Choose dialogue, not guns
Gore, of Bland County, is a Vietnam era veteran and Second Amendment supporter.
Recently, a friend paid an unexpected visit. We were having our usual round of talks about current events, amid much laughter.
Unexpectedly, he asked if I "thought it wrong for Haitian orphans to be placed in the homes of white Americans at the risk of losing their heritage."
I jokingly replied, "It is better to lose heritage than to starve." My own African ancestors had to realize that. Perhaps his white ancestors did too.
Next he brought forth the topic of health care reform. We discussed the pros and cons.
In the midst of our conversation, he dropped a stone that had a monumental consequence as great as a tidal wave. He began to talk about his membership in a gun club and how every weekend they went to target practice and took survival forays into the mountains.
I asked him why he owned so many guns, further adding that he was free to hunt on my property. He replied that he didn't hunt. His guns were for those "bleeding-heart, liberal Democrats" and their "socialist, illegal, colored leader, Obama."
I was stunned. I asked him, "Do you mean, my friend, that you are gathering guns and reloading ammunition for me?"
He looked at me, surprised, and said, "Oh, no; you are not like that."
I replied, "I am exactly like that, for I am black and a Democrat."
I lost a friend, but came to realize that a country whose citizens resort to policing and threatening others soon falls into a state of chaos, crime and anarchy. It becomes a place where the "patriots" become little more than homegrown terrorists -- those who would kill innocent men, women and children.
A country -- or place within a country -- that forms its own private militia, operating outside the laws of a duly elected government, becomes a place where might makes right.
It becomes a place where those with the most ruthless personalities, the most money and largest weapon caches make the law.
It becomes a place not of freedom for all, but for those with the guns and roaming militias, where we revert to our old Wild West and have to hide whenever the outlaws ride into town.
Do we really want to become a place similar to the domain of Mexican drug cartels or inner-city streets menaced by gangs? Do we think we'll be freed under the rule of multinational companies or corporate strategists inciting hatred and bigotry from the religious right, John Birch Society and other groups?
These kinds of power coalitions don't amount to freedom. We may think that helping them overthrow and destroy our government will relieve us of the law, but we'll find ourselves, instead, under tribal law, not unlike Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and other Middle Eastern countries.
Our Founding Fathers entrusted us with the right to bear arms. But this right was not intended to turn us into a cannibalistic society that eats its own.
The United States was built on the backs and with the blood of Native Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, African Americans and the fair-skinned cultures of Europe. All were guaranteed the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
If you don't like what's happening in our country, have the courage to lay down the gun, pick up the pen, write your elected officials, speak to your neighbors, children and enemies. Study the real story behind the sensationalist rallies and scare tactics. And be glad you have the right to cast a vote.
That's the appropriate way to fight for this nation -- a place of unusual and valuable freedom higher than might makes right.