What feeling do you get from this image?
More and more Americans, many of whom would be considered “decent people”, are buying weapons for self-defense. Is this really the best response to the perception of an increasingly violent society?
We each need to answer this for ourselves, of course, as we do all ethical questions which face us in life. My hope is that arming yourself does not become a reflexive response to unexamined fear.
Violence is not the opposite of peace. Fear is the opposite of peace. Peace is an active attitude of trust, contentment, compassion, serenity and gratitude. Fear robs us of peace. We expect the worst, while buying into the idea that danger is always lurking outside the door.
What are the odds that you will find yourself in the position to shoot, or even threaten another human being with a gun? The odds vary by where you live, those with whom you associate, your personal habits, and your level of reactivity.
Every morning I walk by a tent encampment in a nearby park. Assuming that you live in a home, do these people have more to fear than you? Very likely so. Life is dangerous for those who lack safe housing, whether it be an encampment, a shelter, or home in an area with high levels of criminal activity.
This leads to the question of why a growing numbers of individuals, whom many of the “homed” fear, are “homeless.” We all know the answers–destructive personal habits, poor financial choices, mental health issues, or a criminal history which makes housing and employment difficult.
Why do people commit crimes? The answers overlap with why people lack homes.
Rather than spending your time buying guns, attending gun safety training, and going to a shooting range, what about making your community a better place for all people? Work for candidates who choose not to promote fear to get elected. Volunteer for organizations that provide jobs, affordable housing, job training and support, addiction assistance, and mental health counseling. Or use some of the money you save by not buying guns to start your own campaign or organization!
Peace trumps fear every time, my friends.