The Right To Bear arms vs. The Right To Bear ARMS
A Human Canvas: A Social Worker's Journal
As usual, my articles are for the children, about the children, and of the children. The tone resembling that of the Constitution of the United States, and our inalienable rights. For example, the 2nd Amendment: The Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Since the tragedy in Connecticut when precious lives were taken, and life was changed forever, as I begin, let it be known that I am all for our “Right to Bear Arms”. I’m not referring to guns though, I’m referring to a person’s actual arms. Limbs-the flesh and blood variety. The ones that wrap a child in a warm, loving hug, not in a blanket of cold-blooded gunfire.
Along with my staunch beliefs in protecting our children, and their rights, I also believe in nourishing not only their physical, mental, emotional, and psychological well-being, but their spiritual self, as well.
As we find ourselves in the midst of the holidays, we are reminded of the reason for the season. Or, we should be. I, myself, am not as diligent in practicing my religion, as I should be, according to the practices and beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church, but I have a very strong, personally spiritual relationship with Jesus, and have found Him present in my life, throughout my life. I was raised in a very devout Catholic home, attended Catholic schools (grammar school, high school, 2 colleges) and attended Mass every week, as well as all religious holidays, throughout my childhood and most of my adult life. I also have raised my only child, a daughter, in the Catholic Faith, and made sure that she received the same solid Catholic foundation I had. I believed, that as a parent, I needed to provide her with a strong spiritual foundation, and that she could choose, as she got older, to follow her own beliefs. Throughout her child and teen hoods, she relied on her Christianity and her own personal relationship with Jesus, to get her through her own trials and tribulations. I felt that when I couldn’t be there for her, He could be. I felt I had done the right thing, because I knew that when she was presented with dilemmas and life-changing decisions, she would choose the best way she knew how, and for the right reason with the best possible results, because she wasn’t alone. She had spiritual strength and her own personal Go-To-Savior for guidance in helping her to make the right decisions.
This past Christmas holiday, my daughter attended Mass with me, and I have to say that upon perusing the church congregation, I noticed that something was significantly missing. Something I had never expected, or experienced in the past. As I looked around at the other attendees, in the crowd I saw one infant (a baby girl less than one year of age), and one boy about 10 years old. That was it! No other children were at this mid-morning Christmas Mass. No young families with their young children, viewing the Nativity scene, no children bringing up the gifts to the altar, no children singing Christmas carols…no children! I was shocked. There had always been children. Then it hit me. In the past few years, the young families who had brought their children to the Christmas Mass had dwindled. Had it really gotten to this point though? There wasn’t one single “teen” there either, other than the single, altar server, and even though my community is a rural one, I know that the schools here have many students, and I was wondering where they all were.
Of course, there are other religions, churches, and places of worship, but I know this parish, and there had always been families that belonged. I know because I’ve seen them. Could it be that something else has become more important?
If so, then what? What could be more important for parents to give their children, other than a spiritual life? One that will go well beyond this earthly one, without end?
I think we all have to admit that life has changed drastically over the last decade, actually over the last 2 decades. I’ve seen many changes in family structure and make-up. Most of the change I have witnessed has been in the world of foster care, but that has a direct correlation with the collapse of the once predominant nuclear family. Our economy, of course, has been a direct culprit, and unemployment has taken its bitter toll on the quality of family life, as well. Stress, substance abuse, joblessness, and societal decay have been eating away at our families. What better time to have spiritual identity as a survival tool, than now?
I’ve always been a believer that church and state entities should remain separate for the most part. One to represent our life in this worldly one, and the other to ensure our life in the one that comes after and forever. This belief has guided me in my own life, and that of a parent, as well. Man-made laws and God’s laws. We need both, but one should hold more weight than the other. Can you guess which one? If you know, then hurray! Not so, for the mother I chatted with in the store the other day, though. She was Christmas shopping for the toys on the list that her 5-year-old had composed. Frazzled, she looked at me and said, “I wish my son didn’t believe in Santa anymore because he has this long list of wants and I just don’t have the money this year”. In one sense I felt sorry for her, but in the same token, I wanted to ask her if her child knew about another child, an infant, born in a stable, with very little other than being swaddled, laid in a manger, surrounded by His parents, and the animals that shared His humbling dwelling. What I wanted to say was that it boils down to short term vs. long term survival, not a wish list that if not filled would leave her child in a tear-filled melt-down because he didn’t get what he asked for. But since these days lend themselves to fulfilling immediate gratification, it may be unclear to some which one should be the priority. I also felt sorry for her young son who should be able to believe in something “magical” during his tender years, but with our society of technology supplying the here and now, right here and now, it may be difficult for some to “plan” for their future, since it involves believing in something that is neither visible, nor tangible. Not unlike the days, when Jesus walked this earth, when even His closest followers and disciples, doubted Him, at times.
With all that has been happening around us, both naturally (natural disasters) and man-made (human), it makes sense now, more than ever, for us to believe in something more.
When children are dying at the hand of evil-doers, when children are killing children, when our earth resembles a snow-globe that’s been shaken while the contents are left to fall where they may, then we owe it to our children, families, and ourselves to believe in more than what we can see or touch.
Man-made laws can punish the wrongs that have occurred at the end of a rifle, and assist-organizations, like the Red Cross, FEMA, and others can help repair the damages suffered from natural disasters that surround us, but what or who will be there to ensure everlasting peace, other than a spiritual hierarchy?
It’s never too late to realize that we need to get back to “believing” and practicing that belief. Whatever faith you follow, get back on the path, be it Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, or any other religion that you find as your spiritual strength and belief system. Believe. Teach your children that belief. Help them practice that belief. If you can give your child all the latest techno-gadgets that capitalism offers, and all the latest societal fads that infiltrate social medias and television, then why can’t you give them something of spiritual substance? When they feel alone or lonely, when they feel empty, angry, or confused, give them something to turn to, rather than having them grab a pill vial, the latest numbing concoction, or worse yet, something cold, metal-based, and toting a trigger. Teach them that they are not alone. Teach them how to soul-search for their answers by giving them a belief. Knowing right from wrong, life from death, Heaven from hell, may be their saving glory. In turn, their saving glory may spare the lives of others that otherwise may have been taken down along with your child’s physical and soulful demise, if they ever reach the end of their rope, feel they are alone in the darkness, and choose to do harm rather than good, to ease their pain.
You gave your child physical life, now make good on that commitment, and honor their spiritual one. In God We Should Trust.