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In the early 1400s, Europeans came to the Americas. In 1776, the United States gained independence from Britain and our Founding Fathers wrote the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution shortly thereafter.

gunFlag_color-600x402From the 1400s to the 1800s, those Europeans completely annihilated over 100 Million indigenous people across North, Central and South America, 19 Million of which were in North America alone. It was an extremely barbaric point in our history.

With that in mind, it’s not particularly surprising that they worked in an amendment that allowed the people the “right to bear arms”. That seems pretty consistent with the times.

us_war_expenditureHowever, let us not forget that some cultures around the globe have deliberately evolved since that period. I would imagine we could as well. For instance, I moved to Costa Rica because they are vehemently opposed to violence. They demilitarized in 1948. Then they channeled all of the money previously used to support their military on improving education and health care.

Here’s a great read on how that decision has paid off.

War, guns and violence are extremely lucrative. The United States military expenditure was $581 Billion in 2015, dwarfing the expenditures of any other country. The nation is not well motivated to kick its dirty addiction to violence. It works too well with our economic agreement. Each year, around $45-60 billion worth of arms are traded globally. Arms are also the most (illegally) trafficked product across the globe.

In 1861 the first speed limit was introduced in the UK, for 10 mph. At that time, and in almost every attempt to create speed limits since, there have been groups of people that felt it was an infringement on their freedom. Fortunately, that is an area where we collectively decided to evolve.

I believe the United States’ obsession with guns and addiction to violence is simply a symptom of an entrenched perspective of fear. Guns are simply a means to violence.

Lao Tzu (Tao te Ching) posited that if you resolve to war, you’ve already lost. Sun Tzu (The Art of War) posited that if you choose to fight, you have already lost the battle. The Lakota Indians mourn after every battle, regardless of whether they win or lose. They believe that all fighting and war is a shameful act, no matter the reason or purpose.

“Weapons are ominous tools. They are abhorred by all creatures. Anyone who follows the Way shuns them.” ~ Tao Te Ching vs 31

I have no desire to debate gun laws or discuss statistics. I am no expert in those matters. I simply want to discuss the realities of guns and violence in the American culture. Let’s begin with some basic questions.

What is the intended purpose of the following items?

Hammer
Car
Blender
Chair
Table
Toothbrush
Gun

I think we’re all intelligent enough to understand what just happened there, so let’s move on.

What are the primary reasons for having a gun?

Kill another living being with an equal or greater ability to kill you
Kill an animal for food, fun or agricultural preservation
Kill another human
Kill yourself
Artificially elevate your self esteem and/or confidence

I can’t help but notice a common thread there…

When is a gun ever used for any other reason than to kill, or to feel the power to kill if desired?

Remember that story about the man that stormed an Amish schoolroom and shot ten girls, killing five? Many of the Amish then attended the killer’s funeral to mourn the death of the shooter with his family. It was a very raw and human moment. What did you feel when you heard that story?

Remember the feeling you got when you heard MLK give the “I Have a Dream” speech?

Or when you read the teachings of Gandhi, Jesus, Mother Teresa, Mandela or Aung San Suu Kyi?

We have idolized these sages for eons. Do you believe that any of these people would advocate for guns? It seems their stories would be much less compelling if in the end they had just thrown up their arms and resolved to violence.

gun-control-graphic2backup

 

I believe the only reason to own a gun is to have power over another living being.

You may want that power for many different reasons, including self preservation and hunting for food. But let’s be clear that guns are not intended to shoot inanimate objects. They are intended to kill another living being.

I come from Nashville, Tennessee, so let’s just agree that I’m well aware of the hunting scene and the arguments that go with it. Again, I just want to be clear that if you are a hunter, you must be willing to admit the fact that you like to kill. If you hunt and do not kill, it’s considered a fail. I think the math is self explanatory on this one.

A hunter is a killer with a uniform, a license (sometimes) and typically lots of photos of things they’ve killed that represent their joy of killing.

Outside of hunting animals, as a gun carrying citizen you are just a human that has mentally and emotionally succumbed to the fear that makes you resolve to violence as the best solution to any threat you may encounter.

As a father of four, I couldn’t imagine teaching my child to kill, anything. I’ve spent their whole lives teaching them to be love, no matter the circumstances.

arms_salesI think what is really happening here is that we all know that a complete absence of guns would be the best path to world peace (along with a reformed economic agreement). But we chalk that up to utopic thinking simply because there are so many of them out there, presumably “in the wrong hands”.

We couldn’t possibly eradicate all guns. As long as one person has one, others will feel they need one.

But this is the United States we are talking about. Since when did Americans see a problem and just roll over and say it can’t be fixed? If there is a problem in the US that isn’t getting fixed, you can be sure there is an economic reason behind not fixing it. This is certainly the case with guns and violence.

Remember when Americans used to have slaves in the United States?
Remember when they abolished slavery?

At the time, that goal seemed almost as dramatic and unattainable as abolishing guns does today. But we did it (mostly).

You can fight for your right to have guns. That’s fine. But just be clear that you are fighting for a killing tool, which happens to be called a gun.

My feeling is that we could use a lot less killing and a lot more love on this planet.

When Jesus (and many others) said, “turn the other cheek”, he wasn’t suggesting that we be passive, naïve pushovers. He was suggesting that we each be individually committed to resisting violence to the extent that we begin to foster a culture that values peace over violence.

What if we stopped focusing on the laws and rights and statistics and focused on developing a culture that rejected guns and violence, and strove for peace?


RESOURCES

Join the discussion about the NRA and Gun Lobby with Brave New Films.

Watch the full press conference where Obama announces the Executive Order on gun control.

Here is a PETITION to support Obama’s executive order.

Here is a PETITION regarding the NRA backed Republican party.

Moms Demand Action, “For gun sense in America”

This is an interesting and thoughtful perspective from a pastor, “Would Jesus Wear a Sidearm”.

Hash Tags for Twitter: #stopgunviolence #guncontrol #nra #gunsense #obama

15 Comments

  1. Kevin Miller on January 7, 2016 at 8:01 PM

    Well brother, you know I’m not a fan of guns. It wouldn’t be fair to say I’m a pacifist. Violence to me is a last resort, but I’m not against it if necessary to protect myself or my family or another. But guns? I live high in the Rockies on land, with my big family. People here claim I must have a gun for protection against man and beast. In the city, folks seem to feel the same way.

    Course these same folks think the same about meat. You gotta have it.

    I’ve been fine without either…forever. I have no more need for either than I do for a horse drawn wagon.

    So as you say, it’s not that I’m against guns, but by far and large, I see much more harm and negative come from them, than good and positive. Same as with meat. It isn’t bad in and of itself, but in today’s culture, it’s unnecessary and causing more harm than good.

    Even with hunting, which is a big deal here in the Rocky Mountains, I fail to understand guns. Where is the glory in hiding to blow away an unsuspecting animal from long distance? Nobody needs the meat that badly, but if you want it, then run it down and kill it valiantly, or at the least, use a primitive bow and arrow.

    If anyone I know out here reads this, I may be run out of town. Which I guess I won’t be able to fight since I don’t own a gun, nor eat meat to have energy to fight otherwise…

    • Jared Angaza on January 7, 2016 at 9:31 PM

      Thanks brother! Yes, I’m very much on the same page with you. And we are going the vegan route at this point as well. No animal products in our lives anymore. That’s not the point of this post, but it’s certainly a testament to my resolve.

      It is definitely disturbing to think of how many of my friends and colleagues will be disgusted with my perspective on this. I will never understand it.

      • Kevin Miller on January 8, 2016 at 5:46 PM

        We’ve done fish, eggs and some cheese for last 20 years. We do less now. Believe it’s best without, just an admitted vice along with coffee and wine at this point!

  2. Adriana Castro on January 7, 2016 at 11:38 PM

    I love the peace that you want for this world. I realized that we feel the same way.
    I am vegan too, not for health reasons but because of the cruelty towards animals.
    I wish the whole world was disarmed, that would be closer to patadise.
    I think that my only concern is the fact that the disarming won’t ve equal. Only civilians will be practicing peace, unlike the government which will keep stacking very advanced weapons.
    Why not disarm everyone? That
    Would be heaven! <3
    But I fear of the government still keeping weapons 🙁

    • Jared Angaza on January 8, 2016 at 1:50 AM

      Thanks Andriana! In the end, our world is made up of almost 7 billion people. The powers that govern those people are actually quite small, representing about 1% of the population. If individuals around the world would embrace the idea of “be the change you want to see”, we could start to create a shift. The government was designed to serve the people, and it’s the people’s apathy that has allowed governments to rule over them. In the end, it starts on an individual level. I can write all day long, but the only thing I can actually control is my own thoughts and consequent actions. So it starts there, with each of us.

      Either way, an abrupt shift would be impossible, and destructive. We need to work towards a gradual shift in consciousness, and ultimately perspective. Over time, the United States could start to be more like….Costa Rica!

  3. Caleb Miller on January 8, 2016 at 12:26 AM

    Uncle Jared, and Daddy, I completely agree with both of you. Like you said, Uncle Jared, so many people want and have guns just to feel powerful, and because other people have them. So I wonder, if no one in the world had guns, would people still want them and feel like they need them? I get the motive to have one for personal protection and defense, but again, if no one else had one, I doubt it would be near as popular of a tool/weapon as it is today.
    I agree that guns should be abolished altogether, but it definitely is one of those issues where it’s hard to think of a way to make an actual difference. You’d basically have to start a revolution. But I guess the only way to do that is to first spread the idea, which you’re doing here. It’s awesome, and I completely agree with all of it.

    • Jared Angaza on January 8, 2016 at 1:56 AM

      Thanks Caleb! I agree, an abrupt shift is almost impossible and would likely be very destructive. We need to work towards a gradual shift in consciousness, and ultimately perspective. And that comes from awareness of of the problem and awareness of how to change from within.

      The violent nature of any human always stems from fear. There is no exception. So we must first address the fear. Only then can we begin to slowly deal with the gun fetish of America.

      • Caleb Miller on January 9, 2016 at 3:54 AM

        I agree that it all stems from fear. Of many things; I think it stems from many things, but fear definitely a big reason. And spreading the word and awareness of the issue is always the first step, because like you said, it’s impossible to make a substantial difference all at once. But what needs to happen even more than making people aware, is finding people who are actually willing to take action. Any amount of knowledge and awareness won’t matter unless people are willing to take the action necessary to make a difference.

  4. Joanne Miller on January 8, 2016 at 2:18 PM

    Jared, I feel your heart and your message. Many years ago Barbara Bush said in an interview, “The future of our country lies not in what happens in the White House but what happens in YOUR house.” I believe that with all my heart. I rarely watch the news. I prefer not to be continually bombarded by the murder, rape and pillage that goes on in our country from our leaders down to our neighborhoods.. It is depressing and it is embarrassing to our great country. I love living in America. I don’t love the political scene. It is totally out of control and it reduces leaders to stupidity, violence and immaturity. Yes, I live in a bubble. I choose to do so. I have worked hard to create a Haven of Peace in my own home and because of that have raised three very responsible, non-violent and world changing children who are carrying on that legacy. I fight for love, peace and harmony and it will never include guns or any kind of violence. Your Dad and I were interviewed yesterday for a podcast on marriage. I mentioned that he and I don’t fight. A novel idea in our culture. When I say that to others they think I am living in denial or lying. Why on earth would I fight with someone I love and live with every day (over 210,000 days of my life so far). I know, from my own experience, there are peaceable ways to instill harmony in a relationship without resorting to violence in any capacity. Without fighting, arguing, killing….. The Bible tells us plainly, over and over, that we are to love one another. Hard to do when we are killing each other….sometimes with guns, sometimes with words and attitudes. The biggest and most profound means to change is to begin in the home. Be a harbinger of light and love and goodness in your family and circles of influence. That makes a difference and it is a start to a movement towards peace. I don’t think you can ever underestimate the impact a parent has on his/her child. From that little family nucleus can spread love and peace…. or hatred and violence. WE make the choice.

    • Jared Angaza on January 8, 2016 at 3:46 PM

      Thanks so much, mom. I obviously agree. We must “be the change we want to see”. You and dad have always focused on teaching us to be vessels of love. And we are all carrying on that tradition with each of our families. And that…is how we begin to curb the world’s addiction to violence. The revolution begins at the individual level, from within.

  5. Jared Angaza on January 8, 2016 at 4:02 PM

    I wonder how many people have actually read the Second Amendment?
    As passed by the Congress and preserved in the National Archives, with the rest of the original hand-written copy of the Bill of Rights prepared by scribe William Lambert:[29]
    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”
    As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, then-Secretary of State:[30]
    “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
    For a bit of context and humor, check out this parody on how it went down.
    ——
    I have a novel idea. How about if we just act like mature, caring, intelligent humans and choose non-violence and peace, regardless of our right to bear arms (in the militia…). What do you care about most? Peace? Humans? Rights? Guns? Again, I just like to be clear about what we’re actually discussing. It seems the gun lobby prefers to keep the focus on fear and rights. I’d like to turn the focus towards just being loving humans, as crazy as that might sound.

    http://www.newyorker.com/humor/daily-shouts/the-second-amendment-original-intent

  6. Dan Miller on January 10, 2016 at 10:45 PM

    However we frame our “religion” I think we would agree that our relationship with God is reflected in our relationship with others. Fear, anger and attack are a default position – a detour away from the mind of God. Any spiritual school of thought will tell us that a sword drawn is always an attack on yourself. If I attack you I am attacking myself and attesting to a world of scarcity, lack, pain and anger.

    Yes, I know, Americans are quick to defend their right to destroy others but I don’t see how that comes from “love the Lord your God and your neighbor as yourself.” For some reason I will never understand we glamorize fighting and violence in movies and asserting national pride. I love what Costa Rica has done in diverting all funds from military to education, health and national beauty. Seems to be easy enough to document the benefits. “I’m proud to be an American” ought to mean more than we can beat the crap out of anyone anywhere.

    • Jared Angaza on January 14, 2016 at 2:09 PM

      Dad, I completely agree. I imagine a world where we strive for unity and peace with the same commitment and vigor that (a large majority of) Americans cling to their guns, borders and money. I will always believe it is possible and I will always try to inspire others in that direction through my work and my example.

  7. Ashley Logsdon on January 11, 2016 at 5:27 PM

    Wow, excellent article and great comments! This – THIS is what gets me: We couldn’t possibly eradicate all guns. As long as one person has one, others will feel they need one.

    It’s the whole chicken or the egg deal – we don’t want guns, but people have them, so we have to have them to defend ourselves. So it becomes a cycle of needing more of them.

    Now I have experienced Costa Rica. I have seen a land without military, and it’s awesome. It isn’t utopia and trouble-free. Petty theft and shady people still survive. But, unlike when we visited Mexico and areas here in the states, I never felt any fear for the safety of my family (other than traipsing barefoot in the jungle in the dark with three kids. That was a bit of a safety thing).

    I agree – we start by talking about it – more awareness, more people ready to make a change. And then we become the change. I saw on upworthy the other day about a man who was mugged and ended up treating the robber to breakfast and the robber giving him back his wallet and also the pocketknife he used to rob him. Why? Because the victim showed openness and love. I can’t find the exact one, but here is a whole page of videos on being a better person – and making a difference without a single gun to persuade positive change: http://www.upworthy.com/being-a-better-human

  8. Jared Angaza » The Choice to Value Love on June 17, 2016 at 4:59 PM

    […] Here are some helpful resources on the state of gun violence and mass shootings in America. There are many more resources, and my full perspective on gun control, in my previous post, The Way of the Gun.  […]

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