In this article on the Unfundamentalist Christians blog, Dan Wilkinson rightly points out that while it is a good thing that Confederate Flags are finally coming down from public buildings in the South, there are still some pretty big fish to fry. I don’t want to underestimate how important it is to fight the symbols of hatred. I’m a writer and occasional cartoonist, and I believe in the power of symbols. Wilkinson goes so far as to say that the flag didn’t kill anyone, but I’m not so sure. The meaning of symbols can be hard to control, but they touch us in a deep place that I’m not sure we fully understand. If I write a good enough sentence on the chin-dripping deliciousness of a juicy apple, I can make you salivate. If I write well enough of windswept frozen peaks in the dead of winter, I can make you shiver. And if you grow up in an environment where a symbol of hate is proudly displayed, you might think it’s okay to hate too. And hate does kill.
But that aside, Wilkinson is absolutely right that it’d be a lot harder to kill if we had reasonable gun laws. Our complacency with gun-violence in this society has gotten completely out of hand. When I was 18 and on a mission trip in Austria, and again a few years later in Trinidad and Tobago, people I’d just met would ask me if I felt safe growing up in America. I thought they had watched too many imported American action movies. But they were talking about Columbine and Virginia Tech and massacre after massacre, and we can now add Aurora, Oak Creek, Newtown, Charleston, and so many others to their list. And it is no longer frustrating or infuriating, it is insulting, it is blasphemous that people who claim to believe in the Prince of Peace continue to support such violence when there are clearly moderate steps that can be taken that would make these crimes much harder to accomplish.