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August 7, 2019

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As the U.S. looks ever more violent, Women's Marchers offers some practical advice for beating swords into plowshares.
After Mass Shootings, Other Nations Issue Caution About 'Gun Society' In U.S. - via NPR

"Japanese residents should be aware of the potential for gunfire incidents everywhere in the United States, a gun society, and continue to pay close attention to safety measures," the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted earlier this week on the website of the country’s consulate-general in Detroit. The concern came as at least two other nations - Uruguay and Venezuela - issued travel warnings for the U.S. in the wake of shootings in Gilroy, Calif., Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, where at least 22 people were killed and some two dozen others wounded in an incident that authorities believe may have been motivated by anti-immigrant sentiment.
They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. - Isaiah 2:4
When he was in college, my brother wanted to study abroad in the Middle East. He was studying Islam in college and found a cool program in Jordan that he really wanted to do. But it was 2004-2005, and Jordan’s Israeli and Palestinian neighbors were in the midst of the Second Intifada, plus the U.S. occupation of Iraq, another of Jordan’s neighbors, was in its full, violent swing. Nobody from our parents to Nick’s professors to the U.S. State Department thought it was a good idea for him to go. So it didn’t work out.

And that’s the way we in the U.S. are used to thinking about travel warnings. The stable, civilized U.S., in its wisdom, tells its worldly citizens which of the world’s less savory, less stable, less civilized hotspots to watch out for as they travel. Even if we have some qualms about the neo-colonial arrogance of this mindset, I think that many of us in this country (especially those of us who benefit from neo-colonialism’s partnership with white supremacy) implicitly embrace it when we see that our government has put out a travel warning.

And then this week that dynamic is reversed. At least three nations - Japan, Uruguay, and Venezuela - have cautioned their citizens about traveling to the United States, which is described in Japan’s statement as a “gun society.”

And can we really argue with that? It was clear long ago, and abundantly, tragically clear now, that we are a gun society. We are a society that worships guns and violence as false gods, idols of destruction and death. Violent, murderous systems of power like white supremacy, misogyny, nationalism, transphobia, and ableism are woven into the fabric of our society, even as many of us commit ourselves to resisting them.

Policymakers must take meaningful, concrete steps to address gun violence in this country. If there was ever any question about this, there can no longer be any. Let's also keep in mind that policy and advocacy work around gun violence must be done in ways that are accountable and responsive to communities who are most affected by the epidemic of gun violence and who are most at risk of being unduly criminalized and over-policed by “tough on crime” policies that are often white supremacy and ableism in disguise.

Alongside the policy changes that we can and should and must advocate for, we must also set ourselves to the task of re-shaping our society so that it no longer can be called a “gun society.” We must challenge the violence implicit in our personal relationships, in our neighborhoods and schools, in our churches and organizations, in our politics and government. We must turn swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks.
Both changing policy and changing society will take a mass commitment to collective action, a commitment that young people are already modeling for the rest of us. If there are children in your life, nurture their sense of capacity for collective action to change the world by giving them the gift of one or more of these books recommended by Raising Luminaries.
Giver of Life, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is sadness, joy. 

O divine Liberator, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive, 
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, 
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
- Prayer of St. Francis, adapted
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