I had the opportunity to meet with a dear cousin who I rarely see. During our conversation, she blurted out, “Don’t ask me to give up my guns”. For a very rare moment I was speechless. I hadn’t said a word about guns. I realized how much was riding on my next statement. I asked myself, “Do I want her guns? Did I really want her to give them up?” As I sat looking at her and her husband, knowing them to be kind, generous, “God fearing” people that I love, I had to understand, what is this great divide between us? Then I got it.
“I don’t want your guns, I am not asking you to give up your guns. I am asking for people who carry guns to consider a change in attitude.” A potential communication shut down was averted and the conversation continued.
“You know why I have guns? Because Muslims are coming.” Another rare moment of speechlessness. The fear was palpable. I thought of my Muslim friends, of their smiling faces and greetings of “Salam, Shalom”, of the kindnesses that we have shared… I count it as my good fortune to have these friends, and I asked, “Have you ever met a Muslim?”
Not surprisingly, she said, “No”. And I said, “Maybe that would help.” And she said, “Yes”.
*Printed with my cousin’s permission.
Reason must rise above belief. Reach out, take time to understand, and create community with those around you. Allow the strength of our common humanity to outshine our differences. This will help eradicate the loss of spirit and mental strife that haunts many. No set of laws will change the course of violence without the exercised will of all of us. Let courage and clarity replace your fears. If we have allowed this hell, we can surely allow this heaven.
Grip of fear
Betrayer of humanity
Loosen your hold
So Life’s Breath can reclaim
What has been lost