Sunday, December 30, 2012
By Arik Bjorn
When I visited Yad Vashem 15 years ago, I separated from my group and entered the Children's Memorial, not realizing what it was. I was alone for some time and became overwhelmed by the infinite regress of candlelight, by the names being read of the more than 1 million children who were senselessly murdered during the Holocaust.
I lowered my head against a rail and wept for some time.
Several days after, I was traveling through the Sinai Desert. I am grateful that I was able to be in a space so vast into which I could pitch the horrible sorrow I felt.
Today, I find myself confronted with such a sorrow again--and I think we all do as a nation. Only, I do not have the luxury of a desert around me. However, I do have something I did not have 15 years ago: a five-year-old daughter.
When I picked her up from her school today, I loved her with all the love I could muster--which is the same love I have given her since the day she was born. Unlike 15 years ago, today I understood what it was that many parents in Connecticut had stolen from them. What every parent who loses a child to senseless violence has stolen from them, from suburban neighborhoods to third-world slums to the world's all-too-numerous goddamned theaters of war.
Our nation and society has a special thirst for violence. We are not the only such nation. But we are such a nation. Personally, I don't see a shred of difference between what happened in Connecticut and what happens when a military drone kills a child "by accident." The death of any child by weaponry is obscene, immoral and damnable--and those are the kindest words one could use to describe such an act. And if you are the one who pulls such a trigger, I cannot imagine what it will be like to stand before the god of any pantheon someday.
We have every right collectively to revise our political foundations, and there is no reason that we cannot as a society revise our political foundation known as the Second Amendment--minimally--to make it damned near impossible to own munitions and firearms unless you demonstrate that you are a responsible citizen.
And I don't mean by filling out a form. If you want to own a gun, fine, then we'll make you wish you were applying to start and operate a nuclear power plant instead.
How about an 8-hour psychiatric evaluation which you must pass and the requirement of letters of recommendation from no fewer than three licensed physicians? And taxes on ammunition that make them as expensive as their weight in gold? And those are the easy regulations.
I wish we could make it similarly impossible for a soldier to fire at human beings from an unmanned plane (or a manned one, for that matter) half-a-world removed from his or her target. That's the pacifist idealist in me. But for now, I would be satisfied if our society made it more difficult to buy a bullet than to obtain a commercial driver's license.
You think you have a right to bear arms? Fine. We'll simply call it an "earned right" from now on.
And if you get so much as a speeding ticket or a DUI or any number of civil red flags, you lose that right.
Will it blaze the trail for a peaceable future of human exploration? Not by itself. Will there still be bad guys with guns? Yes. There will always be acts of senseless violence. But it will also be a start that is 200 years overdue. And until we commence such a start, we'll simply continue to watch children being gunned down and "as a nation grieve."
I am so fucking sick of "grieving as a nation." Let us ACT as a nation.