Friday, April 24, 2009

Pleased for you to know....

That Skinner House Press has released the book I've been working on for several years with Alicia Hawkins. It's a book of resources and session plans for small groups that want deep conversations about important issues.

We wrote it for UU congregations' Small Group Ministry programs, hoping especially that very small congregations would find this approach easy to manage. But we also imagined that families, women's groups, and book groups might benefit from these conversations.

The book's Website has more information, and you can order the book from the UUA bookstore. Every person in a group should have a book of their own, and there is a quantity discount.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The lack of Answers about Guns

David comments below that he feels much safer in places where people carry guns and is therefore against any kind of gun control. Also, he comments that since guns are so ubiquitous there would be no way to get all the guns out the hands of the "bad guys."

My thoughts, in no particular order:

It is certainly true that there are a lot of guns around, and that getting them out of circulation would be a massive, probably multi-generational problem. However, all that means is that if we want to end gun violence, we ought to get crackin'

I think it is worth noting that a pistol-packing public is of small use against these mass shooters; they are almost all suicidal and take out their victims too quickly for anybody to respond before damage is done. Many victims are children; surely we were not expecting them to have guns?

Also, although this has not yet happened, even in pistol-packing parts of the country, it's easy to imagine that would-be heroes firing at a mass-shooter could kill bystanders in the fray (there's a reason police practice through their whole careers) and further the carnage.

While it will no doubt be true for a long time, even if we do get crackin', that bad guys will be able to obtain guns, it is also true that (1) at least some of these mass shooters, like the last one, seem to have "cracked" and done their violence without the kind of planning that it takes to get contraband, and (2) the fewer guns there are, and the more illegal they are, the more likely that the authorities will be alearted to a here-t0-fore law-abiding citizen bumbling around in the underworld trying to get a gun.

It seems that these mass shooters have a sense, not only of rage but of entitlement; they seem to think that using guns is a natural and reasonible thing for an angry person to do. That sense of entitlement would also be reduced. If only criminals had guns, people who considered themselves ordinary, law abiding citizens would be less likely to resort to them.

Finally, I certainly agree with Robin, that this epidemic of angry, violent men must be tackled with understanding and social interventions besides gun control if we are to al live well together in this increasingly small world.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

More Carnage

Today a man whose wife had told him she was leaving him up and shot his five kids, then himself. That'll teach her..and her sisters with uppity ideas.

The map of deaths caused by men who control "their" women by killing them would be, I imagine, without any green space, such is the rampant nature of this drearily familiar story. It happened in my very neighborhood, and, no doubt it has happened in yours. And it seems possible that at at least many of those deaths could have happened without guns, given the fact that few women can beat off an enraged man. But the idea of a man killing five of his children by, say, stabbing or strangling and then somehow doing away with himself without resort to guns...that staggers the imagination.

My map has a sub text. How many more will have to die because we can't find a way to control handguns in our nation? So I've added Mass Domestic Violence to my map. It's the red markers.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

A Map of the Carnage

Three more "mass" gun deaths today...yet another man taking his disappointments out on the world. Yesterday it was 15 dead.

I've been thinking about making a memorial list of these kinds of deaths and I did it this afternoon on Google Maps. It's here. Because I'm especially interested in churches, I added the incidents from churches, even though "only" one or two persons died. Yellow Flags are incidents that happened in schools, red flags, religious institutions (there was one synagogue murder a few years took place on Rosh Hashana)

It doesn't add up to many people; more died in traffic accidents every day than have died in these kinds of multiple, innocent death gun incidents. Many more died in war. And many, many, many more people have died in the routine, one-at-a time shootings which are the background noise of our lives. A jealous man, a robbery, an anger, an accident, and somebody is dead.

There is so much sadness and violence in our world. Widely available guns make it worse. How many markers on the map will it take, I wonder, before we decide to do something about it?