In the wake of last week’s tragic mass murder of 20 innocent children and 6 of their teachers in Newtown, Connecticut, I’ve been following the conversation in the United States revolving around gun control and care for the mentally ill.
As a Canadian, a Christian, and an all-around peaceful person, I must admit that I’ve never held a gun. I’ve never had the desire to hold a gun and don’t expect I ever will. So, I really don’t understand why many of my American neighbours feel that it is necessary, or even desirable, to ‘bear arms’.
This morning, the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) held a press conference, during which they suggested that the solution to preventing further massacres like the one in Newtown was to put armed guards in every school; “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” their spokesman said. In my view that’s ludicrous. That kind of approach ignores the real problems and applies a band-aid to a severed artery.
The whole situation reminds me of a poem called “The ambulance down in the valley”. It’s about the value of prevention.
The Ambulance Down in the Valley – Author: unknown
T’was a dangerous cliff as they freely confessed
though to walk near its edge was so pleasant.
But over its edge had slipped a Duke,
and it fooled many a peasant.
The people said something would have to be done
but their projects did not at all tally.
Some said, “put a fence around the edge of the cliff,”
others, “an ambulance down in the valley.”
The lament of the crowd was profound and loud
as their hearts overflowed with pity.
But the ambulance carried the cry of the day
as it spread to the neighboring cities.
So a collection was made to accumulate aid
and dwellers in highway and alley,
gave dollars and cents not to furnish a fence,
but an ambulance down in the valley.
For the cliff is alright if you’re careful they said,
and if folks ever slip and are falling;
it’s not the slipping and falling that hurts them
so much as the shock down below when they’re stopping.
And so for years as these mishaps occurred
quick forth would the rescuers sally,
to pick up the victims who fell from the cliff
with the ambulance down in the valley.
Said one in his plea, it’s a marvel to me
that you’d give so much greater attention
to repairing results than to curing the cause, why
you’d much better aim at prevention.
For the mischief of course should be stopped at its source;
come friends and neighbors let us rally.
It makes far better sense to rely on a fence
than an ambulance down in the valley.
He’s wrong in his head the majority said.
He would end all our earnest endeavors.
He’s the kind of a man that would shrink his responsible work,
but we will support it forever.
Aren’t we picking up all just as fast as they fall,
and giving them care liberally.
Why a superfluous fence is of no consequence,
if the ambulance works in the valley.
Now this story seems queer as I’ve given it here,
but things oft occur which are stranger.
More humane we assert to repair the hurt,
than the plan of removing the danger.
The best possible course would be to safeguard the source,
and to attend to things rationally.
Yes, build up the fence and let us dispense
with this ambulance down in the valley.
In my mind, America is at a crossroads. Will they build a fence or get another ambulance? My hope is that they’ll care for their mentally ill citizens, ban all assault weapons like the ones used in Newtown, and return to being a society that values peace over violence. Maybe then they will be able to prevent more Newtown-like tragedies from occurring.