stunned me, Europe, Australia, and many more around the world.

How could that vote go so, terribly wrong?  Especially with the majority of American citizens in favor of gun control?  How could Congress vote in favor of not banning citizen-accessible assault weapons and magazines 

Since this vote, confidentially, I have been eyeing my neighbors.

Who is packing around here?  Should I even let on that I am not? If I post a sign about voting for this person or that, is that basically advertising that I am as open a target as Alaskan wolves are to Sarah Palin?

SarahPalinShooting AR

clearly i cannot get past this

Because sometimes, I spend my time thinking about deeply spiritual, Quantum Physics-like issues impacting the universe—like penis size.   I wonder if it is going to come down to penis-size, arsenally speaking.  Because apparently, a lot of senators in Congress and some American citizens just plain believe in arming the bears.

i know it isn't funny

so not funny

In reflection, I cannot think of the last time I needed an assault rifle or felt one would be handy to purchase out of a vending machine, but that is just me.

And yes.  I truly can understand the reaction and the retrospective desire to have had a gun in that movie theatre , at that particular mall  , and—God— in that elementary school , but largely we must admit that the people who were actually there, the victims’ survivors, the parent’s of those children—do not wish for more guns. Indeed, they are the front-runners on gun control legislation.

And so I wonder if another point is being overlooked by the recent Congressman:  just where did those particular guns come from?

From home. 

From mom and dad’s collection.  From Wal-Mart.  From the vending machine called, Add to Cart, Point, Click, and Ship.  From the top dresser drawers in the bedroom.

I question if Congress and his mistress, the NRA, hope that we do not grasp that if we did not have such ready access to said execution equipment, would we need any, (or certainly as much) artillery with which to retaliate?

Leading up to and following this vote, there were a great many sound-bites floating through the waved atmosphere by the so-called supporters of mass arsenal availability:

“Guns don’t kill people; people kill people.” 

“The good guys need guns because the bad guys have them.”

“No one should ever be required to register their gun; what if a bad guys steals it and kills someone and it is registered under a good guys’ name?”

“It is my Constitutional right to bear arms and I will stand by and fight [yes, fight] to keep this liberty, granted to me by the forefathers.” 

And my personal favorite:

Guns:  the one right that ensures all others.”

That one gets me choked up every time.  Right to the heart of the matter.

I want to give the forefathers their due.  After spending some time researching, channeling, and reading up on the said forefathers of some 200 years ago and the “right to bear arms,” contextually speaking, this ever-cited amendment in the Constitution basically entitles citizens to a musket, an axe, and some arrows.  Maybe a cannon if you come from a large, well-to-do, southern family.  Other than those, I see nothing in the Constitution about napalm, Uzis, or .45 Glocks.

My point is never to trivialize horror.  I have cried many, many tears over this senseless, unspeakable violence.  And many times, I have fantasized about enacting retribution.

Actually, depending on the day, I can vacillate between being in favor of homicide under extenuating circumstances—for example, relatives who are certifiably criminal.  Actually, sometimes I wish we were a few notches down in the animal kingdom and I could just knock off a few nasty abusers like one of those elephants who goes after the naughty cheetah picking on the giraffes.  I can justify this action heartily in my mind (i.e. the world would be safer, kinder, freer, more just, etc.), but I cannot justify, in conscience, my desire to not become like the cancer I already grieve.

I have cried enough tears to wonder if we become a community of armed and unarmed, is that not like war?  Do we want to sit in movie theaters with extra-wide chairs so as to accommodate our newly accessorized guns?  Do we want to send our children to a classroom with a Glock taped under their teacher’s desk?  Do we want to teach our six-year-olds how to shoot?  Do we want to purchase our teenagers and eight-year old children bullet proof backpacks?  Do we want to buy new cars with a Gun Holder next to our cup holder’s?  What about blinged-out guns like rhinestone iPhone covers?  If I carry a gun, will I draw it first and my brain last?  Will I be able to hear the conversation in my heart over the blasts?

Do we truly want more guns in the hands of humanity? Are guns the neutral device—a victim in the discussion?

Because I am beginning to believe that guns have more power than I ever imagined possible.  Guns alter my entire orientation to my world.  Guns can reason for me, decide for me, pray for me, save my life, take my life, save my loved ones, kill my loved ones.  Guns can give me freedom, lock me away, give me shelter, take my home, give me friends, bring me a sense of respect from my community, keep my spouse at home, and when my back is turned, make my spouse seek refuge at a shelter of strangers.

Guns can bring God closer to me.  Guns can make me God.  Guns were given to me by God.  God himself has a gun.  If I have a gun, I am living out my faith as one of God’s children.  Guns can enact God’s justice on others.  Guns can enact God’s justice upon me.  Guns are God’s language:  love, justice, punishment, sowing, reaping, righteousness, evil, blessing.

I am more educated with a gun, less naïve, invulnerable, and in control.  Only the men and women who carried guns ever altered the course of history, stopped brutality, brought out the good in people, brought people closer.  (Look up Dorothy Day, Lucy Burns, Alice Paul, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Thich Nnat Hanh, Thomas Merton, Sister Megan Rice, Abigail in the Old Testament, and Rosa Parks for starters).

Guns can make my children feel safer.  Guns can take away my children’s safety.  Guns can keep my neighbors in check.  Guns can make my neighbors rush to my home for refuge during calamity.  Guns can be a treasured, family heirloom.  If my gun kills someone evil, my gun becomes immortal.  If my gun kills someone good, my gun becomes a disgrace.

If I shoot a gun in a church, at women and children, in Boston, in Times Square, or in my home, I am a criminal.  If I shoot a gun in a Mosque, at child soldiers, in Israel, in a civilian village in Pakistan, or in someone else’s home, I am a hero.

Maybe guns truly are the biggest casualties of the entire mess.  But just as rape is not about sex, but about power, is a gun truly just a gun?  Guns were not designed as an accessory any more than rape is an act of intimacy.  Handguns and assault weapons were not designed to kill a duck for dinner when the local market ran out.  Assault weapons, magazines, and handguns were designed for killing people.  That is their only intent and function.  To have one even with the intention to never use it may not be about killing, but it is about power by the very threat it represents, of life and death.

So if we attach no other value to a gun, even if it is never used at all, let us at least cease the meaningless argument that a gun is an inanimate object like the creepy doll my mother-in-law gave me last Christmas.  (side note—the thing has an egg for a head.  And Second-Grader B. is convinced the doll is our Elf on the Shelf that is not intelligent enough to head back to the North Pole after Christmas).

I do not know if we can all live in a world entirely without guns.  There will likely always arise a Hitler, a Hussein, a Gadhafi, a Hutu Militia, a Lord’s Resistance Army, a Bin Laden, a George W. Bush, a Nixon, a Nero, a Darfur, a Congo, an Egypt, Syrian nerve gas, an ancient Roman Army, and many, brutal dictators in favor if genocide and war crimes.

But for day-to-day life, particularly here in the states, I guess my question is this: if I cannot live next door to even my neighbors without an option in my home to kill them—what kind of existence am I truly living?

For all of the talk on freedom, am I not less free with a gun?  Is my de-escalating voice not stifled?  My mind disengaged from working its wonders?  My body mistrusted, unallowed to do what it was trained to do—defend me against one or more armed or unarmed opponents to the knock-out and not to the death?  Are my heart and soul not silenced from engaging with another human being in calling out the common good?

My life’s ripple-effect of choosing self-defense violence as only a last resort and only to the knock-out, so that I may choose non-violent techniques first, second, third, twentieth, 100th, 3000th time so that the person in front of me may also have as many spoken and unspoken opportunities to also choose nonviolence?

If dictators can use “trickle down” violence, can citizens, one-by-one not conversely enact “trickle up” nonviolence?

I hope so.  Because if I reach for violence as my first resort to any conflict, if I draw a gun, there will be someone who draws after me, and after them, and after them, until we cannot tell the difference anymore between Newtown, Connecticut, the father of a four-year-old girl, Sudan, and hell.

The .38 semiautomatic handgun may be in my father’s will.

But it will not be in mine.

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