Lerner, Gun violence in America

Rabbi Lerner
Rabbi Michael Lerner. Photo by B Hartford J Strong / Wikimedia

Gun violence in America

by Rabbi Michael Lerner – Tikkun

In a society which has never acknowledged its violent foundation from the genocide of Native peoples, to slavery, the violent overthrow of governments around the world in order to impose regimes that favor US corporate interests, its brutal war against the Vietnamese people, its recruitment of young people into a pre-army ROTC, and its romanticization in movies and TV of super weapons and violence, it is no surprise that it is easy to convince men that “real men” use weapons and violence to get their way in the world.

Even Obama, the darling of the liberal world, spent every Tuesday morning approving targets for drone attacks that killed far more innocent people than school shootings in the same period have.

Patriarchal and class-based societies have always used violence to establish and maintain their rule, and the advent and mass availability of super-powered weapons makes the violence that used to be the special privilege of the powerful elites is now also available to the masses.

Of course these weapons should be banned, though the powerful interests of the gun lobby and the military-industrial complex are going to make that very difficult.

Nonetheless, applaud the students who refuse to listen to the voices that tell them to be realistic and that they cannot change the world. Yet the pervasive fear generated by a competitive marketplace, with its message that everyone is against you and you have to protect yourself from others who would dominate you or take advantage of you if they could, provides the fodder that the NRA and its supporters need to valorize unlimited access to guns. Until a political force arises that addresses those fears and champions a new ethos of love and caring for each other and for the earth, it is going to be difficult to dislodge the power of the NRA and other fear mongers (importantly, the military-industrial complex).

Most people want a more loving and kind world, but also don’t believe it possible. Only a movement that links its specific demands with a positive vision of a world based on caring for each other and caring for the planet, and helps people overcome their fears and their depressive certainty that such a world is impossible, can hope to win the relatively simple demand to create rational laws governing the use of firearms. And until there are more fundamental assaults on the assumptions of patriarchy and class domination, and gently and lovingly helps men overcome their societal-induced fears that they will be weak and vulnerable without guns, violence will still be an ever-present reality.

A first step now is to eliminate all assault rifles and automatic guns and rifles. We can only hope that the indignation and courage shown by the young people mobilized by this latest massacre will lead to the emergence of a massive movement for fundamental change in the values, institutions and patriarchal conditioning that have shaped our violent society.


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