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These articles are writen by Fr. Robideau, Hermit for the Diocese of Lansing
Gun Control or Self Control?
We have all heard people pick up an instrument for the first time. It sounds horrible. We do not blame the instrument for the bad sound. We blame the musician. An instrument is only as good as the musician who plays it. We keep in mind here that personal preference or personal taste is not at play in this example. It does not matter if one likes the sound of a bagpipe or not. The truth is that either the bagpipe is played well or it is played badly. The sound is not the bagpipes fault (assuming we are talking about a set of bagpipes that are not damaged and are properly tuned).
This brings us to the question of gun control. A gun, like an instrument is only as good or bad as the person who picks it up. We say “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” This is true. Some want to think that if people did not have guns then they could not kill. This is not true. There are knives, swords and pencils for stabbing, rope for hanging, choking or dragging, pillows for smothering, water for drowning, pills for poisoning, shovels for burring alive, baseball bates, hammers and rocks for bludgeoning, cars for hitting and running over, buildings, planes, bridges and cliffs for pushing off of… (and the list goes on).
In fact, guns are not the cause of death at all. Rather, we look at the real problem. The gun is but an instrument and it’s use is but an effect. We need to ask what is the cause of the effect? What is the real problem? When we solve the answer to this question, then we can stop the horrible effects the problem has, the killing of people with whatever weapon or manner they choose to kill with.
The real question is why do people feel as if killing is ever a good or appropriate response to whatever is going on in their life.
This question leads us to investigate societal problems rather then gun problems. The societal problem is a more difficult question and so many want to ignore it. It is easier to just control the guns and feel like we are doing something good when in fact we are not. Well! Are we then willing to control pencils too? Kids can kill kids in school with those things. They are lethal weapons and they are allowed in school all the time. Or pillows? A husband or wife could kill their spouse as they sleep. Should they be outlawed too? How many laws need to be made to control the symptoms while the problem continues to rage unchecked?
The real problem, if we are honest with ourselves, is that people are taught and allowed to believe many bad things. Here are just two examples:
- If it feels good then do it. What if killing you would make someone feel good right now?
- Self control, self-restraint, simple civil behavior is seen as restricting self-expression. With this thinking, anger is just another form of self-expression.
I remember a time when my nice was about 5 years old. She was hitting me as a form of entertainment. In other words, she felt like hitting me, it made her feel happy. I told her that it was not appropriate for a child to be hitting an adult, that it was disrespectful. My sister looked at me and said that she was not hurting me. She defended her Child’s right to self-expression over the principal of respect for others. It was easier to tell me that no one was being hurt (no harm, no fool mentality) than it was to correct her child’s behavior. She chose the easier path. She wanted her child to like her so she refused to correct her child and call her to proper social behavior. I looked at my sister and told her that that was not the point (that I was not hurt) it is wrong for her to hit people. She then rolled her eyes and told her daughter to stop. My sister treaded me like I was the bad guy for defending right behavior.
For society to function, there have to be norms of behavior and consequences for miss behavior. People need to learn respect for other’s rights, especially at young ages when we are most malleable. This is not to say that we brainwash them or indoctrinate them or use any other unsuitable form of teaching. The goal is not to put everyone in a mold. Nor is the goal to teach them that they are not allowed feelings. Rather, the goal is that they understand that they live in a society with other people who also have rights, the same rights. They need to learn that they have the right to swing their arm, but that that right ends at the tip of another persons nose. This is to say that feelings are good and people have a right to their feelings, but the expression of those feelings must be subject to reason and certain social expectations.
Feelings are an important area for concern. Whatever happened to that beautiful saying when a child would cry and through a temper tantrum, “I will give you something to cry about!”? We cannot just let children violently express their feelings. They need to not suppress their feelings, but learn how to appropriately express them. We also cannot just let them walk away stomping their feet in disgust. Not violent per say, but not appropriate either. When people are allowed to have their feelings “their way,” they learn that the expression of those feeling can be “their way” also. Life is not always about having it MY WAY! We live in society and so we must all get along by steeping up to the plate, curb our feelings and behavior and meeting certain societal expectations. These do not take away from the dignity of the human person’s right to self-expression, but enables them to do it in a way that rights, dignity and respect are all preserved and protected for everyone.
When we do this, then lashing out, doing violence and killing people will become less and less an option in the lives of most. Then we can feel safe again with having pencils in school and sleeping next to our spouse with a pillow.
When it comes to gun control, let us deal with the real problem – PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.
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