An unexpected 6 days off school and the subsequent need for a break from the nonstop lesson-unit-classroom-assessment-etc-planning that is the life of a teacher leads me to take a few minutes to write, or rant, whichever you’d call it. My desire not to offend other Christians has kept my mouth somewhat shut, but it’s somewhat overrated. Let’s agree to disagree; I’ll try to be nice to you, you try to be nice to me, and we’ll deal with it, maybe even learn to have civilized conversations. If you don’t want to be my friend anymore, well, I do teach junior high after all. This is my story, and I’m sticking to it.
My life as a pseudo-pacifist dates back to ninth grade “Values and Decision Making” with Mr. H. What makes a war just? What justifies killing a person? Is the death penalty right? My stance since then has changed little. Rwanda was a tragedy. Sitting aside idly during WWII would have been unfortunate for everybody. “All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to stand aside and do nothing.” But is the only alternative to “nothing” “shoot everyone?” I do believe that there is a time and place for war, but it’s an awfully small place.
I personally could never justify taking another person’s life, and I find it strange that the people who are most strongly associated with standing up for the right to kill are also those who are most strongly associated with being Christians. Before I moved Kentucky, I thought that “NRA” stood for the “National Republican Association.” No joke. Not much has changed, except for my growing distaste for being connected with any group whatsoever. For me, the fact that I’m a Christian IS what makes me pro-gun control. I thought when Jesus said, “Turn the other cheek,” he meant it. Yes, I know where it got him. I’m quite thankful for it, in fact. Self-defense, you say? I’m not too worried about myself dying; I’m quite concerned about a whole lot of other people. And how is it possible to argue that we should be a Christian nation without taking that stance to a national level? I don’t have to teach my eighth graders that if you pick on someone, and they hit you, they’re not the only one in the wrong. And if you want to say we haven’t done anything wrong, that’s fine: “If you suffer for doing what’s right, you’re blessed.” Really want to argue? I’m sorry to come across as judgmental; I just honestly don’t get it.
You’ll say I don’t understand; I’ve never been in that situation. Well, yeah, maybe. Once upon a time, I moved into the middle of nowhere, didn’t know where I was, couldn’t call the police, and had a bunch of confused and very drunk drug dealers breaking into my house swearing they’d kill me. I had my trusty pepper spray in one hand and the door to my second-story balcony in the other. Then my lovely NRA-proud neighbor showed up with his shotgun. Nobody was injured (except some trash on my car, but whatever), and the incident was over. If I could go back and change things, what would I do? Would I get rid of guns, or suffer the consequences? I was (and am) very thankful for the NRA in that moment, but if I could change gun-control laws, yes, I would. Would I feel differently if I were, well, dead? And if I had the option of grabbing a gun, blowing a guy’s head off, and rescuing one of my baby’s lives from a “bad person,” would I do it? Probably. That’s why I’m against it. The last few years have taught me the value of jumping in the deep end and making the right choice until it’s too late to do anything else.
I am also a teacher, which makes Newtown’s kids my kids. I remember Columbine. Is that why I’m anti-guns? No, it has more to do with a student—my own student—that I talked to last year who admitted that he got miffed when he was drunk a few years ago, got a gun out of his closet, and almost shot his best friend. My 10-year-old shouldn’t have easy access to beer, obviously. Just as obviously, he shouldn’t have easy access to guns. I am aware that I live in a place where hunting is the norm, and I’ve talked to my kids about the fact that being anti-guns doesn’t mean I’m anti-hunting. They respect that, and I respect my students who will go into the military. I tip my hat to everyone who gives his/her life for what he/she believes in, but I know for a fact that many of my students currently openly want to join so that they can shoot people, or so that they won’t have to go to college, not because they want to defend the powerless and stand for what’s right.
I know not everyone will share my opinions. As much as I don’t get it or agree, I recognize that there are a whole lot of people who love Jesus and guns, and I’ll gladly call them family. I’ve heard your side of the story before, though, and I just wanted to share mine.