Saturday, November 21, 2015

Well-Being of the City

Seek the well-being of the city to which I have sent you;
pray for it to the Lord,
for in seeking its well-being you shall find your own.
Jeremiah 29:7

Linda and I participated in a solidarity march following the Paris massacre. It was sponsored by Alliance Francois, the local French-American community. Outside their building hangs two flags, one American and the other French. On the march down Hennepin Avenue to The Basilica of Saint Mary and at the gathering, one heard the French National Anthem and shouts of Je Suis Paris (I Am Paris). Inside the basilica we celebrated the "Solemn Vespers for Peace and Justice." The text from Jeremiah was the foundation.

The occasion was precipitated by the violence done by guns. Yes, we can and should address the issue of terrorism by studying the "whys" and origins of Daesh, Al Quaeda, Boko Haram and many other terrorist groups. As in America we should and are engaging reasons for our own terrorist reality. As of this date there have been approximately 250 mass shootings this year alone. Each year in the United States we suffer over 12,000 homicides of which many are mass shootings. I call this American Terrorism. There would be no AT without guns. So, in the conversation about what to do about our reality, it is also necessary to talk about gun violence prevention.

Let us begin by addressing the issue of how to keep guns out of the hands of potential terrorists. One of the most urgent needs is to prevent those on the FBI's Terrorist Watch List from purchasing guns. Common sense, right? Presently, the FBI is watching about 420,000 people, of which 2,043 are on the TWL. However, and as an affront to common sense, the NRA and other gun rights groups are opposing a bill introduced by Senator Diane Feinstein of California which would begin to address this gap in our security. 

Senator Feinstein's bill was introduced in February 2015. It prevents Federally licensed gun dealers from selling firearms to those on the TWL. The legislation would not, however, prevent private sellers or online sale of weapons to them. Call this the gun show loop hole. Says Jennifer Baker, spokeswoman of the NRA, the NRA opposes this bill, "pointing to past instances where innocent people were added to the TWL either in error or as the result of tenuous ties to others involved in suspicious activities" (Huffingtonpost). She says:

It is appalling that the anti-gun politicians are
exploiting the Paris terrorist attacks to push
their gun control agenda and distract from
President Obama's failed foreign policy.

I call this obfuscation and distraction. The immediate issue is the safety of the American people. One needs to suspend belief to believe that we are protecting our people by allowing those on the TWL to purchase guns! As to some who believe it makes sense for the House of Representatives to vote to put a "pause" on accepting Syrian refugees who are fleeing for their lives, wouldn't it be prudent to also act to keep guns out of the possession of possible terrorists? This is a no brainer! Yet, our elected leaders and leaders of the leaders refuse to bring the bill to a vote. 

I would guess that nearly all of our elected leaders are or profess to be members of Christian churches. Perhaps they have heard the verse from Jeremiah in a sermon or at least read as one of the prescribed texts. I think the text provides the Biblical foundation for faithful action within the scope of our Constitution to pass this law for the protection of our citizens and members of our congregations. I would urge all people to write your elected leaders and urge them to support the passage of this bill "for the sake of the well-being of the city."


Ron Letnes

Friday, November 6, 2015

Republican Party Epitaph

I remember wearing my "I Like Ike" button. It was a new fangled type that had both the words and the picture of a smiling Ike if you tilted the button. Pretty neat! The 1960's changed my party affiliation. Not that the Democrats made all the right decisions (Vietnam tarnished illusions), but there was an imperfect balance of values that tilted towards justice and a passion for peace in the Democratic Party. 

I say tilted because this action describes the honesty of balance in decision-making. No decision is pure. Honesty births nuance and honors complexity. Only bigoted legalists trumpet moral absolutes. This is why Christians find their perfection only in Christ, not in themselves. Even then we are humbled by our moment by moment sinfulness and are driven to our knees in confession, only to receive absolution by the grace and mercy of God.

So it was that I turned away from the Republican Party. Today, the scale of justice and peace tilt ever more away from the party. Our nation, our Constitution need both Republicans and Democrats to provide balance. Now, all that can be written about the Republican Party is their epitaph. Consider these nails in the coffin:

1. Elimination of abortion rights for women
2. Efforts to shut down Planned Parenthood which provide reasonably priced contraception
             and reproductive care for women
3. Elimination of Obamacare which provides affordable health care for millions
4. Increasing age qualification for Social Security and wanting to privatize its finances
5. Increasing military spending even though we spend more than nearly all nations combined
6. Elimination of labor unions, collective bargaining and encouraging right to work legislation which  
             lowers wages and lessens pension possibilities
7. Restrictions on voting rights making it more difficult for the poor and minorities to vote
8. Promoting unlimited anonymous campaign contributions which gives unrivaled
             power and influence to the very wealthy and corporate elite
9. Opposition to LGBT rights
10.  Roadblock to comprehensive immigration reform until the borders are tight and a wall
             is constructed
11. Meager support at best for increased minimum wage
12. Opposition to Consumer Protection Agency, wanting to give power to a partisan committee 
             controlled by Republicans which will limit its ability to protect consumers
13. Opposition to Dodd-Frank Bill which regulates banks and Wall Street
14. Cutting back on food programs and welfare for the needy
15. Support for off-shore and foreign tax havens for the wealthy
16. Blind support for the National Rifle Association
17. Opposition to Black Lives Matter and blind support for police
18. Eagerness to once again support large scale troop commitment in the Middle East
19. Blind support for Israel at the expense of justice for Palestinians
20. Attacks upon fact-based science and acknowledgement of the reality of climate change
21. Narrow and blind interpretation of the Second Amendment which leads to increased
               proliferation of gun availability and stifling of gun safety legislation
22. Refusal to fund the study of gun violence 
23. Obsession with cutting taxes at the expense of funding education and providing 
               poverty programs
24. Obsession with saying "No!" to job creation programs and funding of infrastructure
25. Cutting back of Medicaid availability
26. Unquestioned bias towards the very wealthy and corporate elite leading to unprecedented
               income inequality

And on and on! Again, I make these observations on the basis of "balance and tilt". There are Republicans who would disagree with these positions and Democrats who would agree with some of them. I look at the balance. 

The balance, the tilt points towards a Republican Party Epitaph. And further, with the increased metastasizing of these cancerous positions, the Epitaph of America. Democracy is being decimated.
An arrogant hubris rises amidst the ruins. The next monument on the Washington Mall is of a fat middle finger pointing towards a polluted sky.

As a Christian, I am alarmed at the injustice and violence of this imbalance. Isaiah's call to be "repairers of the breach", Micah's call to "Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God", and Mary's Magnificat in Luke: "He has brought down the powerful from their thrones and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and he sent the rich away empty....", and Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: "In everything do to others as you would have them do to you." provide a transformative counterpoint to the Republican Party Epitaph.

It is the time to hear John the Baptist: "You brood of vipers....Bear fruits worthy of repentance!" Through repentance there is renewal. God's grace frees us to repent! Republicans, Democrats, People of God. And then: 

Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God."
Luke 3:5-6


Friday, October 9, 2015

My Gun Story

I grew up in small town Climax, Minnesota. I loved playing guns. I had six shooters, cavalry holsters with a six shooter cap gun, an army "burp" gun, a plastic Thompson sub machine gun. The creme-de-la-creme was a rubber gun constructed of laths and clothes pins. The idea was to cut up an old car tire to create 1/2 inch wide strips which you attached to the front of the laths, stretch them back to the rear handle, fit an end of the rubber into the clothes pin (trigger) and go shoot someone!  You could make a machine gun lath rubber gun by cutting notches into the laths and running a string down the barrel, putting several rubbers along the laths and activate the machine gun by pulling up the string. Fun!

I loved John Wayne movies!  I watched "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" and "Fort Apache." Television brought "Bonanza", "The Rifleman", "Rin Tin Tin" and "Paladin" into our home and my heart.  

Then came the B-B gun. I still remember the tears I shed after killing my first sparrow. However, the next weekend I shot 11 more.  Then, I was done. I went hunting a couple of times with my step-dad but never got a shot off. I took a gun safety course, learning to shoot a .22. I recall him hunting rabbits with it. He was a good shot.

My love affair with guns started to change when my step-dad purchased a Winchester 30-30 and went deer hunting. He came home with a deer strapped to the fender of his car and said he was done.  No more. He sold his 30-30. He felt the deer was too beautiful of an animal to kill. Perhaps he had some recurring PTSD from his service in Europe in WWII.

Then came the 1960s. My love affair with guns ended. The assassinations, Civil Rights struggles and the Vietnam War led me to say "Enough!" Guns meant death. No more fun. Guns were not innocent games anymore. I gave away my .22. The only gun I have today is an 80 year old rusty shotgun owned by my dad, broken stock, a memento in the museum of my memory. I became a committed pacifist, committed to nonviolence.

While serving congregations I taught and preached about nonviolence. I upset people with my anti-gun screed. I wrote anti-war resolutions for district conventions. Linda and I participated in several anti-war marches. We marched in Washington, DC on the 20th Anniversary of MLK, Jr's "March on Washington." 

I designed "The Gun Game" while executive director at Sky Ranch in Colorado. Each week we played this variation on "capture the flag." It was a three-phased game. Phase I was everyone playing the standard capture the flag for about 20 minutes. Phase II involved everyone being given a squirt gun (pistols, super soakers). The idea was to play the game, and when you were shot with water you had to adjust accordingly. That is, if you were shot in the arm or leg you couldn't use that appendage. If you were shot in the head or torso you were out of the game and sat down. Phase III had one side getting all of the squirt guns. Naturally, this phase was short-lived!

We processed the game following the three phases. All enjoyed the first phase!  Great fun! The second and third phases brought responses like: "It wasn't fun anymore." "We became angry." I asked, "What would it be like if you came to camp and were given a loaded Uzzie or pistol upon arrival?" The responses were: "It wouldn't be camp anymore." And "We'd kill each other." I then asked, "Would Jesus carry an AK-47?" Overwhelmingly the response was shouted "No!" Youth saw the truth.

Now, I am on the Protect Minnesota Board of Directors. Our purpose is to work for gun violence prevention. I have led conversations in our church and taken action at synod assemblies. I am organizing a synodical committee to address gun violence prevention in churches, believing that the People of God, the Church, are the moral conscience of our communities, state and nation. A friend and I have developed a course called ENGAGE which is a guided conversation on many gun violence prevention facets: Biblical, Church statements, Second Amendment, NRA, and specific possible actions.

Frankly, finding an audience in the church has been a difficult slog. I am frequently disappointed at the lack of interest, lack of will, and lack of clergy courage to address the issue. This in spite of unprecedented mass shootings and 34,000 deaths a year. It is incomprehensible to me how the Church  can be so hesitant to reject this scourge and seek solutions. 

What keeps me going? Statements from our ELCA, Holy Scripture, Jesus and Paul's ethics, love of Linda, family and people, and the truth. "Enough!"  "No more of this!" "Blessed are the peacemakers!"

What's your story?



Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Pope of Hope!

Listening to Pope Francis almost swayed me to join the Catholic Church! The ethics and pastoral spirit he embodied shone the Spirit of Christ in profound and refreshingly grace-filled and faith-filled ways. The rigor of Catholicism and spiritual arrogance accompanied with the accoutrements of ecclesiastical power were significantly lessened, though not completely absent, by his words and actions. What shone brightly were his many words and actions of hope. Here are a few memorables, along with personal comments.

INCARCERATION IS NOT EXCLUSION: When addressing prisoners and speaking of Jesus washing the feet of the poor, Pope Francis emphasized the grace of God still including the prisoners within God's sphere of grace and redemption. Being INCLUDED in God's grace empowers re-entry into society and positive reconciling lives. Never give up on the possibility of hope and rehabilitation. Abolish the global death penalty. ALL of life must be honored.

4-DOOR FIAT 500: Pope Francis was driven around in a small, average looking, non-descript, middle class, gasoline skimpy Fiat.  There was no Lincoln, Mercedes, Continental, up-armored modified Hum-Vee for transport. The message: Moderation is adequate. Spend money on helping others. Being church is not to be extravagant. I am like you. Care for our natural resources because they are finite.

LOVING THE CHILDREN: There were many times when Pope Francis took the time to touch children, smile at children, talk with children. His affection for children was heart-warming. His visit to the school was an education in the value of education. The family is essential for the building of this country. 

POLITICS IS AN EXPRESSION OF OUR NEED TO LIVE AS ONE: Politics is a gift from God to order and make real national comity, justice and opportunity. Politics writes the laws which direct structures and guarantee civil liberties. We must confront every type of polarization in order to confront violence. Good political leaders initiate and minimize armed conflicts.  Politics involves the effective distribution of power for the sake of ALL.  No group can consider itself absolute.

CONGRESS: YOU ARE THE FACE OF THE PEOPLE: The people elected you to guide and provide for the common good, to satisfy the common needs.  The people reflect and expect the common good. The task of Congress is to reflect the will of the people for the common good. The elected officials are to work for the benefit of all people. You are not elected to live within the perks of the office and neglect doing the responsible good for the people. Insure the human dignity of all people. Real human beings take precedence over partisan ambition. A nation can be considered great that fosters liberty. If you fight among yourselves you will be devoured by those outside.

FOUR EXAMPLES OF AMERICA'S GUARDIANS OF LIBERTY: Abraham Lincoln: Liberty for all; Martin Luther King, Jr.: The call to dream and create a good life for all. Dreams awaken the future of freedom. America is a land of dreams; Dorothy Day: Social justice for all; Thomas Merton: Capacity for dialog and contemplation.

REFUGEES AND IMMIGRATION: Most of us were once foreigners. We must not be taken aback by the sheer numbers.  We must see refugees as persons. Remember the Golden Rule. If we want security, let us give security.  If we want opportunity, let us give opportunity. We must allow refugees to be dignified persons of their own destiny. Refugees must have the right to an education. Governments must provide for a minimum of lodging, labor and land, as well as civil rights and religious freedom.

ENVIRONMENT: The earth is our common home. We need dialog about environmental degradation caused by human activity.  Nature must be protected. Our human survival depends upon environmental care. The environment is a fundamental good. We have a culture of waste. Waste excludes others from life. Exclusiveness focuses on ourselves at the expense of others. When we see only ourselves we abuse creation. Creation is to be used for ALL of God's creation. There are ethical limits which humans must acknowledge.

ECONOMIC JUSTICE: There needs to be international equity, sustainable development, and elimination of oppressive lending systems which generate more oppression. Justice is essential for development. Opportunities must be open for all people. We must pool our resources, foster fraternity and solidarity for the common good. Business is a noble vocation if it creates jobs for the common good. Wealth and power are only the products of man. Religious freedom is a pillar of development.

WAR AND WEAPONS: Why are deadly weapons being sold? We must stop the arms trade. War is the negation of all rights. The real danger comes from man.

SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION: The spiritual supports ands sheds light.  Know that we attain God when we love. Our future rests in affirming the sacredness of all of life.  This leads to the creation of our common home. The voice of faith is that of fraternity and love. We are to care for one another, have respect for one another and be close to one another. Full meaning in life is found in selflessness and service.


Ron Letnes

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

America: Waning Democracy-Rising Fascism
Part II
A Theological-Political Response

Part I presented a description of fascism. Part II presents a theological-political response. Why unite theology and politics? Because a grace-centered, faith-filled theology is naturally political. Theology leads to action in the world, action that challenges personal decisions and structural realities. Theology always calls for renewal and change. Politics is about action, renewal and change. 

The characteristics of fascism in Part I contain many touch stones which are contrary to the Biblical witness. That's what scripture does! The Word is always focused on a contrary transformation of the world! What is the contrary Biblical witness to fascism?

TRADITIONALISM: Sitting for dinner at Levi's house, the scribes of the Pharisees asked, "Why does he[Jesus] eat with sinners and tax collectors?" Jesus was breaking with the traditional religionists, the conservative status quo, the rigid keepers of the Law, the righteous. Jesus' response: "I have come to call not the righteous but sinners." Fascist traditionalists do not see themselves as "sinners." They are the "righteous." Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17: "If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation, everything old has passed away...." Fascists protect the old, the established powers.

NATIONALISM: "You are the light of the world" says Jesus in Matthew 5:14. "God has established the world"-Psalm 93:1. "For God so loved the world...." - John 3:16. There are over 300 references to "world" in scripture. The Biblical witness gives testimony to God's creative affection for the entire world! God is global! No boundaries! Fascism urges an isolated native nationalism as the center of values.

INTOLERANCE: "I was a stranger and you welcomed me." - Matthew 25:35. "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God." - Ephesians 2:19. Fascists are part of the "in group" which blames the "outsiders" for problems. Fascists look for scape goats. Intolerance is tolerated for the sake of control and profit.

SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST: "If there is among you anyone in your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need." - Deuteronomy 15: 7-8. The Parable of the Good Samaritan stresses compassion for the wounded stranger. - Luke 10:25ff. Fascists nurture corporate power whose purpose is to support the dictatorial power of the state. All are expendable at the state's powerful mercilessness.

PASSION OVER REASON: "A tranquil mind gives life to the flesh, but passion makes the bones rot." - Proverbs 14:30. "For the grace of God trains us to renounce worldly live lives that are self controlled." - Titus 2:11-12. "While we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the Law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death." - Romans 7:5. Fascists do not want people to think deeply, to contemplate the nuances and consequences. Fascists want only to tickle the emotions of entertainment, to keep us laughing while the mind sleeps.

XENOPHOBIA: "You shall not deprive a resident alien or an orphan of justice...." - Deuteronomy 24:17. "I was a father to the needy, and I championed the cause of the stranger." - Job 29:16. "There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear." - I John 4:18. Fascists create a fear-filled environment in order to maintain a powerful, militaristic control.

CORPORATION: Leviticus 25 declares a Jubilee Year in order to level the economic playing field and stir economic equality and equal opportunity. Luke 6:24-26 declares "Woes" to the wealthy and powerful because of their injustice and lack of kindness for all. Fascists control and cooperate with corporate elites for financial control and employment control of the people. People are tools of the corporation and state functionaries. The state and corporations control the levers of power and expression. The corporate boardrooms and government departments crush democracy.

ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION: Genesis 1:28 calls us to have "dominion" over creation meaning to care for, to be good stewards of the environment. Creation is an inter-relationship between people and the earth, each to nurture the other for life! Romans 8:21 - "...that creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God." "...for in Him all things in heaven and on earth were created...." - Colossians 1:16. Fascists are the "gods" of creation. Fascists use creation, degrade creation, destroy creation for the sake of profit.  The environment exists at the mercy and purpose of the corporate state, for profit, for control of the people. 

AUTHORITARIANISM: I Corinthians 13 speaks of love in gentle terms, of humility, of listening to each other. I Corinthians 12 speaks of the various gifts within the Body of Christ.  All are valuable. There is a collegiality and equality, an interdependence. In Romans 13, love brackets the injunctions of the state. The state is to function out of love, towards a love that nurtures, demonstrates justice and creates peace. Fascism is not concerned with people love, but only corporate profit and control for the sake of goals established by corporate and state rulers. Ruling trumps love.

Holy Scripture is contrary to fascism. The Biblical witness is about God's grace alive in love, justice and mercy; whereas fascism demands obedience and controls the levers of life for the sake of corporate dominance and profit. Scripture is anathema to fascism!

The essence of American democracy is nurtured by a faithful following of the Biblical ethic of love, justice and mercy. The trend of our government is away from this Biblical theological-political ethic and towards a demonic fascism which exists for its power and profit controlling self. Democracy is waning.

The way forward is for Christians to be Christians, to insist and give witness to its Truth. The Biblical witness is clearly contrary to fascism. Before it is too late it is time to be contrary and nurture democracy.


Ron Letnes

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Waning Democracy - Rising Fascism
Part I 

I recall an early Pilgrim clergy calling America a "Light on the Hill." I nod affirmatively reading the words "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" from the Declaration of Independence. I smile reading the Preamble of our Constitution and the words"We the people..., in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity...."

Alas, I feel these democratic commitments waning, being blown way in the hurricane of rising fascism. I am fearful and saddened, because the good, the spark of liberty, the energy of creativity, the standards within our Bill of Rights are being flushed.  Yet, I believe the way of hope and healing lies in seeing the truth of what is happening, acknowledging its cancerous negativity, and deciding on correctives. 

PART I in moving us towards the sunrise of hope and healing will focus on an analysis of fascism. I will use the fascist portrait within an article in SALON, 26 July 2015. PART II will be a theological response to each portrait color because I see the Biblical witness as possessing a socio-political way forward. 

What is Fascism?

TRADITIONALISM: Fascism is an appeal to traditionalism.  Look to the past, look to the original meanings, look to the literal intent, look to fundamental truths. There is a negation of change unless change is deemed consistent with what has always been. Supreme Court Justice Anton Scalia hangs his hat on "originalism" when voicing an opinion, asking "What was the original intent of the Founding Fathers within their context as if to deny that contexts change.

NATIONALISM: "My country right or wrong, but right or wrong my country" can be the fascist nationalist mantra. The fascist believes their nation can do anything it wants as long as it is in their national interest. International, global thinking is secondary to national will. Our thinking, our actions are dictated by whatever we understand WE need to do from our understanding to achieve OUR goals. We are supreme! Our gaze is narrow. Nationalism is all about US. Respect for other nations is secondary to our will for ourselves. War is always an easy possibility.

INTOLERANCE OF IMMIGRANTS: The fascist is protective of its power elite, its culture, its color, its religion. Any people who would want into the country due to economic necessity or asylum for fear of death, are not welcome unless their presence will enhance our national interest. Compassion and justice are sacrificed in the cauldron of fear. Walls are constructed to keep the foreigner out. The immigrant is blamed. Only those who nurture the established powerful status quo are welcome.

SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST: The poor and vulnerable, the unproductive be damned. Only the strong and well connected survive. Citizenship becomes an extension of "The Hunger Games." Watch your back, stick your fork into the other person, slice and dice if necessary. "God is on the side of the biggest battalions." Competition is the norm for advancement. The other person is a potential enemy, a threat to your survival. All is fair because your own survival is paramount. Violence is as common as a latte'.

PASSION OVER REASON: Think Donald Trump. Think Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Mao Tse Dung, Charlemagne, Napoleon, Idi Amin, Osama Bin Laden and.... Living by passion means living by what makes me feel good, feel right, what justifies my sense of righteousness. Passion is the drug of hubris, the grandiose ego eruption.  Passion is the quick fix, the feel good answer to challenges, the narcissistic triumph of the will! Consideration of the other is blackened out.  The nuances of relationships are annoyances. The complexity of connections are nullified.  Education is restricted and becomes propaganda. Thinking is group think. The Internet is controlled to allow only ideas that support the corporate-political elite. Only the "now" and what justifies the passionate desire is acceptable. Unchecked passion leads to justifiable violence.

XENOPHOBIA: Fear of the foreigner or stranger is paramount. They are the enemy. Justice and compassion, a welcoming spirit are squelched because of the need to protect, to survive. Violence is justified to preserve the corporate-political estate.

CORPORATISM: The political operatives and corporate CEOs run the country.  What is good for the bottom line, for the powerful elite is what is good for the nation. The political decisions are captive to what will assist and protect the profit of the corporation.  The workers are tools of the corporation for the good of the wealthy political leadership and corporate CEOs. The worker is slave to the profit makers. Political decision are made to further corporate profiteering interests nationally and globally.  Justice is defined by what is good for profit and obscene salaries for the political and corporate elite.

ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION:  The environment is a tool to be used and abused for the benefit of the corporate state.  Whatever it takes to generate profit is justified: deny climate change, prevent development of solar and renewable energy sources, poison our water with chemicals, over fish the oceans, encourage use of coal and fossil fuels, clear cut the rain forests, drill for oil in the Arctic, all are justified for the sake of profit.

AUTHORITARIANISM: (This is my personal addition) Democracy is denied.  decisions are made by the corporate and political elite. National will is decided by a select few.  The people are victims of the few. War is on the table as long as it fits the national goals of the corporate-political cabal. The people are the cannon fodder, the expendable. Militarization is paramount and takes the majority of the budget.

Democracy is dead.

Ron Letnes

Friday, August 28, 2015

Lack of Shared Humanity?

Following the recent shooting of two journalists in Virginia, I wrote the following on my Facebook:

Not the time? "The host of the NRA radio show reacted to the fatal
shooting of two journalists in Virginia County by attacking gun activists
for using the tragedy to call for stronger gun laws, claiming they 
'politicized' it and demonstrated a lack of shared humanity."
(Media Matters)

I am speechless.  But not for long. One can assume that this is the 
position of NRA leadership. O, they will lay low for a few days. 
This is their MO. Let emotions settle. Then will come the justifications
for needing more guns. This time the call to arm the journalists. 
Equipment: cameras, AR-15, microphones, Glock 9mm and....

Lack of shared humanity? O, yes, let's comfort the gun manufacturers,
the gutless politicians, the sellers of death, the NRA leadership. Surely
we must weep over their misfortunate publicity.

It is time to enact gun safety laws that will protect more people, 
perhaps your daughter or son, spouse and friends, the stranger and

Yes, let us affirm the dignity of a "shared humanity" and say as one: 

I also wrote on Facebook:

We have spent too much time fretting over the government wanting
to take our guns away and insisting on our right to own guns.
Show me the data that proves the big bad government is coming to take
guns away. The truth is the politicians, fueled by gun nuts
are so afraid of offending the gun nuts that they do nothing
to pass gun safety laws. Don't worry about the government
as they are chickens in pants and dresses.  Worry instead about
the gun in your home and the 300 million in public circulation.
That ought to give us serious pause.  We are hemorrhaging in
guns and the 34,000 deaths a year are the result.
Sleep well.

And another post:

Consider this all you gun lovers.  Nearly 2/3 of all gun
deaths are suicide by gun.  By my calculation those 2/3 would
still be alive if they had chosen their "right" to NOT buy
a gun. So much for how much guns "protect" us.
Indeed they enable us to kill each other and ourselves
with sad regularity. Hello!

The organization Everytown for Gun Safety recently published a chart titled "Gun Murders Per 100,000 Residents" which compared the murder rates of several countries. Yup, the United States is #1 again! Per 100,000: U.S.A., 3.7; Italy (#2) 0.68; Luxembourg (#3) 0.59; Finland 0.57; Canada 0.50; Norway (#14) 0.04. 

When will we affirm the sanctity of life? When will we take action beyond "My thoughts and prayers are with you." When will we respond with actions to Jesus' injunctions of "Enough", "No more of this", "They who live by the sword shall die by the sword" and "Blessed are the peacemakers"? 

"How many deaths will it take till we know that too many people have died?" Bob Dylan


Ron Letnes