Saturday, July 05, 2008

Don’t Just Do Something . . . Talk About It

I've been doing quite a bit of thinking of about the recent Supreme Court ruling on the second amendment. For several years, I was very active opposing the NRA and their allies effort to legalize concealed weapons in Missouri. I found an reflection I wrote during that time that I think still has many interesting insights to it.

“We need to act,” is a cry often heard from those pursuing peace and justice. There is no doubt that we need activism on the critical issues facing our state and nation. As I write this reflection, the United States is preparing for, what appears to be, certain war with Iraq. The Missouri budget crisis continues to loom as lawmakers propose gutting programs that serve children, seniors and the uninsured. The gun lobby and their allies have taken the most significant steps toward legalizing concealed weapons in Missouri since 1999, when the voters rejected such a measure.

These are all incredibly important issues, and we need people of faith to act on them. However, just as important is the need to talk about these issues. There is an attitude in our culture that action are talking are opposite. That a person, who wants to discuss an issue, probably isn’t serious about taking real action. However, if we are to be engaged in pursuing peace, as people of faith: both talking and reflection are needed in addition to real action.

It becomes too easy for those of us who have long histories as activists to simply copy our actions (through calling or e-mailing legislators, protesting, etc.). However, the real opportunity for transformation comes when we begin to dialogue and reflect with others. I had the opportunity to talk with a group of denominational leaders about concealed weapons. In the past, the leaders had sent a thoughtful letter to all their congregations opposing concealed weapons. Immediately there were a reaction from many congregation members, who didn’t want to be told what to think.

Out of that experience, it was decided that it might be helpful for the group to consider how could we encourage congregations to take the time and ask questions like: What efforts for peace is God calling us to participate in? How should we be involved with advocacy at the state capitol? How does our faith tradition inform our personal positions on issues like concealed weapons? Clearly, we will answer these questions differently. However, by spending time to have these discussions in educational and small group settings, we will strengthen our churches and synagogue’s ability to respond (through both talking and action) to the critical issues of our day.

--From the Missouri Impact Spring 2003 Newsletter,

No comments: