True to Myself

It was the prevalence of guns in the US that worried me most about venturing to a new country for college. It kept me up in the night with fright. I would awake feeling “Don’t shoot — I’m Canadian!” burning through my body. Somehow I felt that being from a peaceful culture would protect me from the insanity of the gun toting culture in which I was about to immerse myself.

I never dreamed I’d be more than just a temporary visitor in this world. I didn’t know I’d live here, that when I’d teach in the schools I would see my students taken away in handcuffs, that I would hide my class in the corner behind the bookshelf during a lockdown, that I would send my own children to public schools in an age when people talk of arming the school staff. How could I possibly have imagined such a world? This is unthinkable stuff for such an evolved society. I weep at this very moment for my own loss of innocence and the current climate of this country. I want my 18 year old self to never know these pains. I want my own children to never know these horrors.

Many point to these events as the reason for homeschooling. Perhaps it is a valid reason for them but I am compelled to be a force for change in the face of fear. Shootings happen everywhere, not just in the schools. Over the past six months I have felt strongly that my family belongs in public school in part because we need to learn compassion and we need to demonstrate optimism, hope, and love. Those who are at risk for performing desperate acts are those most in need of help. What hope is there for the next generation if the happy, healthy families all remove themselves from the community schools? Who will demonstrate a better way to live? Who will reach out with love? When unthinkable things happen and my facebook feed erupts with [sometimes quite self-righteous] exclamations of “this is why I homeschool!” my soul bleeds. We should not be bickering between each other to justify the personal decisions we have made for our personal situations, we should be working together to heal these wounds and create a better world. As many if you know i have yearned to homeschool. The more I prayed the more I felt that schools need to be saved and that my family belongs in public schools. I would have fun homeschooling, and I am sure I’m capable of the job, but I need to expand my focus to more than just my two precious boys and make a difference in their lives as well as in the lives of their classmates. We need to demonstrate love and service and compassion to all. That is our calling.

Returning to the guns, I still cling to my strong feelings on the subject. I know they are not shared by everyone, even my husband and I do not see the subject the same. He tells me they are fun to shoot and that he could see himself owning one at some point. I hear “fun to shoot” as making a game out of killing, and it is not a game. While we see this issue differently we are both respectful of each other, and I believe we are both right. Pacifism is not for everyone but I would not be true to myself if I abandoned it. Just as a good soup requires multiple ingredients, a healthy relationship requires multiple perspectives.

I have friends who are avid hunters. I don’t ask, but I hope they use every part of the animal, and that they are respectful and grateful to the soul that gave it’s body for their food and their sport. Certainly there is a place for hunting in our society. Do I consider it a sport? No, but I respect it’s place in a responsible society.

I have friends who have armed themselves to protect themselves and their property. I don’t ask, but I hope they have followed all the appropriate safety procedures, in addition to the legal ones. They are within their constitutional right to own such things even though I will not, and I struggle to understand the desire. I will never own a gun. I will never shoot a gun. I hope to never hold a gun. I could never shoot another being. Many feel it’s important for their self-defense but I see it as a sure way to escalate a situation and ensure carnage.

I could never live with the grief of knowing I had taken another life, no matter how depraved. I would rather be shot than shoot, at least I’d go with a clear conscience. This is to say nothing of the countless accidental shootings. I could not handle the guilt of knowing that something I owned, even if I hadn’t pulled the trigger, had taken a life. I do not believe that we will create a greater society with more guns. I believe we need more education, more compassion. I believe we need to teach and practice tolerance. I believe we all need better coping mechanisms. Yes, I believe we need to take a much more invested look at mental health. If we can improve the lives of all our neighbours we can reduce our risks without holing ourselves up in a panic room and hiding from the world. We shouldn’t have to live in fear, but more guns doesn’t solve the underlying problem, and while it takes away the fear of some, it creates a greater fear in others.

This is not the world I want for my children. If I want a world of peace I need to demonstrate peace. I think we owe it to our children.

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8 Responses to True to Myself

  1. Kiersten says:

    Amen! It’s kind if ironic, though. My dad is Canadian and he’s a gun owner. In the US.

  2. Lisa says:

    Another well written and thoughtful post.

    It is interesting that a fear of my children being shot has never been anywhere on my list of reasons we homeschool. It is also interesting for me, that I grew up a stone’s throw from what some people consider one of the most dangerous cities in the US, and I grew up quite innocent – innocent of gun violence and otherwise. Granted, my particular city is very safe place to live. But even today, as a 45 year old woman, I still don’t live in fear. There are places I won’t go either by myself or after dark, but I think that is just using my brain.

    Gun ownership is definitely a hot and tough topic. I personally can’t see a reason for assault type weapons and large magazines. From that standpoint, I think I am for some forms of gun control. But, I don’t think we would be a safer society if all guns were banned from law-abiding citizens. I do think that they should be registered and owners and their families should be required to be educated, etc.

    And while there are horrible stories of gun violence, there are other stories – not so widely publicized – of lives saved. If it came down to it, could I pull the trigger, to save myself – maybe. Could I do it to save my children from being killed, or otherwise harmed – YES!

    You may or may not have heard of the woman who saved her daughters and herself by shooting an intruder in her home. This was after she tried to hide from him. If he would have robbed the house and left, she would not have shot him.

    I know of someone who was camping and some people came to bother him and his family. All it took was for him to point the gun at them, and they left. Granted, it may not have ended that way, and sometimes it doesn’t.

    We don’t own a gun, and while I have shot a few (all at targets). I hope I never have to shoot one at a living being. I truly wish they were never invented. But they are here, and just don’t think that only those who want to hurt should be allowed to have them.

    We need to have compassion, and we need to do what we can to help those who will hurt, but I feel very strongly that there are those for whom help will only come in the next life.

    Those are my views right now, but it is a topic that I am thinking about, and am open to considering other options.

    • Zen Mama says:

      There’s so much goodness in here Lisa I don’t know where to start. I am so glad I had time to get to know you because you are a true gem. I really appreciate that you are able to thoughtfully think things out for yourself instead of mindlessly repeat someone else’s talking points.

      I don’t believe that we are designed to all agree, but I believe it is so that we an learn to listen to each other and appreciate the differences. I need to be true to myself and remember to be open minded with those who feel differently. If they were all like you that would be a very easy task.

  3. mcinsane says:

    Beautiful post. I agree on so many levels. I think that neither side of the issue has the answers. I don’t know that there really are answers right now, except, as you said, each of us doing our part to make more peace.

  4. Andrea says:

    I can still remember the horror you felt when Red turned everything into a toy gun. As I read this I realized how different our backgrounds are on the subject. I grew up around guns. Lots and lots of them. They were to be used carefully, just like the machanics tools and the unthinkable amounts of wood working machinery that is my dad’s life. Never once had I seen a gun as a killing game. It was target practice. Like archery. Did I mention there were a lot of guns?

    But my perspective doesnt mean others will not see guns as a weapon. Over Christmas my very conservative father and ultra liberal brother had a conversation on the issue. It didnt last long because they agreed on all the points that were brought up. I’m not sure where I was going with this or if I even had a point. I think that it might have been if those two could agree on the changes that this country should make when it comes to gun control, then we should all just step back from political affiliations, look at it logically, and there is a reasonable solution.

    I love that guns are not something you condone. Simply because it shows how much you love your neighbors, whoever they may be. If everyone loved that much guns would not be an issue, even if people still owned them.

    • Zen Mama says:

      Thank you, Andrea!
      I think the majority of Americans, if they can have an honest and thoughtful conversation, would be like your dad and brother and come to a quick agreement. We would all do well to turn off the tv and actually listen to each other. Your family is a great example of that. Good people. 🙂

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