Ten years ago, the church I served in Stockton, Calif. shared a parking lot with Cleveland Elementary School. I witnessed the Jan. 17, 1989, schoolyard shooting of 29 first and second graders, the deaths of five. Since that time, every school shooting replays the terror of that day. What made that experience worse were the rationalizations made days later that "firearms are not the problem."
In ancient times, "religious" sects rationalized child sacrifice by claiming: "The gods give us wealth and comfort; that's worth the life of a dozen children!" (A "god" is nothing more than that which fills our heart with joy and security.) So, our response to tossing a half-dozen kids into a volcano is a self-righteous, "We would never do that! Life is more precious to us!" Really?
Serbian troops lay a land mine that kills two children, and we will self-righteously clamor, "Atrocity! Nuke 'em!" But what do we say when dozens of civilians die in an errant U.S. attack? "Oops!" And, when atrocity after atrocity occurs in American school yards, back yards, and bedrooms, the clamoring chants and prayers are raised to the "god of freedom", pleading that "our freedoms not be taken away." Is life more "precious" to us?
Americans continue to sacrifice children in the name of "the god of freedom." I shudder. Jonesboro, Paukah, Littleton, Stockton are merely the Super Bowls of sacrifice. The problem is these "super bowls" just don't come often enough, or close enough, to warrant civil outrage. When death does come to Payson High or Rim Country Middle School, will outrage rise? I doubt it, for when we look too closely at our "false god of freedom" we may see that it cannot, will not, ever produce true justice, peace, or safety.
So, I await Charlton Heston, (aka Moses, Mr. NRA) to remind all of America how the deaths of school kids is a small sacrifice to pay to "the god of freedom."
Do I want to outlaw guns? That will never happen in my lifetime. We will never be able to legislate the lust for power. But, I do endorse legislation that makes the owners of guns used in crimes, murders and accidental deaths, to be held as accountable as those who pulled the triggers. Only then may the sacrifice to the "god of freedom" tell its real cost. Until then, I grieve.
Pastor Alan Field