I’ll be one of the first people to admit that I wish things were like they were 20 years ago. I was a teenager, and the world was mine for the taking. I was in college, and I had a ton of places that I would go “conquer.” My friends and I played soccer once or twice a week, and I knew El Paso and Juarez like the back of my hand. There was little to no violence there. The Columbine shootings were not even “a thing” back then. We solved our issues in high school the old-fashioned way. No guns, all fists.
The US Congress and the President got together and passed a pretty good — albeit not perfect — gun control bill. Yeah, Clinton and Gingrinch shut down the government over budget disagreements, but none of the Republicans said that they wanted to shut it down on purpose, or because Clinton was not an American. Things were much simpler, from my point of view.
And that there is the key phrase in all this: MY point of view. In every generation, there has always been a “golden era” where everything was pretty good. Taxes were low. Politicians were honorable people. We fought wars for righteous causes. I remember my grandfather telling me about the 1940s and 1950s with a little bit of glee. He would even hum songs from that era as he thought about it.
Dad was the same way. For him, the golden era was somewhere between the late 1960s and the early 1970s. By the end of the 70s, he would become a father, and things certainly got complicated then.
As I read the local newspaper website today, I got curious and headed over to the “letters to the editor” section and found this letter from a local resident. In it, he gripes about gun control and political correctness, and about the “lack” of God in our government. Check it out:
“Another mass shooting has occurred in yet another school in our country, and the president of the United States has once again stepped up to the microphone and blamed the carnage on guns. Not a word was spoken about the spiritual deficit that exists in our country today because of an ungodly political correctness that has been accepted in America. Ours is a country where once God was honored and children were taught about his goodness and love.
There were definite standards of right and wrong, and children were made aware that God sees all that we do. Many of today’s youth are sadly lacking in this education and are no longer taught that Satan is real and active in our world today. A terrible price is being paid for the lack of this education. Since the separation of God from our government, evil is now accepted as good. It is considered right to allow women, by choice and by law, to have their unborn babies killed for any reason. It is no wonder that life has been cheapened. Our young people, in their formative years, freely watch movies and read books that negatively affect their minds, and play video games full of violence and slaughter in the name of entertainment. Without God and his standards being impressed upon their minds, evil and perversion have grown and overtaken our country through laws making wrong seem right to those who do not know God’s word.
Mr.President, until you and the law-makers and judges in America begin acting upon the Christian principles that many of you claim to have, there will only be more and more violence and crime and senseless killings, no matter how many gun control laws you make. What is needed is “God control.” He is the only one who can heal the sickness of this nation.”
My first criticism of this letter was to point out that the “spiritual deficit” has nothing to do with gun violence. Plenty of righteous people have taken up arms and killed many out of a sense of religiosity. The second criticism was that there has always been a separation of God from this government. Though the line has been blurred by the words and actions of many in government over the years, the line is still there. This is a country where the most unbelieving of unbelievers have a God-given right (if you’ll pardon the expression) to life, liberty, and all those other good things that we are all given out of the fact that we are human.
This person is basically stating that we are seeing gun violence because there is no inculcation of religious values in young people. There is porn and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, or whatever, instead. But it is not up to the government (the President, law-makers and judges) to do this for us. It is up to parents and the adults in our communities to “put the fear of God” in children, so to speak. This person makes it sound like the excessive gun violence we are seeing in some pockets (mostly cities) in the country is some sort of punishment by God, the same God that this person claims is full of goodness and love.
I hardly ever dive into religion on this blog because I am more about science than religion. A, T, C, G… That is the code that I like to read. But I will also admit to you that I am a believer in a higher power and that I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. I’m a Christian. As a Christian, I can tell the writer that the government has zero to no business telling anyone what to believe, much less to act “upon the Christian principles” of anybody. Jesus laid it out very clearly that there should be a rule of law. He subjected Himself to the judgment of the courts of His day.
We should all be that principled.
No, what we need to stop gun violence is sensible gun control, as I’ve stated over and over and over. Even the most perfectly Christian person is prone to act upon their impulses and do some messed up things if there is a gun nearby.
(But what if there’s a knife? Should we outlaw knives? I’m yet to see a knife mow-down a large group of people.)
What the writer of that letter to the editor is calling for is understandable, though. He is looking at the current situation through a lens of his “golden era”, when he didn’t see or hear about mass shootings in schools and attributed it to some sort of government-mandated religious teaching in the education system. He does this instead of attributing it to the proliferation of guns of all types and capacities, instead of seeing the world through a lens of today. And I really can’t fault him for that. We all do it.
I just wish that our policymakers and others in positions of authority saw the problems of today and solved them with the solutions and technology that we have available today. Thinking that you can interpret the Constitution to mean what it was intended to mean back in the 1700s is dangerous…
That’s another thing, by the way. When Thomas Jefferson said that the “tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants,” he was describing a sort of Liberty that changes and evolves, that is “refreshed.” So it is hilarious to me to see “patriots” use this quote to advocate for going back to “the way things were” (which is nothing more than a White utopia where minorities of all shapes, sizes and sexual preferences don’t exist because the government said they didn’t exist).
No, dear writer of the letter to the editor, things are not the way they were. They are the way they are, and we must deal with them as such, always holding true to the very cornerstone idea that religion and government shall remain separate entities, lest we end up with a theocracy in need of some very harsh refreshing of its own.
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
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