2/07/2013

Pithy Sayings Don't Match Reality: Guns, Religion, and Schools

Far too often memes go across my facebook feed. The site someecards is a favorite for placing throw-away one liners on with an appropriate accompanying drawing, and then these ecards go far and wide on facebook.

There is no topic off-limits, either. From sex to guns to male and female stereotypes to bible-thumping and bacon, people express themselves in witty little sayings and pass them on, virtually high-fiving each other.

I much prefer the Dr. Who cartoons and memes along with animal pictures. Those are fun and who can resist them? Plus, really who can be pissed off with those?

I have atheist friends and holy-roller friends. I have agnostics and backsliders for friends. I have devout, kind peaceful believers.

Guess who posts the least offensive and inaccurate memes and pithy one liners? If you guessed agnostics and backsliders as well as the devout, kind peaceful believers (you know the ones who live their faith and let you live yours?), you'd be right.

I watch atheists post harsh, often mean memes that denigrate the intelligence of believers, and I see some believers post the brimstone and fire memes. And I keep scrolling.

I see the "if only Bibles were in schools" memes, and scroll on. But...here's the thing: our society doesn't have the problems it has today because of a lack of religious conviction. Religious teaching doesn't belong in schools. It belongs in the churches and at home.

Values and ethics are not dependent on a religious education or belief system. Morality doesn't derive from the bible. In fact, the old testament is rather violent, and let's be honest, the new testament isn't a lot better.

Kindness, empathy, charity: Jesus taught these things, but those who believe in him far too often fail to act as he did.

Religion is used as a cudgel to berate and belittle those who believe differently. Religion is used to separate out people and rank them and you know who comes out "superior" in that ranking? The people doing the ranking.

When I was a teenager I attended a charismatic Baptist church that, had we not been trying to find community, had my mom not wanted us to have a church home, well...we'd have run the other way as fast as we could have if we'd have been thinking clearly and critically. Any denomination that spends its time focusing on how all the other Christian denominations are wrong and all those people are going to hell--yeah, that's not about following Jesus's teachings, not about loving thy neighbor. That's about ranking.

If it's not religion or atheistic cracks going across my feed, it's guns and politics. I've shot weapons, some of them pretty damn cool. And I've enjoyed that activity. I also believe that gun ownership can be responsibly done. Weapons should be locked up and inaccessible to children. I also believe that if you aren't willing to pull the trigger, you better not pick up a gun in defense--if you can't do that, it's a liability to you. I don't think that law-abiding citizens should be denied the right to own weapons, but reasonable licensing and background checks are important. It's not going to keep a determined person from getting one, though, and bad guys are always going to be there.

Being callous and cold-hearted about the damage guns do, the role that access to a gun plays in suicide attempts, and the accidental deaths due to mishandling of weapons--not cool. And arguing that hammers kill more people than guns is not a convincing argument that the selling of guns shouldn't be regulated.

The answer to school violence isn't putting guns or bibles in the school. That won't change the reality that a determined individual can get around or might not care that someone in the school has a weapon. Suicide by cop is a reality, and these spree killers aren't often looking to outlive the spree killing.

One thing is certain: the memes going around facebook, the pithy one-liners and the arrogance of certainty underlying them WON'T solve our society's problems regarding how we reach out to the disenfranchised, the marginalized, and the mentally ill, who often cannot access good health care and quality psychiatric care.

As long as we turn a blind eye to children experiencing abuse and neglect in their own homes and in foster care, there are going to be adults so damaged by their childhoods that functioning in society is going to be more than they can do. The support services suck for those on the fringes, and as a whole, our society still thinks those down on their luck should be able to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

No, it isn't bibles or guns we need in our schools or in our homes or communities, so much as it is common human decency, a willingness to help those in need without censure, and an infrastructure that doesn't allow anyone to fall through the cracks.

Acceptance of people in their full range of human diversity, from cis- to trans-, from gay to straight, from non-believers to believers, is key to creating a society that is truly different from the one now that creates people who think being as cruel as possible to strangers is a sport, a competition, that constantly needs one-upping.

I'm sorry, but if you simultaneously share these memes about bibles and prayer and schools, but then log onto the internet and spread hatred or make fun of those who are different, you ought to check yourself. If you look at the homeless person on the corner and think you're better than him? Yeah. A change of circumstances could easily have you there.

I've learned not to think, "Well, that could never be me." Yeah, it could, and karma has a way of kicking a person in the ass when the arrogance gets a bit much.

I'll keep liking and sharing cute animal pictures and Dr. Who mash-ups. At least, those are likely to piss no one off, as this post is likely to.

3 comments:

kathleen said...


AMEN!!!!

farmwifetwo said...

I grew up in a United Mennonite church my Opa helped build and went to a camp that he also helped to build every summer.

If there is anything I have ever learned in all those years and now with Dh's crap these last couple of years....

Many of those that attend on Sunday, totally forget those teachings come Monday. Ironically it is the most "religious" on Sunday that are the most forgetful come Monday.

Therefore, although I still enjoy hymns and carols... I'd rather skip Sunday's so I'm not frustrated on Monday. Plus, no where, no how, am I ever going to worship a person.

Hence, since I do believe Hamlet is correct.... I'll just ignore all religions equally and lie on my back and watch the stars instead at night.

As for social teachings... first place to teach those is at home. First place that is forgotten... is at home and it doesn't matter on the income level of the family either. Just ask a teacher, Dr, FSW etc. If you think it couldn't happen to you... I have a 3" scar on my shin (shrapnel hole from a piece of steel picked up by the lawnmower) and a 12 day visit from his MIL, that reminds my Dh daily not to tell his wife how he could do it better.... For 4yrs, he's never taken over anything I've been doing without asking gently instead of being pushy or sarcastic.

Tesseraltyme said...

My slogan is: "Anyone who speaks/writes in slogans isn't saying anything."