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Reflection: Why is this answer still “Blowin’ in the Wind”?

Reflection: Why is this answer still “Blowin’ in the Wind”?

By the Rev. David Hamilton

I am borrowing from Bob Dylan’s classic folk hymn of 1962, “Blowin in the Wind” in which he posed several questions which today, echo still unanswered,  all these decades later.

You will remember that Dylan concluded each stanza with:

The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

Remember the questions?

Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn’t see?

Yes, how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?

Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?

Yes, how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they’re forever banned?

Now, using Dylan’s format, let us ask a most relevant question that tragically arose again, a month ago today, out of Parkland, Florida.  If you listen carefully, you might hear a chorus of victims and their families and friends asking:

“Yes, how many times must an AR-15 kill
Before they’re forever banned?”

This last question, my friends, begs for an answer!

These are times and issues of cosmic significance. These are not simply political issues or policy questions. These are questions of moral imperative. The prophet Jeremiah, some centuries before the prophet Bob Dylan, had the same problem with the spiritually deaf in Judah, those who would not hear.

As Yahweh looked for one last chance to avoid the destruction of Jerusalem for their unfaithfulness, God tells Jeremiah:

Run to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem,
look around and take note!
Search its squares and see
if you can find one person
who acts justly
and seeks truth
so that I may pardon Jerusalem.

No doubt Jeremiah was frustrated at the lack of responsiveness to God’s message. Jeremiah says,

Hear this, O foolish and senseless people,
who have eyes, but do not see,
who have ears, but do not hear
(Jeremiah 5: 21)

Sound familiar?  Student survivors of Parkland went to Tallahassee and the Florida Legislature refused even to open discussion of the banning of assault rifles.

Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn’t see?

Yes, how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?

Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?

Lest one think that God is uninterested in current day matters of justice and righteousness let us turn again to the Book of Jeremiah and hear God’s words:

“Thus says God: Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might; let not the rich man glory in his riches. But let him that glories, glory in this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am God, Who practices mercy, justice and righteousness on the earth; for in these things I delight, says God.” (Jeremiah 9: 22-23)

We have a crisis of confusion of priorities and values in our nation. There is a religious-like and almost worshipful adoration of guns which, for some, places guns and their use beyond any questioning and limitations while they recite incantations of the Second Amendment. There is a quality of deifying guns that borders on idolatry, blinding and deafening many elected leaders to the higher priorities of the safety and well-being of our citizenry.

Failures of leadership are not new. When Moses went up the mountain to talk with God, Aaron was left in charge. During this time Aaron tried to placate the complaining Israelites by creating an idol, a golden calf. Similarly, I can imagine, if somehow all the assault weapons in our country were magically collected and melted down, that the shape this would take would look a lot like a golden calf. Maybe this is what happens when second-class leaders are in charge. Legislators, Members of Congress, and Senators continually have caved in to the idolatry of the gun lobby.

In contrast, it is encouraging when elected officials, such as our Governor Phil Scott, become able to free themselves to take action to stem the tide of gun violence. That is real and courageous leadership!

Considering that extreme gun advocates often claim a sacred-like sanctity regarding unlimited access to guns, it requires a courageous change of heart not unlike a religious conversion experience to have the moral fiber to stand up against such powerful gun advocates.

It is time for leaders on the local, state and federal levels to step up with moral courage and take action against the senseless availability of assault weapons.

“Yes, how many MORE times must an AR-15 kill
Before they’re forever banned?”

It is time to act, and act decisively! We must not leave steps to end gun violence “blowin in the wind”!

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