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Why I’ll Never Own a Gun and I Doubt Any of My Lineage Will Own a Gun

Published on 18/12/12
by randy

This is an emotional topic. I’m not saying I’m ‘right’. I just ask for the courtesy to hear my life experience, beyond notions of judgment. I’m now entering my senior years and have had enough time in this body/mind to witness the impact of guns on our humanity. I suspect there are places for guns, but I doubt I or any in my family will ever have the spiritual awareness to use such a weapon with integrity. It really comes down to the exploration of meaning. Why are we here?

As we approach Christmas, I’m deeply moved by Jesus’ directive to love. It’s to love one another as ourselves because, in the Divine, we are each other. This is most potently brought home with the directive to even love our enemies. Another way to view our journey is to aim to ‘not cause harm’. This takes a great deal of practice, increasing our awareness and breaking free from the poisons of greed, fear and our tendency to ignore that ‘we are each other’. Some have said we’re here to just move to less harm than in a previous life. Many reach the end of life in this body with the most frequently asked question, “Have I loved enough?” Yet, in the relative world we’re continually teased back into the dualistic mind, ‘thinking’ we are here and others are out there. We carry our notions of separateness in our identities. Yet, no one escapes sickness, aging, surrendering of the body, or letting go everything. We try to ignore this, but our spiritual journey could be described as ‘fixing to die’, because that which outlives our physical bodies are the results of our actions. Poisons of greed, fear, and the ignorance from dualistic thinking are generally the culprits in the harm we cause and the lack of compassion we exhibit. We’re all effected. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes, and in a dualistic mind, we all fail. The challenge is to learn, to vow to ‘wake up’ to our ignorance, and to practice forever aiming to ‘not cause harm’. This necessarily requires defenselessness, a virtue quite foreign to our notions of American pride.

Compassion has no interest in being #1. Compassion abandons the consumptive notion that more is better. Compassion meets the suffering of those harmed and the one who caused harm. Compassion meets the suffering of the murdered and the murderer. With compassion, the only motivation for use of a gun would be love. When the action stems from greed, fear or ignorance, the consequences are messy. As a youngster I was a member of the NRA. I learned how to use and care for a gun. I wasn’t yet aware that the pheasant was ‘me’. My first kill changed me and I’ve declined to use a gun since. Please, don’t stop reading here. I’m admitting that there’s no way I can understand the mystery of your approach to guns and I’m standing outside of judgment. That would just be me making another dualistic mess.

I’m just asking for your curious mind. Can you explore some of the recent news events of the day and openly, with a flexible mind, view the devastating results which came from greed, fear and ignorance? When we act from fear we seldom have enough information and we may pull the trigger too quickly. This happened with the Iraq war that has tremendously harmed the strength and well being of this country and the world. We entered a hornet’s nest on false information and were badly stung. Actually, this has been the case with most wars. With mindful actions, as now outlined with the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, we avert such massive harm. This mindful response to others takes tremendous patience, courage, and skill. It takes a spiritual integrity that values the life of all, with a strong emphasis on what’s ‘best for all with harm to none’. It takes a practice that moves us past greed, fear and our ignorance to empathy. Let’s look at just two recent incidents that highlight this.

Recently, a Rochester, Minnesota, minister shot his granddaughter. His fear led him to put a weapon in his house. Whether he had fear of people taking his stuff (greed), or just dualistic thinking, he acted from ignorance. His fearful mind imaged an intruder. He shot causing great harm and now suffers what I can only imagine would be the deepest of life’s pains. There are now those who are proposing laws to allow us to shoot one another from this ignorance. Recently, a mother stored her target shooting weapons in her house. Her mentally disturbed son acquired access to them, shot her, and then went on to kill several school children and teachers, before shooting himself. The grandfather and the mother did not intend to cause harm. The conditions that manifested from their fear and ignorance resulted in harm that now causes the planet to suffer. Most of the massive killing we’ve seen has come from greed, greed for power. This is most evident in the brutal killings now undertaken by Syria’s Assad.

More than forty years ago I diligently trained for a position with the Hennepin County Parks. The physical training was intense and I made it to the final selection process. I’ll never forget sitting at a round table with several interviewers when one of them asked me how I felt about carrying a gun. I was stunned. I wanted the job so badly. My mouth dropped and I asked why I’d need to carry a gun. They gave their ‘policy’ response and I said I’d carry it provided there were no bullets. There was no way I was going to carry a weapon, especially in nature where we’re going to find peace. I didn’t get the job. A few years earlier, I had been an exchange student in the Philippines. I saw the effects of viewing life as ‘cheap’. I witnessed shootings and violent acts carried out from greed, fear and ignorance. My foreign parents had me carry a weapon and this bothered me deeply. That summer greatly deepened my appreciation for life and the deeper harm we can cause one another.

The gun debate so often centers around regulation. Those who have guns claim that they’re responsible and they know how and when to use them. I’m sure there are those who use them mindfully, killing from love and mindfulness as they hunt for necessary food or take another’s life for the benefit of that person. Yet, for me, killing any living being for pleasure feeds from greed and ignorance to our interdependence. Killing from fear never works out. As you can see, I have huge respect for the potential harm that guns can inflict. Anyone looking at the number of guns sold in this country and the number of senseless killings can see this. The mother of the Connecticut shooter thought she was responsible. The grandfather thought he was responsible. For me, I’d rather live without fear, spiritually sound enough to meet an intruder with defenselessness than spend fifty years armed and in fear, imprisoned in my mind. Taken one step further, the biggest question of weaponry can be pointed to nuclear arms. It wasn’t long ago when we made complete nuclear disarmament a top priority. Today we spend all our time arguing about who gets to have them. Healthy use of this technology surpasses our current spiritual awareness. This is a potential mistake from ignorance humanity can not risk.

For me, we’re here to not harm one another. Weapons produce the most harm and the deepest suffering. In my view they fly in the face of our spiritual directives. The frequent deliberate and accidental shootings that fill the local and network news are testimony to our need to address this before we blow each other up. Life is sacred. Life is precious. We’re here to love one another, to forever aim to not cause harm. This seems to be Truth rather than my individual opinion. In this season of light, let’s move beyond our limited mind interpretations of ‘right to bear arms’ and sincerely ask Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad, Moses, etc. what their thoughts about guns and nuclear arms would be. Once again, I don’t own a gun, never will, and pray that none of my children or grandchildren will.

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