Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A more deadly virus

Does it strike you as strange that Congress gets hysterical about 5 people dying from faulty air bags but ignores a far more serious public health crisis that can strike so swiftly

Unlike those infected with Ebola or exotic flu strains, this virus rarely exhibits any outward signs of illness such as a fever that could warn us of impending danger. Yet our nation remains at best apathetic to the ghastly spread of this gun virus, and when concerned citizens, health or law enforcement officials appalled by the spread of this deadly virus raise an alarm or suggest measures to curb its spread, they are accused of fear mongering and using tragedy to assault individual freedoms!

Ironically, this bullet borne virus, which carries a far higher death toll than Ebola, air bag or ignition related deaths remains largely ignored. At last count, only a handful have died within the US of Ebola though close to 6,000 Ebola victims have died world wide, each death indeed tragic. But this other virus has infected every part of our nation and continues to kill our citizens engendering, at best, spotty or complacent responses. While state and federal legislative bodies are determined to protect the rights of unborn children, little is done to protect these same children from this terrible violence ridden infection once they are born because in our capitalistic system property and profits are deemed more important than people.

Over and over again concerned citizens who have tried to curb the spread of this deadly virus are attacked as unpatriotic, their efforts an attack against the American constitution! Even when more that 32,351 deaths were reported in 2013 alone according to the Centers of Disease Control. 32,351 in just one year! Tragically, these statistics are incomplete because the gun lobby has succeed in getting laws passed that make it illegal for researchers to gain the information needed to do accurate studies on gun related deaths!

Isn't it ironic that we get so panicky about Ebola or ignition switches or air bags or ecoli or lead paint but the NRA is free to promote the spread of unregistered, uninsured, unidentified guns? Why do we forbid smoking in public places and curb tobacco sales because those are “a public health hazard” but as soon as common sense measures connected to guns are suggested legislators rush to pass laws that go to the opposite extreme. Something is wrong when elected officials are more concerned about getting re-elected and catering to the gun lobby than protecting the welfare of their constituents! Help me understand how measures designed by municipalities and law enforcement to enact realistic measures designed to register lost or stolen guns go against the 2nd amendment? And why is it all right for us to register and insure our cars but not guns? No one took our cars away after we required drivers licenses, insurance, and car inspections.

How many more must perish from this deadly gun virus before we as a people say, “enough is enough!”

Joyce M Shutt is pastor emeritus of the Fairfield Mennonite Church. 

What If?

What if?

There are many ways to view our world. Two are scarcity and abundance. The scarcity model is about acquiring and keeping as much for oneself as one can. The abundance model focuses on improving distribution and building cooperative relationships.

Currently our economics and social structures are based on the scarcity model. Winning or losing. Who's right. Who's wrong. Our religions teach that God has only a limited supply of love so we'd better make sure we're the ones getting chosen. Most of us believe there simply is not enough love, food, money, stuff, power to go around. So, rather than focusing on the many ideas/ways/things we have in common we focus on building fences to keep others out. How tragic. In a universe of vast abundance, a universe created to keep evolving, reproducing, and recycling its rich resources, we, in our greed and selfishness, artificially limit supplies, hoard our wealth, even destroy valuable resources so others cannot flourish!

What if we intentionally chose the abundance model since we really do have a choice? What if we actually took Jesus, and the essential teachings of all major religions seriously? What if we actually chose to live as they taught? Loving our enemies. Feeding the hungry. Blessing those who curse us, Clothing the naked. Healing the sick. Forgiving those who persecute us. Visiting the imprisoned. What if?

When one gets right down to it, a truly sustaining faith is not about participating in a specific religion and blindly adopting the rules and doctrines taught to preserve the fences, but choosing to trust. Trust in a world of abundance. Trust that what we do truly matters. Trust that there is enough to go around. Trust that God is love.

I believe that it matters if we trust in an inherently good world and a good God. It matters if we trust in the basic worth of everyone. It matters if we trust that the Golden Rules is not pie in the sky by and by but a basic truth reflecting the very foundation of abundant living. That treating others with the same respect and dignity we want for ourselves brings abundance back to us.

Success in the abundance model is not about how much money, stuff, or power we have, but the many large and small ways we help others improve their lives.. It's about the relationships we build. In a world of abundance there is no failure, only lessons that enable us to become more attentive, more aware, more sensitive, more open, more willing – to do, see, and listen in new ways. When we operate from the abundance paradigm, faith, hope and trust are what's celebrated, not wealth or power. In the abundance paradigm the focus is on new ways of sharing information, technology, expertise, income, skills, abilities, insights, love, resources, friendship, compassion.

In the end, education is not about memorizing information or getting high test scores, but freeing everyone to ask the questions enabling them and us to move into God's open future. Study after study document that money, power and stuff doesn't bring happiness by themselves. Caring and sharing it does. When we focus on abundance we all flourish.

Joyce Shutt is pastor emeritus of the Fairfield Mennonite Church.