It’s Not My Truth


Last week, I wrote about my wonderful, spiritual town where I live in. At that exact same time, one nearby neighbor shot and killed another neighbor, apparently over a bush trimming feud. When I saw the police cars and TV van, I almost pulled my blog. Instead, I decided to leave it longer than usual. My neighbor’s truth is not my truth.

Everything I wrote about my town is true. Even the TV and newspaper stories started with phrases like “quiet, peaceful and upscale neighborhood.” The facts remain the same except last week we had a murder on my street. No one expected it but it happened here.

Violence happens all the time somewhere in the nation. My neighbor’s quarrel should have been settled reasonably between two sane people. I believe it might have been settled rationally if no one had a gun.

Beyond the news stories, I cannot make a judgment about the case, but I am free to make the judgment that there are many too many guns around. I realize that stricter gun laws might not have had any effect on my neighbor’s dispute but I do believe that new gun laws are desperately needed.

We must speak out!  I hope everyone who reads this will take a stand and urge his or her leaders to continue to push for gun control legislation. When the great majority of citizens are in favor of tighter restrictions, shouldn’t politicians respond? Does money talk louder than the lives of innocents?

Yes, I have heard all that Second Amendment hooey. The Second Amendment was put in the Constitution to protect the American Colonists against the English in the 1700’s. It seems as archaic as Bible laws against eating pigs or shellfish to me. The dietary laws met a health need thousands of years ago but we have food inspectors now.

I know that my comments may sound simplistic but it does seem simple to me. Of course violence would still continue to happen, but if there were fewer guns in this country that would surely slow down the killing.

I’m glad people are talking more seriously about making neighborhoods safer by enacting stricter gun laws. This morning it seems as if we might see a tighter background check law get voted on and passed in the Senate. It is a beginning but there is so much more to be done.

Big city mayors have organized and been speaking out for several months now. Unfortunately, the mayor’s group represents cities, and many suburban folks who felt safer couldn’t hear them. Things have changed.

After the killing of 20 children and their six teachers in Sandy Hook Elementary School, everyone was shocked and it seemed they might be ready to listen. We dared to hope that some good would come out of the Newtown CO massacre.

The death of those innocent children dented in our hearts, They seemed like “our kids”. We already knew about random violence in less privileged neighborhoods but this time, there were so many children killed at once. And they were so young and from white, middle-class suburbs.

I’m certain we would say that a child of the ghetto or barrio deserved as much safety as a child of the suburbs. On the other hand, as I learned last week, it is easier to ignore issues when they happen farther away. Sandy Hook felt closer to home for most of us.

Many of us tried to imagine what it would feel like to lose a young child in the first or second grade to mass gun violence. My heart breaks when I think about it.

There are neighborhoods where death by gun violence is common. Sometimes it is gang activity and everyone involved a teenager. Sometimes random fire strikes a six year old. Can you imagine what it would be like to raise a child in one of those neighborhoods?

Whether in suburb or city, age six or sixteen, life is precious. There are far too many children in the USA who are endangered by guns. We know this and we also know that limiting access to guns would help. That’s why such a large majority (approximately 90%) of voters favor of stricter gun controls.

When politicians put powerful lobbies ahead of representing their constituents’ desires, it is time to elect new politicians. We can change the rules. Politicians who resist gun control legislation can lose in the next game.  Why re-elect someone who represents the NRA?

Violence has many facets. There are other things we can do besides limit gun access. We certainly need to curtail the violent video games, and the violence in movies, and on TV. It is a strange world where young people are entertained for hours by playing killing games. Not a good idea – as any psychologist will tell you.

Some of the same people who agree with me on guns will be against censorship of volence. They will quote the First Amendment quicker than the opposition quotes the Second. Neither the First nor Second Amendment is sacred.

Truth is, we already censor free speech in many ways. Liberals should not be afraid to ruffle the feathers of the Hollywood money birds. We are hypocrites if we are not willing to attempt to curtail all violence by saying, “Enough!

As a part of my New Thought spiritual practice, I have avoided violent films for years and I think it is a very good idea to keep your mind clear of violent entertainment. Why fill your head with nonsense? You may believe believe that Django is great art but that is not my Truth.

We also need to find new ways to identify and help individuals with mental health issues. That said, the most immediate need and the most logical place to start curbing violence is with gun control measures.

It looks as if we will get a vote on a background check bill in the Senate very soon. Please do what you can to help it pass. It’s not enough, but it is something. Let’s take what we can get as quickly as we can.

When the bill passes the Senate, it goes to the House and your representatives need to know you want something done. Contact the men and women who represent you NOW. Let them know what you believe and why. Tell them you are watching their votes and that it is important to you.

Whenever someone tells me that a proposed law is not enough, that the problems will remain, I remember the starfish story…

There was once a young man who walking on the beach who came upon hundreds of starfish washed up on the sand. He started picking them up, and throwing them back in the water. His companion said, “Forget it. There are too many dying. It won’t make any difference.” The young man threw two more starfish into the water and said, “It made a difference to those two.”

Remember – Political Action Works!

Ask Yourself

Do I agree?

Is there anything I can do?

What shall I do?

When shall I do it?


Changing Gun Laws

Lennonquote_nMy brothers went on Dad’s hunting trips. My sister and I were expected to help clean and cook those pitiful little birds. I didn’t want to hunt and I deftly avoided kitchen chores, so it didn’t seem like a big deal then. But guns seem like very big deal right now.

I’m willing to admit that some very nice people like to hunt even if I never did. Those tiny birds seemed like a foolish payoff for all that tramping in the weeds. The birds weren’t very tasty and you could crack a tooth on a leftover bullet.

I’m writing today because life has changed since 1940 and we need new gun laws. My Dad hunted in places like Corona that are now wall-to-wall houses. One of my favorite movie scenes is when Eddie Murphy as a new congressman goes on a hunting trip with NRA types and shoots birds with an Uzi. It was so ridiculous in Distinguished Gentleman that everyone laughed. But assault weapons are not funny in real life.

I’ve never really bought the idea that hunting is a transcendental experience. Nevertheless, lots of people I’ve respected have enjoyed hunting so I’m willing to leave regular guns in the hands of responsible people. But the rest is nonsense.

The Sandy Hook massacre apparently created enough public awareness so that we are on the verge of political action. I trust that President Obama will do what he says he’s going to do, especially since a large majority of Americans are in favor. But he cannot do it alone. Good people like us need to continue a steadfast activity in the direction of change. Let’s not get discouraged or confused but forge ahead. Let’s not get trapped in rhetoric about how complicated change is. Complications dissolve where there is a clear vision.

We people in New Thought know how to hold a vision. We use the power of prayer daily. Will you join me and devote part of your spiritual practice to envisioning fewer guns and less violence? Include it in our prayer for peace?

I believe in the power of prayer and I also believe in backing up my prayer with activities that support the desired goal. There are some simple steps to take. We can endeavor to be centered in peace ourselves. We can make sure any guns we have around are securely locked up. We can also get rid of them.

Prayer works. Follow-up action works. We are not powerless and we are with the majority opinion.

When an idea takes hold, change happens and each of us can do our part to support this idea. That is actually how all change happens on a personal, community, national or worldwide level. First we establish a clear vision. God then supports that vision. I believe we must also support the vision with our actions.

God does the work but there is an old saying, “Treat and move your feet.”  We seldom get the job unless we send out the resume. We seldom move ahead unless we take political action. Our actions confirm our commitment to the vision.

Don’t get confused about the issue in the following weeks. We often hear that guns are not the problem – that people who shoot guns are. That’s simplistic. Without assault weapons, fewer people would have been killed in massacres like Sandy Hook and Tucson and Columbine.

You may also hear that the real problem is violence in the inner cities. It is true that young people are losing their lives every day in the streets. Urban mayors are pushing hard to regulate guns in their cities and that is one more  beginning. Tightening up gun regulations will reduce  problems.

I don’t want us to be distracted during this window of opportunity, although it is clear there is not just one single solution, but many partial solutions. We must approach the problem of violence in the United States from several angles.

Mental health is a big part of the problem. We need changes in mental health identification and treatment. I can see those changes coming but I am not willing to postpone action on banning assault weapons until we solve the myriad mental health treatment issues.

Violence in the entertainment media is also a problem. The special effects that accompany crime drama in today’s movies are appalling. Many people in New Thought already choose to avoid entertainment violence. I find it’s no big loss. If enough people boycott violent films and video games, it will help.

Then there are the constitutional arguments. Both liberals and conservatives use them to defend their beloved First and Second amendments.

It is ridiculous when liberals rage against the 2nd Amendment “patriots” then turn around and insist that the appalling graphic carnage in movies is protected by the 1st Amendment. Nonsense on both sides.

The First and Second Amendments were written as a reaction to English rule. They are not written in stone. They can be interpreted differently and they can be changed. Fundamentalism, whether from the right or left is nuts.

Yes – I want to support stronger controls of violence in movies, TV and games. And…  I do not want to let that slow down the control of assault weapons and tighter regulations on guns.

When the NRA and others try to cloud the issue by pointing out that the issue of violence is complicated and there are other problems, it amounts to static on the airwaves. We know there is truth in what they say and we know they say it to distract us from taking action today.

They say what they say because there is big money in guns. We know that reducing the availability of guns will help reduce violence. We also know you don’t need assault weapons to shoot birds or deer.

You do make a difference.

I believe we can reduce the violence in the United States by getting assault weapons off the street and tightening up all gun laws. I salute and support the leaders who are in front of this movement and I will sign the petitions, write the letters and pray for passage of laws and the establishment of peaceful life in this land.  How about you?

I write this today because I would like to see every one who believes in the power of peaceful change to speak up in the next few days. Write letters to your representatives. Sign petitions to ban assault weapons. Send money to the organizations that support the cause.  Send this blog to your friends. Spend some of your prayer and visioning time on this issue.

Ask Yourself

What do I think about gun laws?

Will I pray about it?

Will I write a comment on this blog about it?

Will I take political action about it?

I Choose Love

Whenever something horrible, such as the shootings at Sandy Hook School in Newton, CT, happen, we look for meaning. We may want to blame, or call out for new laws or beg God for an explanation. In the end, none of these attempts to deal with pain wipe away the suffering.

This was a tragedy that touched all of us at some level. We are all mourning.
All parents know that losing a child must surely be the worst thing that can happen to any of us. In the normal course of things, we expect to outlive our children and so there is shock mixed with grief.

Abrupt death is always shocking. Random, blameless, abrupt death of a child is a tragedy. The death of twenty children and six teachers is a national nightmare.

I’m certain that every schoolteacher in this nation felt something like terror as he or she suited up for duty today. Not only does the possibility of violence seem more real, but also the task of talking with the children about why things like this happen must seem overwhelming.

There were several things about this shooting that made it stand out in our national consciousness. For one, the neighborhood was an affluent community with no particular problems and plenty to commend it.

We know that there are school children dying violently in this country all the time but not in such a large group and on the “other side of town.” There is nothing like trouble in our own backyard to make it real.

That’s the truth whether we like it or not. Single deaths are shocking to those who are directly involved but we are accustomed to the fact that so many of our young people lose their lives to gunfire in cities. We should believe, like the poet John Donne wrote, that we are connected but we are cynical about our affluent islands.

Another reason this event was shocking is that there was no one thing and not just one apparent blame. The shooter must have been insane. Connecticut has some of the strictest gun laws and it looks as if the guns involved were legal.
We may want to blame the ease obtaining guns, the media, video games, violent movies, TV and our national culture and there is truth in each part but it is not the whole story.

Don’t mistake me. I think we can do something about most of the things that abet our national predilection to violence. I would also include better identification and help for the mentally ill as something we could do more about.

I am all for social action steps. Even so, this shooting makes it clear that bad things happen to good people and we don’t always know why. So what are we to do in the face of uncertainty, vulnerability and sorrow?

First of all, we should not rush to blame anyone who was directly involved. The school officials, first responders, local and state officials behaved in an exemplary manner. The President’s two speeches were responsible, sane and inspirational.

We should follow the lead of the various religious leaders who spoke at the memorial service on Sunday evening. They exemplified diversity, cooperation and love that are found in the core of all great religions. I was sorry there were no New Thought people involved but there were several women, a young Muslim teenager and a leader of the Bahia’ teaching.

All great religions have taught us that we should love each other. We should hold each other dear, be together and comfort each other. We should take what action seems sensible but remember that the most important things we can do is be that candle in the darkness.

I was very moved by the service and also by the great love I felt expressed in our Center for Spiritual Living in Carlsbad on Sunday morning. I know that same love was expressed all over the nation, in and outside of church.
Here is my very incomplete shorthand explanation of what I think Religious Science teaches about the nature of good and evil…

There is First Cause, (that we call God) which creates everything out of itself. It is not a person, place nor thing but the Creative Energy of the Universe. It is the consciousness behind everything and it is Love.
This Love creates us, and works in our lives through spiritual law. We are spiritual beings having a human experience and that means we have free will. Our spiritual nature is always perfect, whole and complete and when we return to God, it returns as spiritually whole, perfect and complete.

No experience that we have on the human plane of existence ever damages us although, as humans, we face choices about how much of our God-nature we reveal and live by. As we live, we can reveal more and more of our perfection through choosing Love.

Since we were created by Love, we must have Love as our central nature, whether we always know it or not. We contact Creative Spirit or God through our beliefs, thoughts, and emotions. At the level of Spirit, we are all good and all equal. At a human level, we can gain in understanding and that consciousness can grow as we choose to love. Consciousness continues.
We are in God and God is in us but we are not all of God and we do not understand all that God understands.

Perhaps at some time it will all be revealed but now we do look though a glass darkly. The more Love we have, the more we understand. The more we understand, the more love we have. We can always choose to express more love. That is why three is opportunity in any challenge. Love may be deepened by any tragedy because we always have choice about how to respond.

For a more complete and clearer explanation, I suggest you take classes, read books and attend a Center For Spiritual Living close to you. If there are none nearby, check out the CSL websites and you will find online talks, written prayers and articles.

The main thing I you to take away from this posting today is that you do not have to have all the answers before you know what to do. Just follow your instincts and express more love. Make it a point to reach out and love others today. Send out your Christmas cards or letters and call up people you want to cheer up. It will make others feel better and it will also make you feel better. Love really is the answer.

Every one of us faces a choice today. We can choose to reach out and offer love to others. Or not. If we offer love, we are expressing the highest and best meaning that we can know about life.

That is what I understand on this day. Think about what you understand. Ask yourself if you can think of some way to express a little more love today than you did yesterday. Then make the move in the direction of the light.

Ask Yourself

How do I feel?

Who do I love?

Who can I reach out to?