Friday, December 21, 2012
Consider my colleague Greg Sisk's call for us to embrace -- with God's help -- the best in ourselves and our society:
"[A]ttention to moral character and cultural healing is imperative if we take seriously the calling to create the best environment for human thriving. And, at present, we have ample reason to doubt that American culture is bringing out the best in our people."
Then consider the NRA's call for an armed guard in every school, along with the stark rationale offered by Wayne LaPierre:
The truth is that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters — people so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can possibly ever comprehend them. They walk among us every day. And does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn’t planning his attack on a school he’s already identified at this very moment? How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame . . . while provoking others to try to make their mark? A dozen more killers? A hundred? More? How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation’s refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill? And the fact is, that wouldn’t even begin to address the much larger and more lethal criminal class: Killers, robbers, rapists and drug gang members who have spread like cancer in every community in this country. . . .
I call on Congress today to act immediately, to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every school — and to do it now, to make sure that blanket of safety is in place when our children return to school in January.
Is LaPierre asking us to embrace the best in ourselves and our society? These remarks reflect the power of fear, but they do not reflect a Catholic understanding of engagement with the world. I have a hard time imagining John Paul II teaching us that the answer to gun violence is more guns because "our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters." I don't resent gun ownership, but I struggle to reconcile the rhetoric in which gun rights are sometimes embedded -- fear of the other, withdrawing behind the power of the gun, simplistic responses to evil -- with the call of solidarity and the exhortation to "be not afraid."