Monday, November 27, 2017

Guns, Violence and Nonviolence

The mission of my organization is based on Dr. King's three evils, which he called racism, materialism and militarism. I frame the third as “violence/militarism.” This is what I say about it in my “stump speech”:

Violence/ militarism. In the Riverside Church sermon Dr. King said that a society that “A nation that continues year after year to spend more on defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” Is any of this different today? We as a society more or less agree that the Iraq war was a mistake, but when a new threat is perceived the first instinct is to address it with military means. We never really process or absorb our mistakes, we just repress them and go on to make the next one.

Dr. King said that the biggest purveyor of violence in the world was his own government. This is an issue we tend to ignore, but with a military budget the size of the next 7 countries combined, and 800 military bases in 70 countries, we have a lot of hammers with which to look for nails. 5 Trillion dollars in war spending over the past 1 years. Couldn't all that money be put to much better use fixing our roads and bridges, educating and feeding our children, and building our clean energy future?

And so without, so within. We live in a society racked with fear of each other, and armed to the teeth. Anyone without a criminal record – and some with – can carry any weapon they want anywhere they want, without training or permit or consideration for those who don't want to live in such a society. And as the statistics show, the “good guy with a gun” myth is just that – a myth – and weapons are far more likely to be used for domestic violence or suicide than for self- or home protection.

Kansas has the laxest gun laws in the country, and to this we have just added the ability to carry concealed firearms – without training or permit – on to our public college and university campuses.