I drive my child to chess class. The truck in front of me has a tow hitch that is the profile of the chamber of a loaded six shooter. I pick another of my children up from a co-op class on entrepreneurship. The suburban minivan that passes me is covered in bullet hole decals & American flags.
We go to a local minor league baseball game– America’s game. The man seated a few rows ahead of us is wearing a t-shirt that says “I plead the 2nd” with the black silhouette of an M-16 on it.
My children’s friends invite them to a laser tag birthday party. My child’s birthday party package at a bowling alley comes complete with a round of laser tag for everyone. And all the children, even my own, are excited to play, excited to shoot at each other.
Children practice lock down drills as part of their school day & are told to report the sighting of a person wielding a gun– an immanent threat– immediately.
Those same children see a man with a gun strapped to his body while at the grocery store with a parent & are told that’s not necessarily a threat, but a patriotic right we should be grateful for in this country.
Our children don’t know what to think about all these people with guns.
Someone in the city I live in decides to use his gun to stop a carjacking. But shoots the carjacking victim in the head instead. And then flees the scene.
Even closer to home, I have to ask the parents of new friends on the block if there are guns in their houses. I have to ask whether or not those guns are safely secured. I have to tell my child that I would rather forbid them from playing at a friend’s house down the street than risk them being shot and killed by someone handling an unsecured, loaded firearm improperly.
A child in another state takes his parent’s unsecured, loaded firearm next door to shoot his neighbor– also a child– his former playmate, because they had an argument. Over a puppy.
More children than I can count decide to take more handguns and automatic weapons than I can count into more institutions of learning than I can count to SLAUGHTER more fellow human beings than I can stand to count.
More humans than I can count decide to take more firearms than I can count into every corner of our American existence than I can count to KILL more of us than I can stand to count.
We do nothing.
We change nothing.
Because here– in this Land of the Free, this Home of the Brave– we’ve decided it’s okay to kill each other. We accept this. Our citizens, of all ages, kill each other. And that’s okay. That is our American reality.
What about our American religion?
What do our gods say?
I don’t know. But we can’t possibly be listening. It doesn’t really seem to matter anyway because here– no matter what God, the gods, Goddess, or the goddesses say– it’s okay to kill each other.
If it wasn’t, Goddess/gods/God/goddesses would say “STOP!” We’d hear this and we’d take decisive action to stop it.
But we haven’t, have we?
What do our holy books and stories say?
I don’t know. But we can’t possibly be reading & understanding them for ourselves. It doesn’t really seem to matter anyway, because here– no matter what the scriptures or records or mythos of our myriad faiths say– it’s okay to kill each other.
If it wasn’t, the scholars of our faith traditions might be helping us discern the texts & interpret the stories that make evident the need to take decisive action to stop the slaughter; to be peacemakers instead of wielders of the Peacemaker®.
But we haven’t, have we?
Where are our strong & varied faith communities in all this?
I don’t know. Because faith communities that supposedly subscribe to “Thou shalt not kill” or variations on the same theme are not helping us to stem the tide of bloodshed within our own borders. Because here– even if you’re a person of faith– it’s still okay to kill each other.
If it wasn’t, every priestess, minister, priest, bishop, imam, rector, yogi, rabbi, guru, lama, nun, deacon, monk, mullah, abbess, elder, druid, pastor, cardinal, swami, muhaddith, cantor, mobad, & witch in this country would stand up, demand we unite in the face of this epidemic, call up our various names for Spirit, and manifest the strength to enact meaningful cultural change.
But they haven’t, have they?
Where is the religious, spiritual & moral challenge to this national cultural assumption that it is our right to kill each other?
Because make no mistake–handguns and automatic weapons have only one purpose.
Here, that’s apparently okay.
If it wasn’t, we’d do something to make it stop, right?
Kate Brunner is a writer, healer, ritualist, & member of The Sisterhood of Avalon, studying at the Avalonian Thealogical Seminary. She is a somewhat nomadic American, homeschooling her children with the world as their classroom. She holds a BA from Tulane University, where she studied Economics, International Relations, & Religious Traditions. Kate volunteered as a presenter for monthly Red Tents and semi-annual women’s retreats before relocating overseas for several years where she hosted seasonal women’s gatherings, facilitated labyrinth rituals, and led workshops on an assortment of women’s spirituality topics. She recently returned to the US and is breathing into the potential of this new chapter of her life.