It is sometimes from a place of fear that we have a strong longing for peace.
by Kathy Magnuson and Norma Smith Olson
Fear is powerful. It can be all-consuming. Fear can drive us to say and do extreme things. It can cause us to take strong action just when it is needed-and can cause us to overreact. Fear can elicit anger and lashing out, as well as bonding with those around us.
To write about fear in this peace-themed March magazine may seem out of place. Yet, it is sometimes from a place of fear that we have a strong longing for peace.
Fear is prevalent in our nation's conversations about guns these days. Some parents are afraid of the potential for accidents if teachers were to be armed with guns. Others are afraid of too few guns in schools and not enough protection. Children are afraid of being shot in their schools. Hunters are afraid of the government controlling their recreation. Battered women's advocates are afraid of the consequences of more guns in homes. Those suspicious of foreign invasion are afraid we would be helpless. Gun shop owners are afraid of losing business, while, in fact, gun sales are booming since the shooting at the Newtown, Conn., elementary school.
What is it we are afraid of? What does it say when we live in a culture of so much fear and suspicion?
Consider the following:
In 2010 alone, 353 Minnesotans died from gunshot wounds, compared with 131 dying in alcohol-related car crashes, as reported by Protect Minnesota.
For every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides and 11 attempted or completed suicides, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.
In 2010, at least 849 women in the U.S. were shot to death by a husband, ex-husband or boyfriend, according to the Violence Policy Center. That's more than two women killed with a gun every day.
In light of the evidence, how do we come together in Minnesota, in our communities and in our homes to find a place of peace, free from fear? How do we best become instruments of peace?
It is difficult to say that one thing can help build a more peaceful society. However, stricter gun laws can only help in bringing more peace into the world.
We need to act now.
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