In the wake of recent events that have occurred in the US, today I start with a spoken word poem I wrote a while back:
Make us children again
We call ourselves your children, but don’t act like it
As the wrinkles form on our skin, they begin to mesh into fences
Informing us that it is now our job to cage our creativity
As a child, everything is draped in disguise; language itself becomes an illusion
Peering through the lenses of a glossy eyed child, every object becomes an endless possibility
In the fall, a pile of leaves becomes a heap of hope, for once combined with the wind
They will dance with space itself, spinning around and leaving streaks of spectral colors
As child and nature begin to mingle with one another, they will be able to call themselves brothers
In the winter a simple pile of frozen water becomes the blueprints for a fortress, or a sound foundation for the formation of joyful snowman.
And when Christmas comes around, it really is about Santa, because children don’t have to be reminded about good will towards men
In your name, we will harm one another
The only part of youth we’ve retained is selfishly competing for the love a parent who doesn’t play favorites
Help us remember the nice days when all that we needed to make a friend, was to say hello
And if we didn’t speak the same language, a hug would suffice
That the only judgment we had to make, was to see who won the race, and who truly was a rotten egg
When we walk out into the world, all we care about is getting from point a to point b
We simply forgot when we used to remember that x marked the spot, to treasures unknown to everyone else
But simply making us smaller, or making us younger wouldn’t be enough
Help us to renew our hearts, and undo the day when we had to incarcerate our innocence
Save us from the moment when we saw vivacity vacate our eyes
Let us wage world war wonder
Not only to think outside of the box, but the color outside the lines
To get dirty, to keep daring to ask why even if we’re scared
To relearn the lesson that sharing is caring is heavenly wisdom, not a childish expression
To do our part, to not cut in line to get ahead; you taught us at a young age that loving thy neighbor just means including them in play time
Reteach us to play furiously and love fiercely
We’ll see that flash of brotherly love, followed by the thunder of laughter
And God, when we ask, how to treat each other, when we ask, how to find you,
Remind us, to just look in the smiling face of a child
Like any other part of life, the world itself is a coin with two sides. There will always be an ugly side, but what matters in the end is whether we choose to add to its beauty through positive action, or to spread the shroud of darkness. Cultures throughout history have used the image of the child to not only represent untainted innocence, but to represent the hope for humanity itself.
Youth is the representation of everything we once were, and the potential of everything we could be.
The Right To Bear Arms
Since the passing of the Bill of Rights, there has been much debate over the implementation of the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms. Many of the framers of the Constitution did believe in arms as a method for personal protection, as long as said weapons didn’t pose a significant threat to the general public.
As one might imagine, the idea of a “significant threat” was much different in the 18th Century than it is today. What many people fail to consider in this contemporary age is that a gun in the 18th Century meant a musket that fired a single shot from gun powder and took several minutes to reload. Although it could mortally wound someone, it was nearly impossible to cause any mass damage.
Additionally, the right to bear arms also allowed households to have these guns in the case of a military emergency, given that when combined, these weapons could make the difference between victory and defeat in battle. This rationale was both logical planning and sound strategy, especially in the early formation of a new country. Although there was a sustained fervent debate over how the amendment should be implemented, the fact was that mass gun violence was relatively unlikely.
However, that is no longer the case today.
All first world countries around the globe have strict gun (and usually general weapon) laws and as a result, significantly lower – if barely existent at all – gun violence. All except for the United States. I am a fervent believer in the fact that if the Founding Fathers saw the state of the country today, with its rampant gun violence and mass shootings like clockwork, they would change or repeal the Second Amendment without hesitation. They would also be appalled at the fact that we’ve let the state of our society escalate to this level.
Confucius once said: “Never give a sword to a man who can’t dance.” Essentially, this means that if someone can’t appreciate the vibrancy and value of a life, he is in no way fit to end it. Thus, the last thing anyone should do is equip him to do so. And it seems that not only can many of us not dance, most of us can’t even hear the music anymore.
For any responsible party – be it a parent or an entire government – if the ones you look after are unfit for something, you take action. If we give our children a potentially dangerous object and they don’t use it correctly, we take it away from them. It is no different as a citizen of a nation. We agree to the paternal nature of a government, particularly and especially in regards to safety. So if we can’t use our weapons responsibly, they should be taken away.
Now the implementation of such a plan is not as easy as it sounds, given that not all people use their guns irresponsibly; but serious action is required to limit firearm access in one way or another. I’ve always found it both intriguing and unfortunate that general opinions on gun laws never change after a mass shooting. The Aurora theater shooting happened mere minutes from where I grew up, and I would hope that it wouldn’t take a mass shooting in the community of every naysayer on gun control to change minds.
An Ever-Present Choice
We all always have the personal capacity to add to the beauty of the world, or to mar it with darkness. I have always been a firm believer in the fact that the world needs balance, so there will never be a time of only shining moments.
The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary was a deep wound in the heart of our nation. But when there is a dark cloud, it’s up to those who feel sympathy for suffering, and a fidelity to their common man, to stand up for what is right, and send light piercing through the clouds once more in a wonderful show of the truepower of the human spirit.
The choice is always ours.
The beauty of young life never seems to be underappreciated. Even the coldest heart can be melted by an innocent smile.
The journey of maturation is fraught and fought with difficulty and disappointment, but no one – under any circumstances – has the right to rob a young soul of taking that journey. That is the right of a child.