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Trivializing Peace

November 28, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

We Lose Every War We Fight…

by Robert C. Koehler

What goes around comes around . . . and around, and around.

Last month, the day after I left Santa Rosa, Calif., a 13-year-old boy carrying a toy replica of an AK-47 was shot and killed on the outskirts of that town by a Sonoma County deputy sheriff with a reputation for being trigger-happy. The officer had ordered the boy to drop the “gun,” then in a matter of two or three seconds opened fire, giving him no chance to comply.

This is not an isolated incident, which is why it’s yet one more tragedy I can’t get out of my mind — one more logical consequence of the simplistic militarism and mission creep that’s eating us alive. This is gun culture running unchecked from boyhood to manhood, permeating national policy both geopolitically and domestically. This is the trivialization of peace. It results in the ongoing murder of the innocent, both at home and abroad, at the hands of government as well as criminals and terrorists. (more…)

My Dinner with Bernie

July 29, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Family, Missy Beattie

The More Things Change…

by Missy Beattie

“That sounds like something Bernie would do. This is Bernie,” I’d said to Charles, years ago. He shook his head no.

Before we met, Charles lived in NYC, where he got his PhD. That’s how he knew Bernie, both at NYU in the department of nuclear engineering. My husband collected characters, and Bernie was one. Charles had plenty of Bernie stories but disagreed with my realization, couldn’t fathom that one of his friends could do what struck me as obvious.

A few years after Charles and I married and were living in Kentucky, Bernie visited. He drove a rental car from Manhattan to Lexington, on his way somewhere. He stayed a few hours and had dinner with us. (more…)

Guns and the Ecology of Fear

January 29, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Devon G. Pena, Politics

Challenging the Symbolic Politics of Hate

by Devon G. Peña

The ongoing debate on gun violence is certainly long overdue. As it unfolds within the mainstream media, it also strikes me as a discourse filled with revealing blind spots and shameful silences.

Blind spots and silences in the gun control debate

Let me start with some of the blind spots: Largely absent in this discussion is the fact that the majority of victims of gun violence are poor or persons of color. It is seldom noted that young black men are constantly under assault every time they step out, especially in any state like Florida with a “stand your ground” statute. It is seldom mentioned that young black and Latino males are already targeted by white men who can concoct any unfounded allegation of “feeling threatened” to justify shooting these young men.

It does not help matters that many of these killings are at the hands of the police. Silence surrounds the problem of police violence against people of color yet it has long been endemic. Proposals to put armed guards and police in schools will certainly not make the parents of black or brown students feel any safer since many school authorities have been sued and held in contempt for blatant racial profiling and harassment of students of color. (more…)

The Empowerment Project

January 24, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Robert C. Koehler

Stories of Courage and Nonviolence

by Robert C. Koehler

In the end, perhaps, this is bigger than personal safety. It’s about rescuing our humanity.

Two images compete for my attention as I write this, a month after Newtown, a week after the shooting at a high school in Taft, Calif., with hundreds of murders in between. One image is of Robbie Parker, father of slain 6-year-old Emilie, offering public condolences to the family of the shooter and pleading, through his tears, “Let it” — the murders of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School — “not turn into something that defines us, but something that inspires us to be more compassionate and humble people.”

The other image is of Americans flooding gun stores from coast to coast, buying semiautomatics and other weapons in the wake of feared new gun laws. (more…)

Good Guys Without Guns

January 14, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Erin Niemela, Family, Politics

Letter of Termination to the Second Amendment

by Erin Niemela

Dear Second Amendment,

I write this letter with compassion and empathy, because what I’m about to say may hurt your feelings. We’ve had a good run — I remember shooting beer cans off my neighbor’s porch like it was yesterday. I remember the bad times, too — weapons procured in your name have caused untold tragedies. We’ve had a long, turbulent history, so there’s no reason to delay the inevitable.  Second Amendment, you’re fired. Your services are no longer necessary. You’re just too old to do the job you were originally meant to do. Antique, ancient, out-of-date, passé, out-moded, a relic, old.

Aging isn’t really the issue here. Age normally comes with distinction, wisdom, guidance and worldly understanding, all of which should be eternally appreciated by youth worldwide. The issue is that you and your comrades at the National Rifle Association tried to pass off a “good guy with a gun” speech as the result of such wisdom. With all due respect, the only people gesticulating in fervor to a speech like that are my son and his “Yo Gabba Gabba!”-loving, 5-year-old friends. (more…)

Unarmed Empowerment

January 11, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Robert C. Koehler

Establishing a New Consciousness About Gun Violence

by Robert C. Koehler

“But my instinct was that if someone is shooting at you, it is generally better to shoot back than to cower and pray.”

This is the hidden argument for guns as America’s primary peacekeepers — that the debate comes down to gun ownership vs. helplessness.

Jeffrey Goldberg’s 7,000-word essay, “The Case for More Guns (and More Gun Control),” which ran in the December issue of The Atlantic — just prior to the Newtown killings — came down, for me, to the above sentence.

He made a number of quasi-reasonable points, the main one being that there are 300 million guns in America right now and it’s simply too late for gun control to be effective: “Only the naive think that legislation will prevent more than a modest number of the criminally minded, and the mentally deranged, from acquiring a gun in a country absolutely inundated with weapons.” (more…)

Not Worth the Price

December 27, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Current Events, Michael N. Nagler, Politics

Following Newtown, What We Can Do to Heed the Warnings

by Michael N. Nagler

The wisest man I had the privilege of knowing in my life once said, “There is no nation, no matter how powerful, that cannot be destroyed by hate.”

The latest tragedy — and I sincerely hope it will still be the latest when you read this — has been unparalleled in its violence. Because the true measure of violence is not in the body count but in the violation of the sacred life that we hold most dear, for example in our innocent children.  It has also been unusual in the confusion that still surrounds what exactly happened.  Like most of us, I at first found myself poring over the sketchy reports, trying to understand how it happened, to piece together the story.  But then I stopped. (more…)


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