Give Peace A Chance

A Call For Total Disarmament

“They won’t give peace a chance, it was just a dream some of us had.”
California, Joni Mitchell, 1970

My little university town is the best. People at the university bring inspiring speakers to their many auditoriums, many for free, and most are open to the public. Talk about reducing the barriers to knowledge.

Recently I saw a lecture given by Arun Gandhi, the grandson of Mohandas K. Gandhi. I’ve spoken about violence before in this blog as an element of mental health and what amazed me to hear him speak is how much his words carry the same vibration I feel from mine, not that I’m ego-centric or anything. All of us are ego-centric, really, how could we be otherwise? I take care of me, right? But there are a whole bunch of other “MEs” out there and we have to live with each other. As I have told my son since he was born: Think beyond yourself.

Mr Gandhi talked about “anger journaling” in which you not only record the anger but try to imagine a peaceful resolution; how anger is so much a part of our world and culture, is a part of your emotional life, and can even be useful with direction or redirection; and disdained punishment for children suggesting penance for parents instead, an interesting non-violent approach to child-rearing. He was preaching to the choir, as the people in this audience are already promoting non-violence.

How do we reach the people in authority and power who abuse power and the use of force? One of the questions that came up was about gun rights. Mr Gandhi said he could see no reason for the common people to own guns.

I shall digress a moment. My father was an accountant when I was very small and then became a deputy sheriff for the county we lived in. When Dad put on his uniform and strapped on his gun, his attitude took a small shift. He became the “cop” or the personification of the job description, and not so much the man, the human being. He had a job to do.

Dad repaired guns and made leather holsters as a side line to earn a extra money to support his fishing habit. Back then police officers were not paid much. His personal guns were locked in a flimsy hand-made cabinet with easily breakable glass doors so one could admire the collection. Other guns were strewn about the house in various stages of repair. Never loaded, but nonetheless. We kids knew NEVER to touch the guns. Any of them or piece of them. We lived under the threat of God and Dad and not in that order.

Gandhi was saying we mistake in our society by controlling our children with fear. We didn’t fear Dad and the guns. They were his business, part of his livelihood with which he was able to take us fishing. It was a point of respect for his superior knowledge that we honored his words and didn’t touch his work. We didn’t fear the guns. We knew how to take them apart, how they worked, how to shoot them, and how to clean them. The guns were not violent. He never used them in violence toward us. We were never allowed to point them at each other or another human. EVER. As far as I know he never had to use guns in violence in his work, though as a jailer he must have come up against it.

The guns were not violent. The people, criminal or otherwise, who used them could be. When Mr Gandhi said he didn’t understand why common people wanted or needed guns, I felt a disparity I cannot help but comment on. Beyond the hunting question, which is a different kind of need and different kind of gun, most of the people I know who want their guns only want them as a point of resistance against the powers that be. I’m talking about the police departments and the military who are paid by your tax dollars and are supposed to be protecting you. Certainly their job is dispersing criminal action, but in the moment of crisis, many mistakes are made by police, by citizen patrols, by nations (the post-9/11 never ending war is perpetrated by US, the U.S. When will it end?).

I’ve often thought of my little essays as “anger essays”; something upsets me or ticks me off, or I find the truth, and I have to get it out. But I don’t feel good about getting it out unless I’ve thought of some sort of solution or resolution. Some essays take more work than others getting to the feel good part.

Here’s my FEEL GOOD proposal: If we are going to call for the disarming of the common people, we must also call for the disarming of all manner of military, police forces, and nations, right on up the line. These authoritarian forces don’t use their force only against criminals. Unfortunately, force is used against the common hardworking person, sometimes in error, sometime not. Either way, we GRANT these people, through their employment, the use of deadly force. If we are paying them, then we are just as guilty. Isn’t this violence perpetrating violence? Disarmament would even the playing field. So the choice would be: everybody is armed and has access to the same firepower, or nobody is armed, top down.

Disarmament could generate a whole new genre of art: art for the sake of peace. No guns allowed. Old violent movies and books would become cult items or curiosities. I’m liking the total disarmament idea. Of course, I’m a mom, and after having to deal with blood and gore throughout my life and the blood and gore of CREATING A MIRACLE called babies, I’m not into creating blood and gore just because you can or, worse, because you can make money from it. That’s just shameful.

We should be gardening and cooking and eating and making a few babies. Peace.

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