Values

The following statement was shared with the First Parish in Cambridge community in response to the latest gun related violence:

We are living in a nightmare.  It is not the more than 1M deaths from Covid; it is not the catastrophic implosion of the environment that supports human life; it is not whiteness as an excuse for violence; it is not brutal gender hierarchies.  It is a nightmare brought on by the absence of values.

The fact that we repeatedly wake up to or go to sleep with the news of innocent life being wantonly extinguished by the overwhelming presence of guns in our country, speaks to a society that is completely unmoored.  Yet, easy access to guns is the symptom; it is not the sickness.  The sickness is an unbridled devotion to individual rights and the “I’ve got mine” mentality on which modern greed and selfishness thrive.

Guns must be gotten rid of. Period. And guns will not be gotten rid of until they are no longer seen as extensions of an individual’s supposedly “God given” right to self-defense.  Therein lies the problem: obsessing over defense, rather than defending the right for all to thrive.  Scarcity, fear of the other and competition (foundational hallmarks of the colonial project that founded the United States) do not add up to equity, they create systems of enslavement, genocide, sexual objectification, lack of access and senseless violence.

Many of you will be called to action in this moment.  Many of you are called to action on a regular basis.  I would ask that before you answer that call, you return first to your values and ask, how will my actions help all of us thrive? How will my actions cultivate equity in the world? How will my actions serve more than making me feel useful, but instead connect me to my fellow beings?

In this moment, I invite you to recommit to your values; to recommit to our values.  This week in particular, as you gather for meetings about finance, or policy, or education, or organizing…seemingly unrelated to the recent tragedies, I want to encourage you to begin with remembering why you are part of First Parish in Cambridge.  A chalice lighting, a moment of silence, a time of reflection. Hold tightly to these values.  It is values that bind us together not tasks.  The way we are with each other has much more lasting power than any individual actions we might accomplish.

We are not so much being asked to navigate the wake of another horror.  We are waking up to the realization that we are swimming in a whole ocean of horror, teeming with self-interest and one sided arguments.  We must rely on the stable, strong and agile vessel of our values to make it to the other side.

May all those, past, present and future who continue to suffer as the targets of our government sanctioned gun violence, be blessed by community and unwavering faith and may they know the love and constant support of this beloved community.

Amen

Rev. Adam Lawrence Dyer

Please join us on the steps of First Parish in Cambridge tonight, May 25 at 6:30 pm for a Vigil for Values.

We’ll gather on the front steps of First Parish beginning at 6:30 pm.  We will have some electric candles available but please consider bringing your own candle.  We’ll have time for readings, reflection, song and silence.  We’ll also be ringing the First Parish bell.  

Fear

“Guns are not legal in the United States and its territories.”

These are the only words from political leaders that will make a difference for the American addiction to guns.

This country has incredible problems with addiction in general, but the most lethal addiction, which fuels not only our sick gun culture but the opioid crisis, the debt crisis, White nationalism, racism, xenophobia, sexism, sexualism and our entire capitalism based economy is the American addiction to fear.  It began with the European colonial fear of indigenous people and infected every aspect of life here from that point forward.  Fear is the origin of America’s original sins.

The moral correction that must take place must be a total cultural reorientation to fear.  Faith leaders have a role to play here, but too often we are the problem, providing a veil of moral justification to some of the worst fears in our society.  The real leaders are young people, born into a global, multi-cultural tiny/vast world where their most distant neighbor is only a few clicks or swipes of technology away.  And who, because of their proximity and immersion in a diverse world, recognize the sickness of irrational unfounded fear and are demanding change. We must listen.  We don’t speak this language…we need young people as interpreters in order to understand.  We must hand over the reigns, because clearly, we, the establishment, are not doing anything right.

Gun

A gun is not a substitute for impotence
It is not a surrogate for masculinity.
A gun is not a tool to stand your ground
It is not self-defense.
A gun is a gun.

A gun is not a metaphor,
It is not an algorithm
There is nothing conceptual about a gun.
A gun is a gun.

A gun is not a political position
It is not an amendment
Nor is a gun the Constitution.
A gun is not a platform
Nor is it a reason to be in office.
A gun is a gun.

A gun is not a theory
It is not a thought project
There is nothing that thinks in a gun.
A gun is a gun.

A gun is not an identity
It is not a personality
A gun is not capable of love.
A gun has no emotion
A gun carries no guilt.
A gun is a gun.

A gun is made to do one thing
A gun kills.
A gun is death.
A gun is made to kill when connected
To a human mind and a human heart.
A gun has no chance to carry out its mission
Without living human flesh attached.
Ironic…
A gun comes alive in the hands of people
So that it can take life from the very same.

It is in our power to control everything about a gun,
Including the very existence of guns.
We are in charge, not guns.
A gun is a gun.

People make guns,
People sell guns,
People profit from guns,
People use guns.
People don’t make guns lethal,
Guns make people lethal.
People without guns
Can’t use guns to kill
Or profit from death.

Simple.

Why do we give guns a chance?
There is nothing noble or patriotic
Or justifiable or lucky about what a gun does.
A gun kills.
Why does the “American Dream”
Have to include the nightmare capacity to kill?
A gun is a gun.
A gun kills.
A gun can only kill,
As long as we give guns a chance.

A gun is a gun.

ALD