In the many violent attacks on our schools and colleges this year, one common element in most of them has been the choice of guns (especially automatic weapons) as instruments of attack and destruction. Why then do so many people still trust in these same guns to protect their children, even to the point of wanting to arm teachers in schools and colleges to protect them?
The psalmist argues that you do not prevent violence by making more violence possible and suggests that for religious and moral people there other alternatives.
“Some boast of chariots, and some of horses, but we will boast in the name of the Lord our God.” (Psalm 20:7)
The prophet Amos warns Israel that the nation cannot protect itself by violence.
“Flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong shall not retain his strength, nor shall the mighty save his life; he who handles the bow will not stand….” (Amos 2:13-16).
Jesus warns that those who take the sword will die by the sword (Matthew 26:52).
Is it possible that we have made our guns our idols and think that they will protect us from our own destructive impulses and false choices? What should we be teaching our children and our students and how do we protect them now that houses of learning are no longer safe places? What does it mean to be peacemakers in today’s violent world?
Dr. Earl S. Johnson, Jr. is a retired pastor in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies at Siena College.
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