Love and fear

When I heard the news from Connecticut yesterday, I cried. I imagined those parents rushing to school to find their children. And the feeling of waiting and waiting and never finding your child.

I believe that there are two dominant emotions in life: love and fear. Children are mostly love. That’s why they are so beautiful, right? Most of them know nothing about robbery or kidnapping or murder. And we gradually teach them enough fear to keep them safe. Keep your fingers away from the stove. Always buckle your seatbelt. Don’t open the door for a stranger. But I think some parents are teaching far too much fear.

With the exception of hunters and those who use guns for their jobs, people own guns because of fear. Fear that a neighbor will steal from them or harm them. Fear that the government will infringe on their rights. Fear that some enemy country will invade. Every few months, a salesperson knocks at my door to sell me the newest, greatest home-security system. When I try to shoo them away, they always come back with “Do you watch the news?” or “Did you hear about the burglary in your neighborhood?” They prey on fear.

With each new massacre, we are told that this could have been stopped if only we had metal detectors and more guns. We already have 300 million guns in this country, but apparently we need more guns and more fear.

We live in a country in which those people who are governed by fear dictate our laws — or lack of laws. And our leaders listen to these people for fear that they will not be re-elected. I feel more than heartbroken about the Connecticut shooting. I feel culpable. Because I have not called my legislators or joined protests to demand stricter laws. My silence is my participation.

Our country has so far decided that fear prevails over love. We have given up everything for guns. We have sacrificed our children, which is to say our very souls. I know that people will argue that guns are part of our freedom. But I don’t see any freedom in living with the sort of fear that requires stashes of weapons normally used in war zones. Freedom is sending your beloved child off to school and knowing that she will return safely to you at the end of the day.

We don’t have to live like this. Most countries don’t. I, for one, will be taking action.