It’s Okay to Kill Each Other by Kate Brunner

Kate Brunner at Llyn MorwynionI 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.

And we?

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.

To kill.

And here?

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.

Categories: Activism, Feminism and Religion, General, Violence

Tags: , ,

14 replies

  1. Kate, I find this very shocking and heart-stopping … that this is such an everyday reality where you live, that you have to raise children in this context: it is a war zone actually. I guess you will move … what else to say: I know the disease is everywhere – may we rise up.
    Alafia … as Luisah Teish says


  2. Thank you for this call to disarm!


  3. Oh, Kate. This is breaking my heart. I’ve never lived anywhere other than this country, and I still find this incredibly disturbing and one of the most upsetting things in this country. Someone’s delusional right to protect themselves from some fictional tyrannical government should not trump my family’s right to feel, and to BE safe in our own communities. I’m far more scared of the open carry tyrants than I am of my government, and of those our police forces would have you believe are our enemies.


  4. Every day I ask myself, “What will it take? What kind of phenomenal tragedy will it take to bring about reform?” Where is our massive factory fire, or oil spill, or airplane mishap that makes people re-write the laws? But tragedy after tragedy strikes, the bodies pile up and nothing is done. (Well, ok I write a few letters to my federal representatives, but small good that does).

    I think part of why nothing is done is because to most Americans the gun does not represent killing, it represents control. Total control over their environment/situation. Most of the gun deaths are (successful) suicides.

    Well, cars represent control, too. And just as we are mandated by law to have car insurance, I think gun owners ought to be mandated to carry gun insurance. If you are a hunter out in the country your premiums are lower, and if you live in a big city your premiums are higher. Also higher if you don’t lock up your gun properly. Other than that, I’m stymied.


  5. This needs to be printed in every newspaper and magazine in North America to arouse mothers and grandmothers, aunts, sisters to melt down all those guns and build a monument to Life.


  6. It is a HUGE complicated multifaceted pathology.

    It feels so very in-my-face now after years living in Australia. I am having a hard time discerning whether it’s gotten intensely worse or whether I was somewhat desensitized to it before living in a culture that doesn’t have this particular pathology.

    Either way I am so heartsick & frustrated now. The total inaction, the acceptance of this as the American norm is just so awful. We need to start trying things– lots of things. We need our best thinkers, philosophers, scientists, doctors, nurses, teachers, artists, musicians, religious leaders, etc. to brainstorm a zillion different ways to create change around this horrible phenomenon. And then we need to start trying out multifaceted solutions. We need to do it all– look at the structure of our education systems & the ways they are damaging children, making them desperate & lethal before they’re fully grown, look at health care– including mental health services– and figure out how to provide the care needed by people & families of all ages & income levels, look at our storytelling methods to asses their impact on culture, look at how religious structures are or are not successfully cultivating compassion for our fellow citizens within their traditions, look at the guns– what we are manufacturing, what we’re selling, what we’re using & why, look at socioeconomic oppression of sectors of our population, look at racism, look at misogyny, look at the Second Amendment and see if we need to use the genius of our amazing framework to re-write and update this Amendment for this century & beyond, look at ALL of it. And free ourselves from the discord in order to actually try out as many possible positive solutions as we can create from our compassionate imagination.

    I spent the day at NASA’s Johnson Space Center yesterday. We flew to the moon and back on 2MB of computing power & calculations done by sliderule for goodness sake’s. WE CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS. We can choose to do the “hard” thing to totally re-apply JFK’s words to a completely different American challenge. But we need to at least all agree that it’s not ok to kill each other. Then we need to start trying out LOTS of possible solutions.


  7. I send money every month to the Gabby Gifford PAC I hope everyone in the FAR community will do that. It’ll help the work of Gabby and her husband to get guns under control and hopefully out of the hands of crazy young men who apparently learned as children that guns solve all problems.

    I also really, truly believe that every gun and every bullet on the planet should be melted down and the metal used to build statues of artists, authors, poets, and composers. In the U.S. alone–where there are probably more guns than everywhere else combined–that would make a lot of statues.


  8. Americans’ love affair with guns is sickening. My liberal mother had a hand gun for “protection.” I got her to sell it before I drove her across country to live with me in Maine. I wasn’t about to drive with a gun in the vehicle. I love Maine, except for the long cold winters and the hunting culture here. A friend of mine’s son was accidentally shot to death by his friend when he was 13 (they lived in another state then) and yet her husband, the boy’s father, loves guns and loves hunting. I can’t wrap my brain around that. Our senator, Angus King, is cosponsoring a gun bill to make background checks mandatory for anyone buying a gun, even if it is through a private seller. I hope he succeeds, but the powerful NRA and its supporters will probably “shoot” it down. Of course we also need to do many other things to counteract the violence that is sweeping this country, as you pointed out.


  9. Well said, sometimes, much of the time, I am very glad I no longer live in the US.


    • Love the title, and how it gets straight to the point. I feel as though it is somewhat ironic to how most of the people who are engrossed in gun culture are most likely in the deep south and are devout Christians. The concept of “love thy neighbor” flew out the window. It’s interesting to know that children are introduced to this mindset earlier and earlier with every passing generation.


  10. First of all, great title. Next, I feel the same way in regard to how its so easy for people to loose sight that killing seems to be okay here in the U.S. It’s amusing to see that gun culture is very prominent especially in the south. And it is sad to see that children get sucked into that mindset at an early age, And what I find quite comical is that the people who are most engrossed in gun culture are in the south, and on top of that they are most likely devout Christians. Bit of a shame that the whole concept of “Love thy neighbor” kind of goes out the window.


  11. I really enjoyed this post! It’s very scary that we live in a time where people are constantly worrying about who they might come across and having to ask if there are guns in a friend’s house has become a common thing. In all the posts and articles I have seen supporting guns the one consistent argument is that it is our right as a citizen to bear arms. It’s important for people who use this as an argument to recognize that this amendment was written in 1791- a time where the automatic weapons we have today did not exist, and the people who wrote the amendment could not have possibly imagined the weapons we have today would exist. This needs to be acknowledged and understood so that American citizens no longer have to live in fear of walking down the street and having a gun pulled on them as a result of a minor disagreement.
    When it comes to the religious aspect of this, I am pretty confused. All of the religions I am familiar with preach about loving everyone and living a life of peace, so it’s puzzling to see such religious people fighting for their rights to own a gun or two. If their religion is telling them to lead a life full of understanding, why do they even want to own something that can only cause pain? If their answer is for their protection…I understand, but in that case they should be fighting to get rid of guns altogether. If everyone in the country gets a gun to defend themselves, there will be no safe areas left in this country at all.


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