I know that the subject of guns is a treacherous one to navigate. The debate is also filled with ironies. A president who has the most horrific record of any on abortion weeps on national television over the slaughter of innocent school children. Years ago I read a comment on the site CatholicVote that if someone were lining up five-year-olds for execution, the country would be outraged, but the unborn do not merit such attention. I thought of that comment when the Sandy Hook tragedy unfolded and so many of my liberal Democrat friends and acquaintances expressed their shock and horror that such a thing could happen. One, in particular, expressed delight just a scant few days later that the right to kill babies in-utero (choice) would continue under "her" president. Wasn't she the same person who days before, was sickened over the loss of so many innocent lives?
Dear friends, I am afraid that too many of us have allowed politics and not our faith to inform our conscience when it comes to these matters. I have been reading the posts and the comments here and I am wondering what Kool-Aid some of these folks are drinking. When a priest who so many people admire (including myself) spends this much of his time in defense of the gun lobby, is it any wonder we're in the state we are? How can a people of faith be so fearful that we would permit something to continue that takes thousands of innocent lives every year? And by the same token, how can so-called pro-choice advocates talk with a straight face about protecting children when the platform of one of our major political parties includes a plank that says just the opposite?
There is a comment that was attributed to Gen. George S. Patton during WWII that caused quite a stir. He is alleged to have said that if he found himself caught between the Russians and the Germans he would shoot in both directions. I know how he felt because I have no love of or respect for either political party in this country. I see so much hypocrisy among my friends of nearly every ilk. What happened to the truth? I'll tell you. It has become a casualty of political wrangling and it's starting to take some of the basic tenets of our faith with it. We know our guy is a fascist, but he's OUR fascist. We know our guy is a demagogue, but he's OUR demagogue. Truth be damned! So long as our guy is wearing our label, he's free to spout all kinds of hypocrisies and inconsistencies. The only people who are entitled to redemption are the ones who agree with us.
Next thing you know, we start manipulating the catechism to justify the taking of human life. We start qualifying when it's OK and when it's not to kill. Why not just leave it entirely in God's hands?
I hear women talking about the "freedom" they enjoy to choose whether or not to end the life of their own children and the word slavery comes to mind. Too many of us have been conditioned to believe the lie that abortion frees us from poverty.
On the other hand, I hear people who apparently loathe their government speaking about the "fear" of having their weapons confiscated. People who are so afraid of what might happen that they feel it's necessary to arm themselves with lethal weapons are not free. They are held hostage by fear.
By no means do I compare the gravity of abortion to any other issue in this country, but the murder of schoolchildren cannot be excused or ignored just because the unborn have been. It is entirely possible to address both issues without minimizing the intrinsic evil of abortion. I must be a fool because I think the tragedy in Newtown is an opportunity to talk about the ironies that our so-called freedom guarantees in a way that could really open hearts and minds to the true horror of abortion. The problem is that some of the folks who like to call themselves pro-life are blindly adamant that there can be no compromise about weapons and ammunition designed to inflict maximum carnage in a very short period of time. It's hard to win an argument that you enter with little or no credibility.
Some time ago I wrote that it was not lost on me that Roe V Wade happened at the conclusion of the Vietnam War. Some people might think it's a stretch to connect the two, but I think not. I think both events point to the growing desensitization of Americans to violence. We're constantly looking ahead to the next battle. We're still not out of Afghanistan, and some people are itching for a war with Iran. They won't volunteer to fight that war, mind you, they'll just instigate until they get what they want. They will incite fear because some folks just aren't happy without a boogeyman. The real one (the devil, that is) isn't enough for them. As Catholics, we know that the best weapons against him are the sacraments Christ left us and the sacramentals advocated by His most holy Mother. But you'd never know it looking at some blogs.
We talk about a war on terror. Terror, folks, is in the eyes of the beholder. When we become that which we claim to deplore, what does that make us? Is a child whose home is bombed by fighter jets any less terrified than one aboard a jet hijacked to ram a building? Do we only care when we are the recipients of such treatment?
Take a cocktail of increased accessibility to lethal weapons, mix it with some untreated mental illness and throw in a lust for violence. Light the whole thing with political rancor, cleverly-disguised lies, paranoia and selfish disregard for others, and you get what we have. Fifty million children lost to abortion. Tens of thousands of American lives lost in needless wars and gun violence.
None of it is anything anyone in their right mind should be proud of, especially Catholics.