The Dictionary of Sorrow

Here’s a new word I learned today from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrow: kuebiko

n. Kuebiko: a state of exhaustion inspired by acts of senseless violence, which force you to revise your image of what can happen in this world—mending the fences of your expectations, weeding out all unwelcome and invasive truths, cultivating the perennial good that’s buried under the surface, and propping yourself up like an old scarecrow, who’s bursting at the seams but powerless to do anything but stand there and watch.

Kuebiko an obscure word for a nation incapable of finding a sensible resolution to the epidemic of mass shootings that take our loved ones and wound our collective soul.  This morning we awoke to news of yet another mass shooting in Las Vegas. Currently the count is 58 dead and over 500 wounded. To date the largest mass shooting in our nations tragic history.

As with most mass shootings the perpetrator is a ‘lone wolf’ white male who expresses his rage and aggression through an act of mass violence.  Connect this anger to easy access to high-powered weaponry and we have the recipe for mass shootings.

That ours is the only developed country with a litany of mass shootings should shake us to our core.  That it doesn’t is profoundly sad.

We are an idolatrous nation.  We sacrifice our neighbors and our peace of mind, upon the altar of the National Rifle Association (NRA) and on a rigid interpretation of the 2nd amendment.  We refuse to compromise for the common good.

Kuebiko.

When Joy is a Choice

Photo of Joy

This morning I drove by a park. I pulled to the curb to savor the pure joy of several adults celebrating life. They were a mix of disabled and able bodied adults enjoying a day of warm weather and blue skies.  The parachute accentuated their joyful whoops and laughter.

Their witness was in contrast to the news on my car radio that morning (the expanding war on terrorism, the 13th anniversary of 9/11 etc.) along with the worries I carry with me.

Tim Hansel in his book ‘You Gotta Keep Dancing’, speaks of his journey with chronic pain.  He writes that joy is different than happiness.  Happiness is circumstancial.  It is dependent upon ‘good things’ happening to us. If like sucks (such as chronic pain) we are unhappy, if things are good we are happy.

Joy he offers is different, it is a choice.  It is based on the deep seated belief ‘that whatever happens, God is with us.’ ‘Joy is a gift’ says Hansel, that comes as we choose to be hopeful.

As I watched these adults ‘play’ in the park.  I found that my own perspective began to  change.  I began to feel and embrace their joy in that park.  I was reminded that while life can be difficul,t that I too can choose to be joyful. 

As a person of faith, I can choose to believe ‘that whatever happens, God is with me.’Who knows, if I truly believe this… you may find me tossing a colored parachute into the air!

Tipping Point on Gun Control?

This weekend was emotionally draining for our nation as we grieved with the community of Newtown, CT.  We grieved for the mass shooting of 20 children and 7 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School.   For those of us in Oregon our emotions were already raw from a shooting at a crowded mall a few days prior.  Each shooting was eerily similar.  Both murders were conducted by an estranged young man, armed with body armor and military type assault weapons and magazines of bullets. 

On Sunday morning we gathered as did people of faith around the country, to find hope in our faith and comfort in the company of one another.  We prayed for those who had lost loved one’s both in Oregon and Connecticut and for all who live in fear of further violence.  

In reflecting upon all this I wonder if we as a nation have reached a tipping point related to how we seek a balance between the right to bear arms guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment and the right for our people to live in safety.  Up to this point the NRA has driven our debate suggesting that any limitation on weapons is an assault on the 2nd amendment itself.  I believe that this is a false choice. In the aftermath of the mass murders at Sandy Hook this  reasoning has crumbled.  I think reasonable people are looking for a balance between individual rights and the well-being of the wider community. 

Yesterday Senator Manchin of West Virginia, a pro NRA member, called for a “sensible nationwide dialogue on gun control , where everything, should be on the table”.  Said the senator, “I don’t know anybody in the sporting or hunting arena that goes out with an assault rifle.”  

On Sunday night  President Obama, spoke at an interfaith service in Newtown.  He said:  “We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage? That the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?”

We wait to see what specific steps President Obama will introduce.  Senator Diane Feinstein has indicated that she will introduce legislation on a national level to ban assault weapons, similar to the ban that was in effect up till 2004.

Here in Oregon, two bills will be presented to the legislature at their winter session.   One bill will limit the sale of ‘oversized ammunition magazines’ such as used in the Oregon and Newtown shootings.  The other bill will ban the sale of assault weapons in Oregon.   For those who want to learn more go the web site of ‘Ceasefire Oregon’.

Up to this point, the strategy for proponents of unlimited access to firearms is to wait until the emotional upheaval from a mass shooting subsides.  This strategy was successful after Thurston, Columbine, Aurora, Virginia Tech etc.

Will they succeed again? Or, have we as a nation reached a tipping point?  The answer rests with each one of us.  Are we ready to say ‘enough’?