After the horrific shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, President Biden called for changes to gun laws after expressing his heartbreak.  “To lose a child is like having a piece of your soul ripped away,” said Biden, who learned of the shooting at Robb Elementary School while on Air Force One returning from his trip to Asia. “There’s a hollowness in your chest, you feel like you’re being sucked into it, never able to get out. Suffocating. It’s never quite the same.”  But as noted, just 44 seconds into his prepared remarks the president made it political, “When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?  When in God’s name will we do what we all know in our gut needs to be done?”

Interestingly, the president also commented that this kind of mass shootings rarely happens anywhere else in the world.  “They have mental health problems.  They have domestic disputes; they have people who are lost.  But these kinds of mass shootings never happen with the kind of frequency that they happen in America.  Why?  Why are we willing to live with this carnage?  Why do we keep letting this happen?  Where in God’s name is our backbone to have the courage to deal with it and stand up to the lobbies?”  And with those words the president dismissed any reason for the massacre other than “the gun lobbies.”

Statesmen rise above politics; this president is not a statesman, even in the most tragic of circumstances.  After the Buffalo shooting, he tried to leverage the carnage wrought by a deranged eco-fascist, racist into political gain with his continued reference to white supremacists.  When three Asian women were shot in a Dallas salon he again blamed ‘white-supremacists’ even though the shooter was a black man; meanwhile he ignored the near-simultaneous mass shooting of Taiwanese parishioners by a deranged Chinese gunman.  And does anyone recall what the president said after last year’s mass murder in Waukesha Wisconsin when black nationalist and BLM sympathizer, Darrell Brooks, used his vehicle to deliberately mow down children and elderly people during last year’s Christmas festival there? (Note – all the victims were white.)  Don’t feel bad if you don’t remember the president’s words because no one else does either as I’ve been unable to find anything on the Internet about the president visiting the traumatized community or even offering condolences to the victims’ families.

Perhaps Joe didn’t want to bring attention to the fact that the alleged mass murderer was black, and the victims were white.  Obviously, Waukesha was non-event to the president who must have taken his cue from the Washington Post that described the horror, “…six people were killed and more than 40 were injured after an SUV plowed into a crowd at a Christmas parade on Sunday,” as if this were a driverless vehicle with a mind of its own.

Contrast the president’s words and actions with the words of Rabbi Joel Newman, a friend of mine, who framed the tragedy of school shootings to the B’nai Vail Congregation a bit differently.  Rabbi Newman served as a Navy chaplain for 15 years before coming to Vail.  Interestingly, Joel chose to serve with the Marines, and we often joke about how he probably has more time in CH-46s (the bird I flew in Vietnam) than I do.  A part of his message follows…

“We grieve and mourn the loss of the 19 children and 2 teachers that were killed in Robb Elementary school in Texas yesterday.”  He then went on to say that “Mental health is an ongoing serious problem in our country and one that needs to be discussed openly and addressed by helping to identify those who need help. No healthy person can walk into a school and murder children.  Our challenge is to speak out when we know of someone who might do harm to others or to themselves.  We will speak up and demand care and watchfulness for the mentally ill.  As a congregation, will also pray for the lives lost.  For the futures never to be realized.  For grieving families and their communities.  For the healing of those wounded.  And for leaders to have the courage to place safety and lives over partisan politics.”

Joel’s message addressed something the president chose to ignore – mental illness.  As noted in the Wall Street Journal, “…the profile emerging of Salvador Ramos, the 18-year-old who killed 19 children and two teachers, is depressingly familiar. A teenage loner with a disruptive family life. Bullied as a child because of a speech impediment. Immersed in video games and other virtual reality.” None of which has anything to do with gun lobbies.

We know the jurisdictions in this country with the most stringent gun laws are also the jurisdictions with the most gun crimes.  So, perhaps 21st century cultural phenomenon such as fatherless homes, the de-evolution of the nuclear family, prolonged isolation due to COVID, decreased attendance at church, acceptance of Hollywood stars slapping one another on national T.V. and a general coarsening of the culture may have some bearing on matter.

As cognitive and compassionate human beings we are compelled to ask if this is really ‘gun issue’ or if it could possibly be something more multifarious.  And when asking ourselves that question it would be wise to heed the words of John Dewey who said, “A problem well put is a problem half solved,” because until we as a nation come to terms that this problem goes beyond just “the gun lobby,” these horrific shootings will continue.

Quote of the day: “Every problem has a solution; it may sometimes just need another perspective.”—Katherine Russell

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