One of the neat things about UU congregations is how they engage young people to participate in all manner of activities. High schoolers have weekend retreats, pre-schoolers have bake sales, drumming circles abound and more. It was on one of those weekend retreats that my daughter met three teenagers from the Knoxville church where a gunman murdered two people on Sunday.
When I talked with my daughter today about this Tennessee shooting, the only word she could find between her tears was the word "ironic." She can't understand how one of the most peaceful of all spiritual homes could be assaulted by a person who believes liberals are the source of all the world's problems. She wonders about all the other deaths that can be laid at the feet of right-wing political hate. Abraham Lincoln. Martin Luther King. John Kennedy. Robert Kennedy. Will it ever stop? she asks.
I hope so, I fear not, and I am counting on it.
Maybe the man who committed this crime is insane, which would at least make a modicum of sense. But I suspect he is not. I suspect he is a product of a hate-filled political movement led by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and John McCain, people who joke openly about murder, assassination, and genocide. And I suspect it will get worse before it gets better. The darkest day will be the last, January 19, 2009. But it won't end there. Some are already expressing hope that President Obama will be shot within hours after being sworn in. Some are no doubt plotting to bring their hopes to fruition.
Those very same people are using this tragedy to argue that you should have the right to carry whatever. Preachers, they say, need to face the harsh realities of life in these United States. They need to start packing heat behind their pulpits. Only then, in a perverse echo of mutually assured destruction, will peaceful congregations be safe from their kind.
The right to bear arms. Oh really? Why not hand grenades then? Seriously. If we're going into armed camps, I want the right to carry cluster bombs. You see, my aim isn't so good. Limiting me to assault rifles is an infringement of my god given rights.
Just what the hell did the founding white men mean by arms?
It's hard to resist linking all this madness back to the ego trip of Christian churches more than a thousand years ago. Back before earthly possessions and power trumped paradise and peace. It's deja vu all over again, the Crusades on Parade, with so many Christian soldiers armed and ready to kill at the drop of a hint.
The shooter in Tennessee isn't just another crazy conservative off his meds. This is the natural order of right-wing politics, pure and simple.
Updated with a new title and slant at 5:25 on Monday.